Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2452-1949
  • E-ISSN: 2452-2147
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Language attrition arises in sociocultural niches which are less than optimal for the survival of a speech community. Analogously to what happens with species in nature, the risk of extinction and the evolution of their systems are determined by internal and external conditions as well by the extent of their impact over the population. Changes in the vitality and maintenance of the language and transformations of its structural properties are partly a response to broader and more general socio-historical factors. This paper discusses striking differences of the phonological system of contemporary ʔuzãʔ (Otomanguean) with respect to descriptions made at the beginning of the 20th century. A detailed phonetic description of the variation and change of the sound patterns in ʔuzãʔ are explained as a function of a general process of language obsolescence. It is claimed that the same ecological predictors of extinction for natural species account for the decline of the language.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Austin, P. K.
    ed. 2010Lectures in Language Documentation and Description. Language Documentation and Description7. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Austin, P. K. and J. Sallabank
    eds. 2011The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Books Online. 10.1017/CBO9780511975981
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975981 [Google Scholar]
  3. Avelino, H.
    2016 A cross-linguistic study of laryngeal contrast: Phonation and tone. InH. Avelino, M. Coller, and L. Wetzels, eds.Laryngeal Features in Languages of the Americas. Languages of the America. Leiden/ Boston: Brill. 10–50.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Avelino, H., M. Coller, and L. Wetzels
    eds. 2016Laryngeal Features in Languages of the Americas. Languages of the Americas. Leiden/ Boston: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Baayen, R., R. Piepenbrock, and L. Gulikers
    1995CELEX. LDC96L14. Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Blankenship, B.
    2002 The timing of nonmodal phonation in vowels. Journal of Phonetics30: 163–191. 10.1006/jpho.2001.0155
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.2001.0155 [Google Scholar]
  7. Boersma, P. and D. Weenink
    2015Praat: Doing Phonetics by Computer (version 5.1.13).
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cardillo, M., G. M. Mace, J. L. Gittleman, K. E. Jones, J. Bielby, and A. Purvis
    2008 The predictability of extinction: Biological and external correlates of decline in mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society of LondonSeries B: Biological Sciences275(1641): 1441–1448. 10.1098/rspb.2008.0179
    https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2008.0179 [Google Scholar]
  9. Crystal, D.
    2002Language Death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139871549
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139871549 [Google Scholar]
  10. Darwin, C. L.
    1871The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1st ed., Volume1. London: John Murray. darwin-online.org.uk/
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Davies, T. J., S. A. Fritz, R. Grenyer, C. D. Orme, J. Bielby, O. R. Bininda-Emonds, M. Cardillo, K. E. Jones, J. L. Gittleman, G. M. Mace, and A. Purvis
    2008 Phylogenetic trees and the future of mammalian biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences105 Suppl1: 11556–11563. 10.1073/pnas.0801917105
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0801917105 [Google Scholar]
  12. De Angulo, J.
    1933 The Chichimeco language (Central Mexico). International Journal of American Linguistics7(3/4): 152–194. 10.1086/463802
    https://doi.org/10.1086/463802 [Google Scholar]
  13. Diamond, J.
    2005Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Penguin Group.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Dirección General de Educación Indígena
    Dirección General de Educación Indígena 2014Educación básica indígena: gestión con resultados. Technical report. Mexico City.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Esposito, C. M.
    2010 The effects of linguistic experience on the perception of phonation. Journal of Phonetics38(2): 303–316. 10.1016/j.wocn.2010.02.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2010.02.002 [Google Scholar]
  16. Evans, N.
    2009Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444310450
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444310450 [Google Scholar]
  17. Garellek, M.
    2011 The timing and sequencing of coarticulated non-modal phonation in English and White Hmong. Journal of Phonetics40(1): 152–161. 10.1016/j.wocn.2011.10.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2011.10.003 [Google Scholar]
  18. Garellek, M. and P. Keating
    2011 The acoustic consequences of phonation and tone interactions in Jalapa Mazatec. Journal of the International Phonetic Association41: 185–205. 10.1017/S0025100311000193
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100311000193 [Google Scholar]
  19. Gippert, J., N. Himmelmann, and U. Mosel
    eds. 2006Essentials of Language Documentation. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs, Number178. Berlin; Boston: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110197730
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110197730 [Google Scholar]
  20. Gordon, M. K. and P. Ladefoged
    2001 Phonation types: A cross-linguistic overview. Journal of Phonetics29(4): 383–406. 10.1006/jpho.2001.0147
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.2001.0147 [Google Scholar]
  21. Grenoble, L. A. and L. Furbee
    eds. 2010Language Documentation: Practice and Values. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co. 10.1075/z.158
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.158 [Google Scholar]
  22. Grenoble, L. A. and L. J. Whaley
    eds. 1998Endangered Languages: Language Loss and Community Response. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139166959
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166959 [Google Scholar]
  23. Hammarström, H., R. Forkel, M. Haspelmath, and S. Bank
    2015Glottolog (version 2.4). Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. glottolog.org. Accessed2018-06-08.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Heine, B. and M. Brenzinger
    2003UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages. UNESCO.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Herrera Zendejas, E.
    2009Formas sonoras: mapa fónico de las lenguas mexicanas. Mexico City: El Colegio de México.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Himmelmann, N. P.
    2006 Language documentation: What is it and what is it good for?InJ. Gippert, N. P. Himmelmann, and U. Mosel, eds.Essentials of Language Documentation. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs, Number178. Berlin/ New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 1–30.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática
    Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática 2010Censo de población y vivienda 2010.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Keating, P., C. Esposito, M. Garellek, S. ud Dowla Khan, and J. Kuan
    2011 Phonation contrasts across languages. Proceedings of ICPhS 2011, 1046–1049.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Keating, P., J. Kuang, C. Esposito, M. Garellek, and S. ud Dowla Khan
    2012 Phonation in nine languages. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America131(4): 3347–3347. 10.1121/1.4708540
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4708540 [Google Scholar]
  30. Köpke, B.
    2007Language Attrition: Theoretical Perspectives. Studies in Bilingualism. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/sibil.33
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sibil.33 [Google Scholar]
  31. Labov, W.
    2010Principles of Linguistic Change, Vol 2. Social Factors. Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444327496
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444327496 [Google Scholar]
  32. Ladefoged, P.
    1988 Discussion of phonetics: A note on some terms for phonation types. InOsamu Fujimura, ed.Vocal Physiology: Voice Production, Mechanisms and Functions. New York: Raven Press, Ltd.373–375.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Lastra, Y.
    1970 El conejo y el coyote, cuento chichimeco. Tlalocan. Revista de Fuentes para el Conocimiento de las Culturas Indígenas de México (6): 115–118.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. 1971 Dos fiestas chichimecas. Anales de Antropología (8): 203–212.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. 1999 La vitalidad del chichimeco jonaz. InY. Lastra and A. Harzfeld, eds.Las causas sociales de la desaparición y del mantenimiento de las lenguas en las Naciones de América. Hermosillo: Universidad de Sonora. 51–76.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. 2009a Towards a study of language variation and change in Jonaz Chichimec. InJ. N. Stanford and D. R. Preston, eds.Variation in Indigenous Minority Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 153–171. 10.1075/impact.25.08las
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.25.08las [Google Scholar]
  37. 2009bVocabulario piloto chichimeco. Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Mexico City: UNAM.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. 2011 Dos cambios fonológicos en curso en chichimeco. InP. M. Butragueño, ed.Realismo en el análisis de corpus orales: Primer Coloquio de Cambio y Variación Lingüística, Cátedra Jaime Torres Bodet. Estudios de Lingüística. México City: El Colegio de México. 83–92.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. 2012 Recent changes in Chichimec. InO. Hitomi, C. Stroh, and A. Urdze, eds.More Morphologies, Contributions to the Festival of Languages, Volume35of Diversitas Linguarum, 23–35. Bremen: Universittsverlag Brockmeyer.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2014 La morfología verbal del chichimeco según Angulo y la actual. InP. M. Butragueño and L. Orozco, eds.Argumentos cuantitativos y cualitativos en sociolingüística. Segundo Coloquio de Cambio y Variación lingüística. México City: El Colegio de México. 521–536. 10.2307/j.ctv6jmww1.22
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv6jmww1.22 [Google Scholar]
  41. 2015 Los hablantes de chichimeco jonaz a través de la historia. UniverSOS12: 14–91.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Lastra de Suárez, Y.
    1984 Chichimeco jonaz. InN. A. McQuown, ed.Linguistics. Volume 2 of Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Languages. Austin: University of Texas Press. 20–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Levy, E. S.
    2009 On the assimilation-discrimination relationship in American English adults’ French vowel learning. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America126(5): 2670–2682. 10.1121/1.3224715
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3224715 [Google Scholar]
  44. Lindblom, B. and I. Maddieson
    1988 Phonetic universals in consonant systems. InC. Li and L. M. Hyman, eds.Language, Speech and Mind. London: Routledge. 62–78.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Martinet, A.
    1955 Économie des changements phonétiques. Traité de phonologie diachronique, VolumeXofBibliotheca Romanica, Manualia et Commentationes. Berne: A. Fracke.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Mufwene, S. S. and C. B. Vigouroux
    2017 Individuals, populations, and timespace: Perspectives on the ecology of language revisited. Language Ecology1(1): 75–113. 10.1075/le.1.1.05muf
    https://doi.org/10.1075/le.1.1.05muf [Google Scholar]
  47. Nettle, D. and S. Romaine
    2002Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World’s Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Palancar, E. L. and H. Avelino
    2015 Inflectional complexity and verb classes in Chichimec. InE. L. Palancar, M. Baerman, and T. Feist, eds.Inflectional Complexity: New Lights from the Oto-Manguean Languages of Mexico. https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01101343v1. Accessed2017-05-17.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Price, S. A. and J. L. Gittleman
    2007 Hunting to extinction: Biology and regional economy influence extinction risk and the impact of hunting in artiodactyls. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences274(1641): 1845–1851. 10.1098/rspb.2007.0505
    https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2007.0505 [Google Scholar]
  50. Purvis, A.
    2008 Phylogenetic approaches to the study of extinction. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics39: 301–319. 10.1146/annurev‑ecolsys‑063008‑102010
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-063008-102010 [Google Scholar]
  51. Purvis, A., M. Cardillo, R. Grenyer, and B. Collen
    2005 Correlates of extinction risk: Phylogeny, biology, threat and scale. InA. Purvis, J. L. Gittleman, and T. Brooks, eds.Phylogeny and Conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 295–316. 10.1017/CBO9780511614927.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511614927.013 [Google Scholar]
  52. Reynolds, J. D.
    2003 Life histories and extinction risk. InT. M. Blakburn and K. J. Gaston, eds.Macroecology: Concepts and Consequences. The 43rd Annual Symposium of the British Ecological Society, held at the University of Birmingham, 17–19 April 2002. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 195–217.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Reznick, D. N. and R. E. Ricklefs
    2009 Darwin’s bridge between microevolution and macroevolution. Nature457(7231): 837–842. 10.1038/nature07894
    https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07894 [Google Scholar]
  54. Robins, R. H. and E. M. Uhlenbeck
    eds. 1991Endangered Languages. Oxford: Berg.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Romero Castillo, M.
    1958 Los fonemas del chichimeco-jonaz. Análes del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e HistoriaXI: 289–297.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Schmid, M. S.
    2011Language Attrition. Key Topics in Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511852046
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511852046 [Google Scholar]
  57. Scicon R&D Inc.
    Scicon R&D Inc. 2015Pcquirer and x16 series hardware system. www.sciconrd.com/x16.aspx
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Seliger, H. and R. Vago
    1991First Language Attrition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511620720
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620720 [Google Scholar]
  59. Silverman, D., B. Blankenship, P. Kirk, and P. Ladefoged
    1995 Phonetic structures in Jalapa Mazatec. Anthropological Linguistics, 70–88.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Soriano, Fray Guadalupe
    1767Tratado del Arte y unión de los idiomas otomí y pame; vocabularios de los idiomas pame, otomí, mexicano y jonaz. Yolanda Lastra, ed. 2012 Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Soustelle, J.
    1937La famille Otomí-Pame du Mexique Central. Paris: Institute D’Ethnologie.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Sutherland, W. J.
    2003 Parallel extinction risk and global distribution of languages and species. Nature423: 276–279. 10.1038/nature01607
    https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01607 [Google Scholar]
  63. Vitousek, P. M., M.H.A., J. Lubchenco, and J. M. Melillo
    1997 Human domination of earth’s ecosystems. Science277(5325): 494–499. 10.1126/science.277.5325.494
    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.277.5325.494 [Google Scholar]
  64. Woodbury, A. C.
    2011 Language documentation. InP. K. Austin and J. Sallabank, eds.The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 159–186. 10.1017/CBO9780511975981.009
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975981.009 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): evolutionary linguistics; language attrition; language change
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error