Definitions

'zuñian

Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas

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 always neatly correspond to these continent divisions.

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

North America

Gallatin (1836)

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)

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"

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)

Sapir (1929): Encyclopædia Britannica

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 in that appear 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) Tunica-Atakapa
(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

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"

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

Greenberg (1987)

Joseph Greenberg's classification 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 superfamily.

  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
    4. Central American (other groups except Tlapanecan (=Hokan))
  3. Chibchan-Paezan (two major subfamilies).
    1. Timicua
  4. Andean (two major subfamilies).
  5. Equatorial-Tucanoan (two major subfamilies)
  6. Ge-Pano-Carib (or Macro-Ge/Macro-Pano/Macro-Carib) (three major subfamilies)

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

(preliminary)

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 [m^sk^djían]
  15. Palaihnihan (Achumawi-Atsugewi)
  16. Pomoan [pómo, pomóan]
  17. Sahaptian
  18. Salishan [sélish]
  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 [chimáriko]
  7. Chititmacha [shitimashá] (>Tunican?)
  8. Coahuilteco
  9. Cotoname = Carrizo de Camargo
  10. Esselen
  11. Haida
  12. Karankawa
  13. Karuk
  14. Keres
  15. Klamath-Modoc
  16. Kootenai [kúteni]
  17. Molala
  18. Natchez
  19. Salinan
  20. Siuslaw (>Coast Penutian?)
  21. Takelma [takélma]
  22. Timucua
  23. Tonkawa [tónkawa]
  24. Tunica (>Tunican?)
  25. Wappo (>Yuki-Wappo)
  26. Washo
  27. Yana
  28. Yuchi (>Siouan)
  29. Yuki (>Yuki-Wappo)
  30. Zuni

STOCKS

Yuki-Wappo supported by Elmendorf (1981, 1997)

  • Yuki-Wappo

Penutian outside Mexico considered probably by many

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

Siouan-Yuchi "probable"; Macro-Siouan likely

  • Macro-Siouan
  • Iroquoian-Caddoan
    1. Iroquoian
    2. Caddoan
  • Siouan-Yuchi
    1. Siouan-Catawban
    2. Yuchi

Natchez-Muskogean most likely of the Gulf hypothesis

  • Natchez-Muskogean
  • Natchez
  • Muskogean

Hokan: most promising proposals

  • Hokan
  • Karuk
  • Chimariko
  • Shastan
  • Palaihnihan
  • Yana
  • Washo
  • Pomoan
  • Esselen
  • Salinan
  • Yuman-Cochimi
  • Seri

"Unlikely" to be Hokan:

Chumashan
Tonkawa
Karankawa

Subtiaba-Tlappanec is likely part of Otomanguean (Rensch 1977, Oltrogge 1977).

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

Mesoamerica

(Consensus conservative classification)

FAMILIES

  • Uto-Aztecan (Other branches outside Mesoamerica. See North America)

#Corachol (Cora-Huichol)
#Aztecan (Nahua-Pochutec)

  • Totonac-Tepehua
  • Otomanguean

#Otopamean
#Popolocan-Mazatecan
#Subtiaba-Tlapanec
#Amuzgo
#Mixtecan
#Chatino-Zapotec
#Chinantec
#Chiapanec-Mangue (extinct)

  • Tequistlatec-Jicaque
  • Mixe-Zoque
  • Mayan
  • Misumalpan (Outside Mesoamerica proper. See South America)
  • Chibchan (Outside Mesoamerican proper. See South America)

#Paya

ISOLATES

  • Tarascan (= Purepecha)
  • Cuitlatec (extinct)
  • Huave
  • Xinca (extinct?)
  • Lenca (extinct)

PROPOSED STOCKS

  • Hokan (see North America)

#Tequistlatec-Jicaque

  • Macro-Mayan (Penutian affiliation now considered doubtful.)

#Totonac-Tepehua
#Huave
#Mixe-Zoque
#Mayan

  • Macro-Chibchan

#Chibchan
#Misumalpan
#Paya (sometimes placed in Chibchan proper)
#Xinca
#Lenca

South America

Kaufman (1990)

Families & isolates

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 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. A final note is that Kaufman uses his own nomenclature for his genetic units, which is mostly used only by himself (this unfortunately makes comparison with other classifications slightly more complicated). His names have been retained below.

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/Unclassfied:

  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 language
  64. Yurimang

Stocks

In addition to his conversative list, Kaufman list several larger "stocks" which he evaluates. The names of the stocks are often an obvious hyphenation 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:

  • Awaké-Kaliana
  • Chibcha-Misumalpa
  • Ezmeralda-Jaruro
  • Jurí-Tikuna
  • Kechumara (=Kechua + Haki) (good?)
  • Lule-Vilela
  • Mosetén-Chon (good?)
  • Páes-Barbakóa
  • Pano-Takana
  • Sechura-Katakao
  • Wamo-Chapakúra

"Probable" stocks:

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

"Promising" stocks:

  • Kaliánan (=Awaké + Kaliana + Maku)

"Maybe" stocks:

  • Bora-Witoto
  • Hívaro-Kawapana
  • Kunsa-Kapishaná
  • Pukina-Kolyawaya
  • Sáparo-Yawa

Clusters & networks

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.

Bibliography

See: Native_American_languages#Bibliography

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