Open main menu

The Mazahua language is an indigenous language of Mexico, spoken in the country's central states by the ethnic group that is widely known as the Mazahua but calls itself the Hñatho. It is a Mesoamerican language and has many of the traits of the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area. In 2003, along with some 62 other indigenous languages, it was recognised by a statutory law of Mexico (General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples)[3] as an official language in the Federal District and the other administrative divisions in which it is spoken, and on an equal footing with Spanish. The largest concentration of Mazahua is found in the municipality of San Felipe del Progreso, State of México, near Toluca.

RegionMexico: State of Mexico, Toluca
Native speakers
140,000 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Regulated bySecretaría de Educación Pública
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
mmc – Toluca Mazahua
maz – Central Mazahua
Otomanguean Languages.png
The Mazahua language, number 4 (darker blue), northwest.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The closest relatives of the Mazahua language are Otomi, Matlatzinca, and Ocuilteco/Tlahuica languages, which together with Mazahua form the Otomian subgroup of the Oto-Pamean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family.

Mazahua is a tonal language and distinguishes high, low, and falling tones on all syllables except the final syllable of a word whose stress is predictable.

Mazahua's most distinctive feature is its abnormally-large phoneme inventory, around sixty phonemes, or twice the number in English. There are eight vowel phonemes, seven contrastive nasal vowels, and as many as forty-five consonants.

Amongst then are ejectives, implosives and contrastive voiceless sonorants. Along with Sindhi and Tukang Besi, Mazahua is a rare case of a language with true implosives that is far from regions where implosives are commonly encountered. It is also one of the few languages with ejective fricatives.[4]

Mazahua-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XETUMI-AM, broadcasting from Tuxpan, Michoacán.



Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
plain lab.
Nasal glott. ɲ̰
voiceless ɲ̥
plain m n ɲ
Plosive implosive ɓ ɗ
ejective kʼʷ
aspirated kʷʰ
tenuis p t k ʔ
voiced ɡ ɡʷ
Affricate ejective tsʼ tʃʼ
aspirated tsʰ tʃʰ
tenuis ts
Fricative ejective
tenuis s ʃ h
voiced z ʒ
Approximant glott.
plain   l j w
Trill r

Oral vowelsEdit

Front Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Mid ə
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

Nasal vowelsEdit

Front Back
Close ĩ ũ
Close-mid õ
Open-mid ɛ̃ ɔ̃
Open ã


  1. ^ INALI (2012) México: Lenguas indígenas nacionales
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mazahua". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ The Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas Archived 2007-02-08 at the Wayback Machine ("General Law of the Linguistic Rights of Indigenous peoples"), decree published 13 March 2003
  4. ^ Ian Maddieson (with a chapter contributed by Sandra Ferrari Disner); Patterns of sounds; Cambridge University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-521-26536-3


  • Knapp Ring, Michael Herbert, Fonología del mazahua, Tesis de licenciatura, ENAH, México, 1996
  • Michael Knapp, 2002 “Elementos de dialectología Mazahua" In Del Cora Al Maya Yucateco: Estudios Linguisticos Sobre Algunas Lenguas Indigenas Mexicanas Paulette Levy (Ed.), Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico