Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas

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This article is a list of different language classification proposals developed for indigenous languages of the Americas. The article is divided into North, Central, and South America sections; however, the classifications do not neatly correspond to these divisions.

Pre-contact distribution of North American language families north of Mexico
The indigenous languages of Mexico that have more than 100,000 speakers

(See: Indigenous languages of the Americas for the main article about these languages.)

North America[edit]

Gallatin (1836)[edit]

An early attempt at North American language classification was attempted by A. A. Albert Gallatin published in 1826, 1836, and 1848. Gallatin's classifications are missing several languages which are later recorded in the classifications by Daniel G. Brinton and John Wesley Powell. (Gallatin supported the assimilation of indigenous peoples to Euro-American culture.)

(Current terminology is indicated parenthetically in italics.)

Families

  1. Algonkin-Lenape  (=Algonquian)
  2. Athapascas  (=Athabaskan)
  3. Catawban  (=Catawba + Woccons)
  4. Eskimaux  (=Eskimoan)
  5. Iroquois  (=Northern Iroquoian)
  6. Cherokees  (=Southern Iroquoian)
  7. Muskogee  (=Eastern Muskogean)
  8. Chahtas  (=Western Muskogean)
  9. Sioux  (=Siouan)

Languages

  1. Adaize  (=Adai)
  2. Attacapas  (=Atakapa)
  3. Salmon River  (=Bella Coola)
  4. Black Feet  (=Blackfoot)
  5. Pawnees  (=Northern Caddoan)
  6. Caddoes  (=Southern Caddoan)
  7. Chinooks  (=Chinookan)
  8. Chetimachas  (=Chitimacha)
  9. Fall Indians  (=Gros Ventre)
  10. Queen Charlotte's Island  (=Haida)

11. Straits of Fuca  (=Makah)
12. Natches  (=Natchez)
13. Wakash  (=Nootka)
14. Salish  (=Salishan)
15. Shoshonees  (=Shoshone)
16. Atnahs  (=Shuswap)
17. Kinai  (=Tanaina)
18. Koulischen  (=Tlingit)
19. Utchees  (=Yuchi)

Gallatin (1848)[edit]

Families

  1. Algonquian languages
  2. Athabaskan languages
  3. Catawban languages
  4. Eskimoan languages
  5. Iroquoian languages (Northern)
  6. Iroquoian languages (Southern)
  7. Muskogean languages
  8. Siouan languages

Languages

  1. Adai
  2. Alsean
  3. Apache
  4. Arapaho
  5. Atakapa
  6. Caddoan, Northern
  7. Caddoan, Southern
  8. Cayuse-Molala
  9. Chinookan
10. Chitimacha
11. Comanche
12. Haida
13. Kalapuyan
14. Kiowa
15. Klamath
16. Koasati-Alabama
17. Kootenai

18. Kutchin
19. Maricopa (Yuman)
20. Natchez
21. Palaihnihan
22. Plains Apache
23. Sahaptian
24. Salishan
25. Shasta
26. Shoshone
27. Tanaina
28. Tlingit
29. Tsimshian
30. Ute
31. Wakashan, Southern
32. Wichita
33. Yuchi

Powell's (1892) "Fifty-eight"[edit]

John Wesley Powell, an explorer who served as director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, published a classification of 58 "stocks" that is the "cornerstone" of genetic classifications in North America. Powell's classification was influenced by Gallatin to a large extent.

John Wesley Powell was in a race with Daniel G. Brinton to publish the first comprehensive classification of North America languages (although Brinton's classification also covered South and Central America). As a result of this competition, Brinton was not allowed access to the linguistic data collected by Powell's fieldworkers.

(More current names are indicated parenthetically.)

  1. Adaizan
  2. Algonquian
  3. Athapascan
  4. Attacapan  (=Atakapa)
  5. Beothukan  (=Beothuk)
  6. Caddoan
  7. Chimakuan
  8. Chimarikan  (=Chimariko)
  9. Chimmesyan  (=Tsimshian)
10. Chinookan
11. Chitimachan  (=Chitimacha)
12. Chumashan
13. Coahuiltecan
14. Copehan  (=Wintuan)
15. Costanoan
16. Eskimauan  (=Eskimoan)
17. Esselenian  (=Esselen)
18. Iroquoian
19. Kalapooian  (=Kalapuyan)
20. Karankawan  (=Karankawa)

21. Keresan
22. Kiowan  (=Kiowa)
23. Kitunahan  (=Kutenai)
24. Koluschan  (=Tlingit)
25. Kulanapan  (=Pomoan)
26. Kusan  (=Coosan)
27. Lutuamian  (=Klamath-Modoc)
28. Mariposan  (=Yokutsan)
29. Moquelumnan  (=Miwokan)
30. Muskhogean  (=Muskogean)
31. Natchesan  (=Natchez)
32. Palaihnihan
33. Piman  (=Uto-Azetcan)
34. Pujunan  (=Maiduan)
35. Quoratean  (=Karok)
36. Salinan
37. Salishan
38. Sastean  (=Shastan)
39. Shahaptian  (=Sahaptian)

40. Shoshonean  (=Uto-Azetcan)
41. Siouan  (=Siouan–Catawba)
42. Skittagetan  (=Haida)
43. Takilman  (=Takelma)
44. Tañoan  (=Tanoan)
45. Timuquanan  (=Timucua)
46. Tonikan  (=Tunica)
47. Tonkawan  (=Tonkawa)
48. Uchean  (=Yuchi)
49. Waiilatpuan  (=Cayuse & Molala)
50. Wakashan
51. Washoan  (=Washo)
52. Weitspekan  (=Yurok)
53. Wishoskan  (=Wiyot)
54. Yakonan  (=Siuslaw & Alsean)
55. Yanan
56. Yukian
57. Yuman
58. Zuñian  (=Zuni)

Rivet (1924)[edit]

Paul Rivet (1924) lists a total of 46 independent language families in North and Central America. Olive and Janambre are extinct languages of Tamaulipas, Mexico.[1]

Sapir (1929): Encyclopædia Britannica[edit]

Below is Edward Sapir's (1929) famous Encyclopædia Britannica classification. Note that Sapir's classification was controversial at the time and it additionally was an original proposal (unusual for general encyclopedias). Sapir was part of a "lumper" movement in Native American language classification. Sapir himself writes of his classification: "A more far-reaching scheme than Powell's [1891 classification], suggestive but not demonstrable in all its features at the present time" (Sapir 1929: 139). Sapir's classifies all the languages in North America into only 6 families: Eskimo–Aleut, Algonkin–Wakashan, Nadene, Penutian, Hokan–Siouan, and Aztec–Tanoan. Sapir's classification (or something derivative) is still commonly used in general languages-of-the-world type surveys. (Note that the question marks that appear in Sapir's list below are present in the original article.)

"Proposed Classification of American Indian Languages North of Mexico (and Certain Languages of Mexico and Central America)"

I. Eskimo–Aleut

II. Algonkin–Wakashan

1. Algonkin–Ritwan
(1) Algonkin
(2) Beothuk (?)
(3) Ritwan
(a) Wiyot
(b) Yurok
2. Kootenay
3. Mosan (Wakashan–Salish)
(1) Wakashan (Kwakiutl–Nootka)
(2) Chimakuan
(3) Salish

III. Nadene

1. Haida
2. Continental Nadene
(1) Tlingit
(2) Athabaskan

IV. Penutian

1. Californian Penutian
(1) Miwok-Costanoan
(2) Yokuts
(3) Maidu
(4) Wintun
2. Oregon Penutian
(1) Takelma
(2) Coast Oregon Penutian
(a) Coos
(b) Siuslaw
(c) Yakonan
(3) Kalapuya
3. Chinook
4. Tsimshian
5. Plateau Penutian
(1) Sahaptin
(2) Waiilatpuan (Molala–Cayuse)
(3) Lutuami (Klamath-Modoc)
6. Mexican Penutian
(1) Mixe–Zoque
(2) Huave

V. Hokan–Siouan

1. Hokan–Coahuiltecan
A. Hokan
(1) Northern Hokan
(a) Karok, Chimariko, Shasta–Achomawl
(b) Yana
(c) Pomo
(2) Washo
(3) Esselen–Yuman
(a) Esselen
(b) Yuman
(4) Salinan–Seri
(a) Salinan
(b) Chumash
(c) Seri
(5) Tequistlatecan (Chontal)
B. Subtiaba–Tlappanec
C. Coahuiltecan
(1) Tonkawa
(2) Coahuilteco
(a) Coahuilteco proper
(b) Cotoname
(c) Comecrudo
(3) Karankawa
2. Yuki
3. Keres
4. Tunican
(1) TunicaAtakapa
(2) Chitimacha
5. Iroquois
(1) Iroquoian
(2) Caddoan
6. Eastern group
(1) Siouan–Yuchi
(a) Siouan
(b) Yuchi
(2) Natchez–Muskogian
(a) Natchez
(b) Muskogian
(c) Timucua (?)

VI. Aztec–Tanoan

1. Uto-Aztekan
(1) Nahuatl
(2) Piman
(3) Shoshonean
2. Tanoan–Kiowa
(1) Tanoan
(2) Kiowa
3. Zuñi (?)

Voegelin & Voegelin (1965): The "Consensus" of 1964[edit]

Early Localization Native Americans USA.jpg
Early Indian Languages Alaska.jpg

The Voegelin & Voegelin (1965) classification was the result of a conference of Americanist linguists held at Indiana University in 1964. This classification identifies 16 main genetic units.

  1. American Arctic-Paleosiberian phylum
  2. Na-Dene phylum
  3. Macro-Algonquian phylum
  4. Macro-Siouan phylum
  5. Hokan phylum

 6. Penutian phylum

 7. Aztec–Tanoan phylum

 8. Keres
 9. Yuki
10. Beothuk
11. Kutenai
12. Karankawa
13. Chimakuan
14. Salish
15. Wakashan
16. Timucua

Chumashan, Comecrudan, and Coahuiltecan included in Hokan with "reservations". Esselen is included in Hokan with "strong reservations". Tsimshian and Zuni are included in Penutian with reservations.

Campbell & Mithun (1979): The "Black Book"[edit]

Campbell & Mithun's 1979 is a more conservative classification where they insist on more rigorous demonstration of genetic relationship before grouping. Thus, many of the speculative phyla of previous authors are "split".

Goddard (1996), Campbell (1997), Mithun (1999)[edit]

(preliminary)


Classification by Goddard (1996), Campbell (1997), Mithun (1999)

Families

  1. Algic
    1. Algonquian
    2. Wiyot (>Ritwan?)
    3. Yurok (>Ritwan?)
  2. Na-Dene
    1. Eyak-Athabaskan
      1. Eyak
      2. Athabaskan
    2. Tlingit
  3. Caddoan (>Macro-Siouan?)
  4. Chimakuan
  5. Chinookan (> Penutian?)
  6. Chumashan [chúmash]
  7. Comecrudan
  8. Coosan [kus] (> Coast Penutian?)
  9. Eskimo–Aleut
    1. Eskimoan
    2. Aleut = Unangan
  10. Iroquoian
  11. Kalapuyan [kalapúyan]
  12. Kiowa–Tanoan
  13. Maiduan
  14. Muskogean
  15. Palaihnihan (Achumawi–Atsugewi)
  16. Pomoan
  17. Sahaptian
  18. Salishan
  19. Shastan
  20. Siouan–Catawban
    1. Siouan
    2. Catawban
  21. Tsimshianic
  22. Utian
    1. Miwok
    2. Costanoan
  23. Utaztecan
    1. Numic = Plateau
    2. Tübatulabal = Kern
    3. Takic = Southern California
    4. Hopi = Pueblo
    5. Tepiman = Pimic
    6. Taracahitic
    7. Tubar
    8. Corachol
    9. Aztecan
  24. Wakashan
    1. Kwakiutlan
    2. Nootkan
  25. Wintuan (>Coast Penutian?)
  26. Yokutsan
  27. Yuman–Cochimi
    1. Yuman
    2. Cochimi

Isolates

  1. Adai
  2. Alsea [alsi] (> Coast Penutian?)
  3. Atakapa (>Tunican?)
  4. Beothuk (unclassifiable?)
  5. Cayuse
  6. Chimariko
  7. Chititmacha (>Tunican?)
  8. Coahuilteco
  9. Cotoname = Carrizo de Camargo
  10. Esselen
  11. Haida
  12. Karankawa
  13. Karuk
  14. Keres
  15. Klamath-Modoc
  16. Kootenai
  17. Molala
  18. Natchez
  19. Salinan
  20. Siuslaw (>Coast Penutian?)
  21. Takelma
  22. Timucua
  23. Tonkawa
  24. Tunica (>Tunican?)
  25. Wappo (>Yuki–Wappo)
  26. Washo
  27. Yana
  28. Yuchi (>Siouan)
  29. Yuki (>Yuki–Wappo)
  30. Zuni

Stocks

Penutian outside Mexico considered probably by many

  1. Tsimshianic
  2. Chinookan
  3. Takelma
  4. Kalapuya (not close to Takelma: Tarpent & Kendall 1998)
  5. Maidun
  6. Oregon Coast-Wintu (Whistler 1977, Golla 1997)
    1. Alsea
    2. Coosan
    3. Siuslaw
    4. Wintuan
  7. Plateau
    1. Sahaptian
    2. Klamath
    3. Molala
    4. Cayuse ? (poor data)
  8. Yok-Utian ?
    1. Yokuts
    2. Utian

Siouan–Yuchi "probable"; Macro-Siouan likely

  1. Iroquoian–Caddoan
    1. Iroquoian
    2. Caddoan
  2. Siouan–Yuchi
    1. Siouan–Catawban
    2. Yuchi

Natchez–Muskogean most likely of the Gulf hypothesis

  1. Natchez
  2. Muskogean

Hokan: most promising proposals

  1. Karuk
  2. Chimariko
  3. Shastan
  4. Palaihnihan
  5. Yana
  6. Washo
  7. Pomoan
  8. Esselen
  9. Salinan
  10. Yuman–Cochimi
  11. Seri

"Unlikely" to be Hokan:

Chumashan
Tonkawa
Karankawa

Subtiaba–Tlapanec is likely part of Otomanguean (Rensch 1977, Oltrogge 1977).

Aztec–Tanoan is "undemonstrated"; Mosan is a Sprachbund.

Glottolog 4.1 (2019)[edit]

Glottolog 4.1 (2019) recognizes 42 independent families and 31 isolates in North America (73 total).[2] The vast majority are (or were) spoken in the United States, with 26 families and 26 isolates (52 total).

North American languages families proposed in Glottolog 4.1

Mesoamerica[edit]

(Consensus conservative classification)

Families

  • Uto-Aztecan (Other branches outside Mesoamerica. See North America)
  1. Corachol (Cora–Huichol)
  2. Aztecan (Nahua–Pochutec)
  • Totonac–Tepehua
  • Otomanguean
  1. Otopamean
  2. Popolocan–Mazatecan
  3. Subtiaba–Tlapanec
  4. Amuzgo
  5. Mixtecan
  6. Chatino–Zapotec
  7. Chinantec
  8. Chiapanec–Mangue (extinct)
  • Tequistlatec-Jicaque
  • Mixe–Zoque
  • Mayan
  • Misumalpan (Outside Mesoamerica proper. See South America)
  • Chibchan (Outside Mesoamerican proper. See South America)
  1. Paya

Isolates

  • Purépecha
  • Cuitlatec (extinct)
  • Huave
  • Xinca (extinct?)
  • Lenca (extinct)

Proposed stocks

  • Hokan (see North America)
  1. Tequistlatec-Jicaque
  • Macro-Mayan (Penutian affiliation now considered doubtful.)
  1. Totonac–Tepehua
  2. Huave
  3. Mixe–Zoque
  4. Mayan
  • Macro-Chibchan
  1. Chibchan
  2. Misumalpan
  3. Paya (sometimes placed in Chibchan proper)
  4. Xinca
  5. Lenca

South America[edit]

Notable early classifications of classifications of indigenous South American language families include those by Filippo Salvatore Gilii (1780–84),[3] Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro (1784–87),[4][5] Daniel Garrison Brinton (1891),[6] Paul Rivet (1924),[1] John Alden Mason (1950),[7] and Čestmír Loukotka (1968).[8] Other classifications include those of Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño (1940–45),[9] Antonio Tovar (1961; 1984),[10][11] and Jorge A. Suárez (1974).[12][13]

Rivet (1924)[edit]

Paul Rivet (1924) lists 77 independent language families of South America.[1]

Mason (1950)[edit]

Classification of South American languages by J. Alden Mason (1950):[7]

Classification of South American languages by Mason (1950)
Chibchan
  • Western
    • Talamanca
    • Barbacoa
      • Pasto
      • Cayapa-Colorado
    • Guatuso
    • Cuna
  • Pacific
    • Isthmian (Guaymí)
    • Colombian
  • Inter-Andine
    • Páez
    • Coconuco
    • Popayanense
  • Eastern
    • Cundinamarca
    • Arhuaco
    • Central America
    • ? Andakí (Andaquí)
    • ? Betoi group
Languages probably of Chibchan affinities
  • Panzaleo
  • Cara, Caranki
  • Kijo (Quijo)
  • Misumalpan
  • Cofán (Kofane)
Languages of doubtful Chibchan relationships
  • Coche (Mocoa)
  • Esmeralda
  • Tairona, Chimila
  • Yurumanguí
  • Timote
  • Candoshi, Chirino, Murato
  • Cholón
  • Híbito
  • Copallén
  • Aconipa (Akonipa)


Language families of central South America
  • Yunca-Puruhán
    • Yunca
    • Puruhá
    • Cañari (Canyari)
    • Atalán
    • Sec (Sechura, Tallán)
  • Kechumaran
    • Quechua
    • Aymara
  • Chiquitoan
  • Macro-Guaicuruan
    • Mataco-Macá
      • Mataco
      • Macá (Enimagá, Cochaboth)
    • Guaicurú (Waicurú)
  • Lule-Vilelan
    • Tonocoté, Matará, Guacará


Arawakan
  • Chané, Chaná
Languages of probable Arawakan affinities
  • Arauá group
  • Apolista (Lapachu)
  • Amuesha
  • Tucuna (Tikuna)
  • Tarumá
  • Tacana
Languages of possible Arawakan relationships
  • Tuyuneri
  • Jirajara
  • Jívaro
  • Uru-Chipaya-Pukina
    • Ochosuma
    • Chango, Coast Uru


Cariban
Languages of probable Cariban affiliations
  • Chocó, Cariban of Colombia
  • Peba-Yagua
    • Arda
  • Yuma
  • Palmella
  • Yuri (Juri)
  • Pimenteira


Macro-Tupí-Guaranian
  • Tupí-Guaranian
    • Yurimagua (Zurimagua)
  • Arikem
  • Miranyan (Boran)
  • Witotoan
    • Nonuya
    • Muenane
    • Fitita
    • Orejón
    • Coeruna
    • Andoke
    • Resigero
  • Záparoan
    • Omurano (Roamaina?)
    • Sabela
    • Canelo
    • Awishira
Northern tropical lowland independent families
  • Warrauan
  • Auakéan
  • Calianan
  • Macuan
  • Shirianán
  • Sálivan, Macu, Piaróa
  • Pamigua, Tinigua
  • Otomacan, Guamo (Guama), Yaruran
  • Guahiban
  • Puinavean (Macú)
  • Tucanoan (Betoyan)
    • Coto
  • Cahuapanan
    • Muniche
  • Panoan
    • Chama languages
    • Cashibo
    • Mayoruna
    • Itucale, Simacu, Urarina
    • Aguano
    • Chamicuro
Southern tropical lowland independent families
Macro-Ge
  • Ge
  • Caingang
  • Camacán, Mashacalí, Purí (Coroado)
    • Camacán
    • Mashacalí
    • Purí (Coroado)
  • Patashó
  • Malalí
  • Coropó
  • Botocudo
Other language families of eastern Brazil
Southernmost languages
  • Ataguitan
    • Atacama
    • Omawaca (Omahuaca)
    • Diaguita (Calchaquí)
  • Charrua, Kerandí, Chaná, etc.
  • Allentiac (Huarpean)
  • Sanavirón, Comechingónan
    • Sanavirón
    • Comechingón
  • Araucanian
    • Chono
  • Puelchean
    • Het (Chechehet)
  • Chonan (Tewelche, Tehuelche), Ona
  • Yahganan
  • Alacalufan

Loukotka (1968)[edit]

Čestmír Loukotka (1968) proposed a total of 117 indigenous language families (called stocks by Loukotka) and isolates of South America.[8]

Kaufman (1990)[edit]

Families and isolates[edit]

Terrence Kaufman's classification is meant to be a rather conservative genetic grouping of the languages of South America (and a few in Central America). He has 118 genetic units. Kaufman believes for these 118 units "that there is little likelihood that any of the groups recognized here will be broken apart". Kaufman uses more specific terminology than only language family, such as language area, emergent area, and language complex, where he recognizes issues such as partial mutual intelligibility and dialect continuums. The list below collapses these into simply families. Kaufman's list is numbered and grouped by "geolinguistic region". The list below is presented in alphabetic order. Kaufman uses an anglicized orthography for his genetic units, which is mostly used only by himself. His spellings have been retained below.[14]

Families:

  1. Aimoré
  2. Arawán
  3. Barbakóan
  4. Bóran
  5. Boróroan
  6. Chapakúran
  7. Charrúan
  8. Chíbchan
  9. Chimúan
  10. Chipaya
  11. Chokó
  12. Cholónan
  13. Chon
  14. Haki
  15. Harákmbut
  16. Hiraháran
  17. Hívaro
  18. Jabutían
  19. Je
  20. Kamakánan
  21. Karajá
  22. Káriban
  23. Katakáoan
  24. Katukínan
  25. Kawapánan
  26. Kawéskar
  27. Kechua
  28. Maipúrean
  29. Mashakalían
  30. Maskóian
  31. Matákoan
  32. Misumalpa
  33. Mosetén
  34. Múran
  35. Nambikuara
  36. Otomákoan
  37. Páesan
  38. Pánoan
  39. Puinávean
  40. Purían
  41. Sálivan
  42. Samúkoan
  43. Sáparoan
  44. Takánan
  45. Timótean
  46. Tiníwan
  47. Tukánoan
  48. Tupían
  49. Wahívoan
  50. Waikurúan
  51. Warpe
  52. Witótoan
  53. Yanomáman
  54. Yáwan

Isolates or unclassified:

  1. Aikaná
  2. Andoke
  3. Awaké
  4. Baenã
  5. Betoi
  6. Chikitano
  7. Ezmeralda
  8. Fulnió
  9. Gamela
  10. Gorgotoki
  11. Guató
  12. Hotí
  13. Iranshe
  14. Itonama
  15. Jaruro
  16. Jeikó
  17. Jurí
  18. Kaliana
  19. Kamsá
  20. Kanichana
  21. Kapishaná
  22. Karirí
  23. Katembrí
  24. Kayuvava
  25. Koayá
  26. Kofán
  27. Kandoshi
  28. Kolyawaya jargon
  29. Kukurá
  30. Kulyi
  31. Kunsa
  32. Leko
  33. Lule
  34. Maku
  35. Mapudungu
  36. Matanawí
  37. Movima
  38. Munichi
  39. Natú
  40. Ofayé
  41. Omurano
  42. Otí
  43. Pankararú
  44. Puelche
  45. Pukina
  46. Rikbaktsá
  47. Sabela
  48. Sechura
  49. Shokó
  50. Shukurú
  51. Tarairiú
  52. Taruma
  53. Tekiraka
  54. Tikuna
  55. Trumai
  56. Tushá
  57. Urarina
  58. Vilela
  59. Wamo
  60. Wamoé
  61. Warao
  62. Yámana
  63. Yurakare
  64. Yurimangi

Stocks[edit]

In addition to his conservative list, Kaufman list several larger "stocks" which he evaluates. The names of the stocks are often obvious hyphenations of two members; for instance, the Páes-Barbakóa stock consists of the Páesan and Barbakóan families. If the composition is not obvious, it is indicated parenthetically. Kaufman puts question marks by Kechumara and Mosetén-Chon stocks.

"Good" stocks:

"Probable" stocks:

  • Macro-Je (=Chikitano + Boróroan + Aimoré + Rikbaktsá + Je + Jeikó + Kamakánan + Mashakalían + Purían + Fulnío + Karajá + Ofayé + Guató)
  • Mura–Matanawí

"Promising" stocks:

"Maybe" stocks:

Clusters and networks[edit]

Kaufman's largest groupings are what he terms clusters and networks. Clusters are equivalent to macro-families (or phyla or superfamilies). Networks are composed of clusters. Kaufman views all of these larger groupings to be hypothetical and his list is to be used as a means to identify which hypotheses most need testing.

Campbell (2012)[edit]

Lyle Campbell (2012) proposed the following list of 53 uncontroversial indigenous language families and 55 isolates of South America – a total of 108 independent families and isolates.[13] Language families with 9 or more languages are highlighted in bold. The remaining language families all have 6 languages or fewer.

Campbell (2012) leaves out the classifications of these languages as uncertain.

Jolkesky (2016)[edit]

Jolkesky (2016) lists 43 language families and 66 language isolates (and/or unclassified languages) in South America – a total of 109 independent families and isolates.[15]:783–806

  • † = extinct

Glottolog 4.1 (2019)[edit]

Glottolog 4.1 (2019) recognizes 44 independent families and 64 isolates in South America.[2]

South American languages families proposed in Glottolog 4.1

All of the Americas[edit]

Swadesh (1960 or earlier)[edit]

Morris Swadesh further consolidated on Sapir's North American classification and expanded it to group all indigenous languages of the Americas in just 6 families, 5 of which were entirely based in the Americas.[16]

  1. Vasco-Dene languages included the Eskimo–Aleut, Na-Dene, Wakashan and Kutenai families along with most of the languages of Eurasia.
  2. Macro-Hokan roughly comprised a combination of Sapir's Hokan–Siouan and Almosan families and expanded into Central America including the Jicaque language.
  3. Macro-Mayan comprising Mayan along with Sapir's Penutian and Aztec-Tanoan families, the Otomanguean languages and various languages of Central and South America including the Chibchan languages, the Paezan languages and the Tucanoan languages.
  4. Macro-Quechua comprising the Zuni language, the Purépecha language and various languages of South America including Quechua, the Aymara language, the Panoan languages and most of the various other languages of Patagonia and the Andes.
  5. Macro-Carib, an almost entirely South American family including the Carib languages, the Macro-Je languages and the Jirajara languages, albeit including some Caribbean languages.
  6. Macro-Arawak, a family primarily confined to South America and its component families included the Arawakan languages and the Tupian languages. However, it also was proposed to include the Taíno language in the Caribbean and the Timucua language in Florida.

Greenberg (1960, 1987)[edit]

Joseph Greenberg's classification[17] in his 1987 book Language in the Americas is best known for the highly controversial assertion that all North, Central and South American language families other than Eskimo–Aleut and Na-Dene including Haida, are part of an Amerind macrofamily. This assertion of only three major American language macrofamiles is supported by DNA evidence,[18] although the DNA evidence does not provide support for the details of his classification.

Amerind macrofamily proposed by Greenberg
  1. Northern Amerind
    1. Almosan–Keresiouan
      1. Almosan
        1. Algic
        2. Kutenai
        3. Mosan
          1. Wakashan
          2. Salish
          3. Chimakuan
      2. Caddoan
      3. Keres
      4. Siouan
      5. Iroquoian
    2. Penutian
      1. California Penutian
        1. Maidu
        2. Miwok–Costanoan
        3. Wintun
        4. Yokuts
      2. Chinook
      3. Mexican Penutian (=Macro-Mayan)
        1. Huave
        2. Mayan
        3. Mixe–Zoque
        4. Totonac
      4. Oregon Penutian
      5. Plateau Penutian
      6. Tsimshian
      7. Yukian
      8. Gulf
        1. Atakapa
        2. Chitimacha
        3. Muskogean
        4. Natchez
        5. Tunica
      9. Zuni
    3. Hokan
      1. Nuclear Hokan
        1. Northern
          1. Karok–Shasta
          2. Yana
          3. Pomo
        2. Washo
        3. Esselen–Yuman
        4. Salinan–Seri
        5. Waicuri
        6. Maratino
        7. Quinigua
        8. Tequistlatec
      2. Coahuiltecan
        1. Tonkawa
        2. Nuclear Coahuiltecan
        3. Karankawa
      3. Subtiaba
      4. Jicaque
      5. Yurumangui
  2. Central Amerind
    1. Kiowa–Tanoan
    2. Otomanguean
    3. Uto-Aztecan
  3. Chibchan–Paezan
    1. Chibchan
      1. Nuclear Chibchan
        1. Antioquia
        2. Aruak
        3. Chibcha
        4. Cuna
        5. Guaymi
        6. Malibu
        7. Misumalpan
        8. Motilon
        9. Rama
        10. Talamanca
      2. Paya
      3. Purépecha
      4. Xinca
      5. Yanomam
      6. Yunca–Puruhan
    2. Paezan
      1. Allentiac
      2. Atacama
      3. Betoi
      4. Chimu
      5. Itonama
      6. Jirajara
      7. Mura
      8. Nuclear Paezan
        1. Andaqui
        2. Barbacoa
        3. Choco
        4. Paez
      9. Timucua
      10. Warrao
  4. Andean (Greenberg (1960) joined Andean and Equatorial, but Greenberg (1987) did not)
    1. Aymara language
    2. Itucale–Sabela
      1. Itucale
      2. Mayna
      3. Sabela
    3. Cahuapana–Zaparo
      1. Cahuapano
      2. Zaparo
    4. Northern
      1. Catacao
      2. Cholona
      3. Culli
      4. Leco
      5. Sechura
    5. Quechua
    6. Southern
      1. Qawesqar
      2. Mapundungu
      3. Gennaken
      4. Patagon
      5. Yamana
  5. Equatorial–Tucanoan
    1. Equatorial
      1. Macro-Arawakan
        1. Arawakan languages
        2. Guahibo
        3. Katembri
        4. Otomaco
        5. Tinigua
      2. Cayuvava
      3. Coche
      4. Jivaro–Kandoshi
        1. Cofan
        2. Esmeralda
        3. Jivaro
        4. Kandoshi
        5. Yaruro
      5. Kariri–Tupi
        1. Kariri
        2. Tupian languages
      6. Piaroa
      7. Taruma
      8. Timote
      9. Trumai
      10. Tusha
      11. Yuracare
      12. Zamucoan
    2. Tucanoan
      1. Auixiri
      2. Canichana
      3. Capixana
      4. Catuquina
      5. Gamella
      6. Huari
      7. Iranshe
      8. Kaliana–Maku
        1. Auake
        2. Kaliana
        3. Maku
      9. Koaia
      10. Movima
      11. Muniche
      12. Nambikwara
      13. Natu
      14. Pankaruru
      15. Puinave
      16. Shukura
      17. Ticuna–Yuri
        1. Ticuna
        2. Yuri
      18. Tucanoan
      19. Uman
  6. Ge–Pano–Carib
    1. Macro-Ge
      1. Bororo
      2. Botocudo
      3. Caraja
      4. Chiquito
      5. Erikbatsa
      6. Fulnio
      7. Ge–Kaingang
        1. Ge languages
        2. Kaingang
      8. Guato
      9. Kamakan
      10. Mashakali
      11. Opaie
      12. Oti
      13. Puri
      14. Yabuti
    2. Macro-Panoan
      1. Charruan
      2. Lengua
      3. Luke–Vilela
        1. Lule
        2. Vilela
      4. Mataco–Guaicuru
        1. Guaicuru
        2. Mataco
      5. Moseten
      6. Pano–Tacanan languages
        1. Panoan languages
        2. Tacanan languages
    3. Macro-Carib
      1. Andoke
      2. Bora–Uitoto
        1. Boro
        2. Uitoto
        3. Carib
        4. Kukura
        5. Yagua

Mixed languages[edit]

In American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America, Lyle Campbell describes various pidgins and trade languages spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[19] Some of these mixed languages have not been documented and are known only by name.

Lingua francas

Linguistic areas[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rivet, Paul. 1924. Langues Américaines III: Langues de l’Amérique du Sud et des Antilles. In: Antoine Meillet and Marcel Cohen (ed.), Les Langues du Monde, Volume 16, 639–712. Paris: Collection Linguistique.
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2019). "Glottolog". 4.1. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Gilij, Filippo Salvatore. 1965. Ensayo de historia Americana. Spanish translation by Antonio Tovar. (Fuentes para la Historia Colonial de Venezuela, Volumes 71–73.) Caracas: Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia. First published as Saggio di storia americana; o sia, storia naturale, civile e sacra de regni, e delle provincie spagnuole di Terra-Ferma nell’ America Meridionale descritto dall’ abate F. S. Gilij. Rome: Perigio [1780–1784].
  4. ^ Hervás y Panduro, Lorenzo. 1784–87. Idea dell’universo: che contiene la storia della vita dell’uomo, elementi cosmografici, viaggio estatico al mondo planetario, e storia de la terra e delle lingue. Cesena: Biasini.
  5. ^ Hervás y Panduro, Lorenzo. 1800–1805. Catálogo de las lenguas de las naciones conocidas y numeracion, division, y clases de estas segun la diversidad de sus idiomas y dialectos, Volume I (1800): Lenguas y naciones Americanas. Madrid: Administracion del Real Arbitrio de Beneficencia.
  6. ^ Brinton, Daniel G. 1891. The American race. New York: D. C. Hodges.
  7. ^ a b Mason, J. Alden. 1950. The languages of South America. In: Julian Steward (ed.), Handbook of South American Indians, Volume 6, 157–317. (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143.) Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
  8. ^ a b Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.
  9. ^ Jijón y Caamaño, Jacinto. 1998. El Ecuador interandino y occidental antes de la conquista castellana. Quito: Abya-Yala. First published Quito: Editorial Ecuatoriana [1940–1945].
  10. ^ Tovar, Antonio. 1961. Catálogo de las lenguas de América del Sur: enumeración, con indicaciones tipológicas, bibliografía y mapas. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana.
  11. ^ Tovar, Antonio and Consuelo Larrucea de Tovar. 1984. Catálogo de las lenguas de América del Sur. Madrid: Gredos.
  12. ^ Suárez, Jorge. 1974. South American Indian languages. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia 17. 105–112.
  13. ^ a b Campbell, Lyle (2012). "Classification of the indigenous languages of South America". In Grondona, Verónica; Campbell, Lyle (eds.). The Indigenous Languages of South America. The World of Linguistics. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 59–166. ISBN 978-3-11-025513-3.
  14. ^ Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  15. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  16. ^ Mauricio Swadesh (1987). Tras la huella lingüística de la prehistoria. UNAM. p. 114. ISBN 978-968-36-0368-5.
  17. ^ Greenberg, Joseph Harold (1987). Language in the Americas. ISBN 9780804713153.
  18. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/science/earliest-americans-arrived-in-3-waves-not-1-dna-study-finds.html
  19. ^ Lyle Campbell (1997-10-23). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 18–25. ISBN 978-0-19-509427-5.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]