Enxet language

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Southern Lengua
Native toParaguay
RegionPresidente Hayes
Ethnicity5,840 Enxet people (2002 census)[1]
Native speakers
3,800 (2002 census)[1]
  • Enxet
Language codes
ISO 639-3enx

Enxet or Southern Lengua is a language spoken by the southern Enxet people of Presidente Hayes Department, Paraguay. It is one of twenty languages spoken by the wider Gran Chaco Amerindians of South America.[3] Once considered a dialect of the broader Lengua language (or Vowak, Powok), Enxet (Southern Lengua) and Enlhet (Northern Lengua) diverged as extensive differences between the two were realized.[4]


Enxet belongs to the Mascoian language family, spoken primarily by Native Americans in the Paraguayan region of the South American Gran Chaco. The South Amerindians living in this region are referred to as Guaycuru.[4]


Enxet and Enlhet were once considered dialects of a single language known as Lengua. The Enxet language was first documented in the late 19th century by explorers from Spain.[5]

Language contents and structure[edit]

Enxet contains only three phonemic vowel qualities /e,a,o/, each requiring a certain length such to maximize distinction. Bilingual speakers of Spanish and Enxet purportedly utilize shorter spacing between vowels when speaking the latter compared to the former.[6]

Contemporary issues[edit]

The region occupied by the Enxet people is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute with the state of Paraguay.

The Enxet language and people are of interest to Anglican missionaries.

Further reading[edit]

  • Campbell, Lyle (2013). "Language Contact and Linguistic Change in the Chaco". Revista Brasileira de Linguística Antropológica. 5 (2): 259–292. doi:10.26512/rbla.v5i2.16268.
  • Messineo, Cristina; Cúneo, Paola (2011). "Ethnobiological Classification in Two Indigenous Languages of the Gran Chaco Region: Toba (Guaycuruan) and Maká (Mataco-Mataguayan)". Anthropological Linguistics. 53 (2): 132–169. doi:10.1353/anl.2011.0010.
  • Hammarström, H. (2014). Basic vocabulary comparison in South American languages. The Native Languages of South America: Origins, Development, Typology, 56.
  • Kidd, Stephen W. (1995). "Land, Politics and Benevolent Shamanism: The Enxet Indians in a Democratic Paraguay". Journal of Latin American Studies. 27 (1): 43–75. doi:10.1017/S0022216X00010166.
  • Klein, Harriet Manelis; Stark, Louisa R. (1977). "Indian Languages of the Paraguayan Chaco". Anthropological Linguistics. 19 (8): 378–401. JSTOR 30027605.
  • Langer, Erick D. (2001). "Peoples of the Gran Chaco". American Ethnologist. 28 (1): 249–251. doi:10.1525/ae.2001.28.1.249.


  1. ^ a b ISO change request
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Southern Lengua". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Brenzinger, M. (2008). Language Diversity Endangered (1st ed.). Walter De Gruyter..
  4. ^ a b Campbell, Lyle; Grondona, Verónica, eds. (2012). The Indigenous Languages of South America: A Comprehensive Guide. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  5. ^ Quevedo, Samuel A. Lufone (1893). "Languages of the Gran Chaco". Science. 21 (524): 95. JSTOR 1765332.
  6. ^ Elliott, John (2016). "For bilinguals, Enxet vowel spaces smaller than Spanish". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 140 (4): 3107–3107. doi:10.1121/1.4969702.

External Links[edit]