Talk:Indigenous languages of the Americas

Active discussions


Why is there no Lakota, of the Sioux people. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:57, 29 August 2009 (UTC)


The Native American languages are quechua and guarani, too. America is not only the United States of America. The content of this page would been moved to Native American languajes of the United States of America, or similar.

This page isn't limited to US Native American languages - it's got Maya languages listed, for instance. If there are other languages to be added, then by all means, add them. --Camembert


This page is really just another "List of". It should be moved to "List of Native American languages". -- zandperl 13:24, 28 Oct 2003 (UTC)


what, no cherokee?

Yeah I noticed the Cherokee language wasn't listed nor mentioned at all, it is a language known for its syllabary alphabet invited by Sequoyah, a half-Cherokee scholar in the 1820s to develop a 85 syllable letter alphabet to help his tribe to become widely (and successfully) literate. The Cherokee language or "Tsa-la-gee" is related to the Iroquois languages of the Iroquois confederacy or "Haudonesee" in the northeast United States and eastern Canada, mainly on the Great Lakes region. An estimated 200,000 out of 2 million Cherokee in North America are familiar with the Cherokee language, but only 20,000 mainly in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Reservation located in western North Carolina and eastern Oklahoma headquarters of the Cherokee Nation tribe are fluent enough in it to carry a conversation among themselves. + (talk) 03:32, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Algic language in MexicoEdit

Please do not re-organise the continents into something they are not. There are two continents in the Western Hemisphere - North America and South America. North America stretches from Greenland in the north to Panama in the South, and includes the islands of the Caribbean.

South America stretches from Columbia, Venezuela and the Guianas in the north, to Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile) in the south, and islands adjacent thereto.

Hi. There was a change to remove the Algic family from the Central American list.

I have defined North America as Canada & the US with the border between Mexico and the US acting as the dividing line. So, I am considering Mexico to be a part of Central America.

This is somewhat arbitrary, yes. The reason I did this was simply to give more languages to the Central America list & reduce the number in N. Amer. This is different from some language books. Many books dip down into Mexico for some languages but exclude others when listing languages for North America. There is not 100% consistency among all the books I have consulted. I think that different people in linguistics and other fields make the division in slightly different ways.

With the partitions defined as above, the Algic family must be considered to be spoken in North and Central America. There is only one Algic: the Kickapoo dialect (or language) of the Fox-Sauk-Kickapoo language (of Algonquian affinity). Kickapoo is spoken in Coahuila, Mexico as well as in Texas, Oklahoma, & Kansas. There are about 1,500 speakers total.

Do you think that we should redefine the boundaries in a different way?

Thanks. — ishwar (SPEAK) 16:40, 2005 Mar 22 (UTC)

The Kickapoo are not native to Mexico. They were pushed over the border during the Indian removal period. The Kickapoo were originally from much further north - Michigan, I think. I think geographically classing Native American languages primarily on the basis of their pre-colonial distribution is legitimate. Certainly, I see no reason to suggest that Algic languages are spoken in Meso-America for this one exception. Also, Meso-America is often considered a more acceptable alternative to Central America when Mexico is included. Diderot 18:46, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Hmm. I dont know about that. I am just looking at the description of language classifactions in some of the major references. It is a good question to ask what should be the criteria used to group the languages: pre-Euro-contact or post-Euro-contact? I also wonder if the Kickapoo moved at a relatively later date, then how many other languages' historical movements are not detailed in my references. We could also complicate the picture since it commmonly held that the Algic languages moved eastward from a western origin. I am not suggesting we have separate lists of different time periods, really (although that we be nice).
You know about the Algic languages I see, but concerning the others I dont have really in depth knowledge about many of the families. It would be nice if many others could do a little research on a chosen family to determine the details.
At any rate, the division of geographic areas and the terminology used for the areas doesnt really bother me as it is just later arbitrary categorization. Using "meso-" over "central" is perhaps a political thing I dont know anything about. I havent seen any of these terms used consistently in my readings. So, whatever is suitable to others is cool with me.
Thanks. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 21:59, 2005 Mar 22 (UTC)
As I understand it, the difference is this: Central America is the southern part of North America, the states between the modern political boundaries of Mexico and Colombia. Mesoamerica is the pre-Columbian Aztec-Toltec-Mayan cultural sphere. So the northern states of Mexico wouldn't be considered Mesoamerica, nor would Panama. Kickapoo is well outside the area of influence of the Aztec empire, which fell while the Kickpoo were still near the Great Lakes, so it deffinitely isn't Mesoamerican. But I see no problem with going with the modern distribution of languages. And you're right about trying to retrace migrations: should we exclude Na-Dene from Mexico, because the Apachean peoples migrated there only relatively recently? (They're certainly outside Mesoamerica, though, which may give a "cleaner" classification.) But by nobody's definition are the Kickapoo or Apaches in Central America!
I would suggest a name change, because unless you do, you're going to have people like me constantly "correcting" the inclusion of Algic, even if they read your idiosyncratic definition of Central America. Why not just call them Languages of the US and Canada and Languages of Mexico and Central America, or maybe throw the word "modern" or "contemporary" as well? Then there's no confusion and everybody's happy. There's no point to keeping the captions short & simple if it leaves people scratching their heads. --kwami 21:46, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)
P.S. Especially since your "Central America" links to an article that says Central America is part of North America, and specifically excludes all of Mexico west of Chiapas! kwami

Right, so loosely there are

  1. cultural boundaries
  2. Euro-American political boundaries
  3. geographical boundaries.

And there are of course writers who conflate these. What to do? I dont know. Perhaps it would be nice if wikipedia as a whole was consistent in its terminology? So, this would suggest an inclusion of the entire country of Mexico into North America. This is not what language books typically do, which is to follow cultural boundaries more (as far as I can tell). Following the cultural boundaries makes the most sense to me. However, I doubt many casual readers know much about the cultural areas. But maybe language lovers would know... As I said above, it doesnt really bother me which way we go with this. We just should approximately where the languages are. Your suggestion for a descriptive heading is a good idea. Peace. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 23:07, 2005 Mar 24 (UTC)

map of North AmericaEdit

hi. i am working on a color map of north america based on Mithun (1999). i will post a preliminary draft of it soon. comments of course will be welcome, esp. since i barely know how to use gimp. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 10:05, 2005 May 15 (UTC)

opinion about mention of Native langs in Languages in the United StatesEdit

hi, i would be interested to know if anyone has an opinion concerning this: Talk:Languages in the United States#native langs: first or last?. thank you. peace. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 01:06, 2005 Jun 1 (UTC)

A new stub category has been createdEdit

A new stub category has been created specifically for Native American languages: {{na-lang-stub}}. Use {{na-lang-stub}} rather than {{stub}} or {{lang-stub}} to label stubs on Native American languages.

Stub categorizing is a convenient way to keep track of Native American related stubs and additionally helps in keeping the category of language stubs usable. Everyone is invited to check Category:Language stubs to sort out any Native American language stubs... Thanks!

For discussion see: WP:WSS/Stub types#Language and literature and WP:WSS/Criteria#Split of lang-stub. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 00:03, 2005 Jun 8 (UTC)

lumpers vs. splittersEdit

i think there should be some discussion of the "lumpers vs. splitters" debate. typical descriptions of native american languages, as on this page, give the impression that "most linguists" or "most specialists" discount evidence of most or all larger-level groupings. in a strict sense this may be true, but it leaves out a very important aspect, which is that amerind linguistics in particular is completely dominated by "splitters"; hence, similar amounts of evidence that are accepted in favor of [e.g.] the african stocks are not accepted here as a result. thus, a reader comparing the two pages may get the sense that the evidence for larger amerind groups is much weaker than for larger african groupings, which is not obviously the case. both campbell and mithun are adamantly opposed to mass comparison as a legitimate method, and campbell, at least, strongly disagrees with the current consensus w.r.t. african groupings [personal communication -- he feels that at the very least, neither nilo-saharan nor khoi-san have any legitimacy]. in campbell's intro book on historical linguistics, his chapter on distant genetic relationships consists of a systematic attack on all possible means of establishing such relationships, with long sections devoted to various ways to disprove such relationships and where mass comparison is described as "controversial and rejected by most mainstream historical linguists".

Benwing 23:50, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Hi. Sure. Feel free to add to the article as the topic area is rather enormous (after all it covers 2 large continents).
i guess that you could say that the field is dominated by "splitters" if you frame the discussion in this way. But, these splitters would argue that they are just using the same methodology that has been used by linguist-philologists in other well-established families, such as proto-Micronesian or proto-Indo-European. It is the case that most traditional historical linguists reject Greenberg's methods. Campbell does seem to be rather strong in his opposition to Greenberg's proposal (maybe because of the popularity of Greenberg's book in the media & among anthropologists) — others are perhaps less so. But, the mass comparison method is viewed by Campbell and others as one of the first steps in working toward a demonstration of genetic relationships ("hunches").
i dont know if all linguists flat out discount the evidence. I think that they are probably intrigued by many of these "hunches" and note that they need further investigation. But, there simply needs to be more work done (exponentially so in South America which really needs a much stronger base of descriptive work). Many are cautious in their work, which is important given the history of language classification in the Americas (which has often been rather speculative). Although i dont know details about all language families, the Americas is a very diverse area, generally speaking, more so than in Africa (generally, but not necessarily all parts).
Campbell points out that in Africa there was already many established groupings and other work which Greenberg used in his classification. This was not the case in the Americas where there was a dearth of material. Campbell writes at length on this in the Handbook of Historical Linguistics and in American Indian languages (which you probably already know about).
At any rate, I think that we can say that we need more data and more data processing. peace – ishwar  (speak) 00:45, 2005 July 13 (UTC)
At least one of the Americanists you mentioned (Mithun), and many of her colleagues, were quite excited when Greenberg came out with his American classification. They were relieved that someone had finally brought some semblance of sanity to American cladistics — until they looked at the data. Greenberg used outdated sources, even when more recent, more complete, and much more reliable data was available. He didn't bother to ask specialists in the various families to check his data or morphological parsing, even though many of them were (and are) looking for distant relatives to the languages they work on (very important for their reconstructive work, of course), and were sympathetic or even enthusiastic to his goals. As a result, most of his etyma are clearly spurious, and once those are removed from his proposal, there isn't enough data left to say much of anything. This was a big disappointment to other linguists. Many of them at first hoped that he had merely screwed up the family that they worked on, but might have done better with others. However, after conferring with their colleagues, they concluded that probably none of his proposal was worth much. The parts of it that were reliable were simply borrowed from others' work.
Some Greenberg supporters, such as Ruhlen, portray this as some kind of conspiracy, or at best close-minded resistance to innovation, much as G's proposals met with from, say, Bantuists in Africa. However, the Americanist linguists I've spoken to are open to all sorts of distant relationships, and in private will speculate on all sorts of wild possibilities. They clearly see the problems of bilateral comparison, which is what their specialties restrict many of them to. However, even though they clearly enjoy long-distance cladistics, had high hopes for Greenberg, have great respect for him as a typologist, and were reluctant to dismiss him, they feel that his Amerindian classification isn't worth much. It's not really mass comparison that they object to: although not conclusive, that does give us ideas to work on. Rather, it was the extremely poor data and data analysis that he used. As Campbell put it, garbage in, garbage out. (Ruhlen seems to think that enough garbage will produce reliable results.) Several of them think that with good data, and with specialists checking the parsing to ensure that the right morphemes were being compared, Greenberg could have made a valuable contribution to their field. Thus the disappointment.
As for Africa, G did make some valuable contributions. Niger-Congo, clearly. Afrasiatic was already well developed; G merely popularized one of the more reasonable interpretations (thus putting "Hamito-Semitic" to rest). Nilo-Saharan is still open to debate. Many feel it is reasonable, while others feel it is a catch-all of remnant languages, along with some areal features. Most seem to think that G was right, but it will be some time before we can conclude one way or the other. Khoisan, however, is not demonstrated. As it is, there are six families that have not been demonstrated as being related, even by Nilo-Saharan standards. While they may be related, and this might simply reflect the poverty of Khoisan research, "Khoisan" is best used as a catch-all like "Paleosiberian" for the time being.
There are lots of very reasonable but still unproven language families out there, like Tibeto-Burman (I include Chinese in that), that people accept because they understand that it will take a lot of time to work them out to the extent of Indo-European. But I don't know of a single Americanist who believes that Greenberg's work is of this calibre. Americanists are no more "splitters" than anyone else, and if Greenberg had presented the kind of data for Amerind that he had for Nilo-Saharan, we'd have a very different picture of the Americas. There are several "lumpers" at work in South America. But as Ishwar said, the data they have to work with is much more limited, and the number of languages larger, than in the case of Africa. (Okay, about a thousand languages each, but in Africa half of that number is Bantu.)
Dixon has published an interesting idea, that given enough time and contact, all languages will come to resemble their neighbors, so that their provenance is obscured. The reason, in his view, for the diversity of the Americas is that it hasn't been settled long enough for this to occur. There's been enough time for the families to diverge to the extent that it's difficult (perhaps impossible) to see their relations, but not enough for them to blur into a single language area, like Australia. That's at least a possibility for why American cladistics is so "split" up. Another, of course, is the poverty of data: given the same methods and expectations for a demonstrable relationship, you'll get fewer results for American, Australian, and Papuan languages than for Afropean/Eurasian languages. kwami 02:15, 2005 July 13 (UTC)
I guess my answer is this: No, I don't think the Americas are particularly "splittist". There's been one well-respected linguist that has lumped most of the Americas together, but it seems that it is only hi student Ruhlen that follow him, and he's known primarily for defending Greenberg, not for any research of his own. Among Americanists, there has been a swing back and forth: lump (Kroeber and Sapir), split (the 1950s), now lump again - but more cautiously. This is certainly worth discussing. However, given that even lumpers among Amerindian specialists don't accept Greenberg, I don't think his ideas should be given much space, except to note that he has high name recognition for his other (valuable) work, and that people who know nothing of American languages use him as a convenient starting point. kwami

OK. I would suggest at least that the section on more distant proposals be revised to [a] list the proposals according to who made them, and hierarchically when they have been made that way (e.g. by Greenberg); [b] indicate the approximate level of skepticism/acceptance of them. Simply listing them all in a bunch, where well-accepted groupings and mixed with highly questionable ones, seems a sure-fire way of dismissing the entire notion of larger groupings. Campbell does that, for example, in the back of his intro historical linguistics book. I suspect that he purposely listed Dravidian-Uralic, Dravidian-Japanese, Elamite-Dravidian, Japanese-Austronesian, Japanese-Altaic, Ural-Altaic, Eskimo-Uralic, Indo-European-Uralic, Indo-European-Eskimo, Indo-European-Semitic, Indo-European-Afroasiatic, etc. together, and in the same group of "unconfirmed proposals" as the well-accepted Afroasiatic, Altaic, Niger-Kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan and the highly-cracked Basque-Sino-Tibetan-Na-Dene, Proto-World, etc. in order to discredit the entire notion of historical groupings by making it appear that there have essentially just been random attempts to group every family with every other. I consider it irresponsible scholarship that he makes no attempt to separate commonly accepted groupings such as Afroasiatic and the "so-called Altaic" (his words! yes, i'm aware that there is some dispute over Altaic) from discredited groupings such as Ural-Altaic or simply bizarre groupings such as "Athabaskan (or Na-Dene) plus Sino-Tibetan" (???).

However, I can see that both of you know more about this field than I do so it might make more sense for you to add this info. Benwing 21:34, 2 August 2005 (UTC)

hi. your suggestions are good. they may not all fit in one article though. i think that it is important to see the historical classifications as well. i was trying to do something like this here: Classification schemes for Native American languages.
indicating the approximate level of skepticism/acceptance will be hard as i know so little about South America. many will have different opinions about these things. so, again it will be difficult to include all of this information in one article. perhaps some of this is best covered in the individual articles on families. the current list is conservative. i know North America can be lumped a bit with regards to Penutian. i was simply starting out with the 3 most recent large-scale works (Goddard, Campbell, & Mithun). i think that it is better to follow these than Sapir or Greenberg. South America, i wouldnt know what to do with.
outside of this textbook, Campbell states a bit more accurately that establishment of genetic relations is on a continuum from solid to likely to plausible to unlikely to ridiculous. again, it think that he is reacting against the popular media's fascination with these far-out proposals that give good ratings.
ishwar  (speak) 01:21, 2005 August 3 (UTC)
i think that erring on the conservative side in this article is fine, but you should list the major large-group proposals made. it looks to me like some of these are summarized in Ruhlen "A Guide to the World's Languages". (obviously ruhlen is far to one side in this debate, but i presume that at least his listings of the proposals made by others are accurate.) Benwing 05:13, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

The other area where there are marked differences between lumpers and splitters is with languages and dialects, rather than language families. What is a language, and what is a dialect? are there one, or two, or five, or nine Keres languages? Tom Radulovich 05:54, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

where's Jê / Gê ?Edit

Should also link to Je-Tupi-Carib. kwami 10:10, 2005 August 7 (UTC)

Jê is under the proposals section. I split it up following Kaufman & Campbell. added Je-Tupi-Carbi to proposals section. peace – ishwar  (speak) 18:03, 2005 August 9 (UTC)
Macro-Jê, yes. But surely Jê itself is uncontroversial? kwami 19:16, 2005 August 9 (UTC)
Oh, right. I didnt mention that the list is still unfinished. Je and several families are still absent from the list. I havent finished looking at everything. but, if you want to add some names, I do have some fragmentary notes here: User:Ish_ishwar/draft#SA (although they may not make much sense). – ishwar  (speak) 22:01, 2005 August 9 (UTC)
ok, I have Kaufman's conservative list & his stocks finished at: Classification schemes for Native American languages#Kaufman (1990). of course, he unfortunately uses his strange spelling system. – ishwar  (speak) 23:08, 2005 August 9 (UTC)
hi. South Amer. families list is mostly finished now. there are still isolate/unclassified langs to look up. – ishwar  (speak) 18:39, 2005 August 10 (UTC)


some readers find the term Native American confusing, so i suggest moving to Indigenous languages of the Americas. this parallels Indigenous peoples of the Americas. peace – ishwar  (speak) 18:39, 2005 August 10 (UTC)

I support this move. It would also parallel Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Kurieeto 18:30, August 12, 2005 (UTC)
Seeing no opposition to this proposal, I will move the article as suggested. Kurieeto 16:22, August 15, 2005 (UTC)

Plains Indian Sign LanguageEdit

So, I'm just dumb as a stick when it comes to languages, but is there a reason that Plains Indian Sign Language doesn't show up here? It's a staple of American culture's conception of Plains Indians, but I'm not sure of its historical veracity. Did it exist? Was it used? If not, where did the idea develop from? Is it not an indigenous language, but developed as a pidgin after European contact? If it did exist and was attested, is there a good reason it shouldn't be listed on this page? --ESP 05:40, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

OK, so, I've got an ethnologue listing for PSD, so I'm just going to guess that this language actually exists/existed and make a stub for it. Be bold, etc. --ESP 05:42, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Languages with more than 1 million speakersEdit

Could anybody give an information if Nahuatl and Quechua are the only indigene American languages spoken by more than 1 million people? Thank you.-- 18:09, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

K'iche Maya has two million , Guaraní has 7 million,

(Yukatek maya has 900,000, Zapotec 750,000, Mixtec 500,000)Maunus 11:40, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Aymara also has over 1 million. I was also under the impressio n that there were a couple of others as well. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Node ue (talkcontribs) 11:25, 19 February 2007 (UTC).

Place Names with indiginous origins?Edit

I'd like to see a list of place names (cities, towns, states, etc.) with Native American origins. E.g. here I guess it should belong in its own article, which should be linked from this article.

All the information on that website is basically already in the article List of U.S. state name etymologies. In fact, that site has a lot of errors and generalities too. Including anything more than states and major cities would lead to an extremely long list, anyway. --Red Newt 20:02, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Languages by continentEdit

What's up with the languages by continent bar near the end? Last I checked, Africa was a continent. I'd change it but in the script it just says Template:Languages by Continent so I have no clue how to... -samaraphile

-ello endingEdit

I often hear the ending '-ello' in North American native languages, mostly '-yello' and often 'nee yello'. I heard it a lot in Into the West (miniseries), where most Indians were Lakota, but I believe I've heard it before. What does this mean and which languages is it used in? (btw, I asked at the languaage ref desk, but didn't get an answer there, so I thought I'd try here.) DirkvdM 11:29, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

-yelo is an ending used only in Lakhota which is the mos often used native american language in american movies (e.g. dances with wolves). It is used by a male speaker to show that an assertive utterance is finished.. Read more about it here: Lakota_language#Men_and_women's_speechMaunus 11:34, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Stiltx people/Stiltx language in James Teit??Edit

Researching something else, I just came across a passage in James Teit's work on the Thompson IndiansNlaka'pamux, available on line and linked here to the pertinent page, saying in a discussion peoples known to the Nlaka'pamux:

A tribe to to the southeast, ten days' journey from Spences Bridge, neither Salish nor Sahaptin, came sometimes to trade fish near the mouth of Nicola River.

Now who might that be? Could it be the Cayuse? The name is clearly, to me anyway, Nlaka'pamux and not in their language.Skookum1 23:10, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Sound SampleEdit

I was wondering if it was possible to acquire any sound samples on the net in which a Northern American Indian language is being spoken, for the purpose of study and presentation. If anyone knows such a link, please let me know. Thank you. --

Why Is Greenland Listed?Edit

I am wondering why Greenland is listed? Does Greenland not fall under Danish jurisdiction, so therefore it should be removed? Mr. C.C. (talk) 04:36, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Its still part of the north american continent.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 06:22, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Although the Queen of Denmark is head of state, it is considered self-rule. But more importlantly, Greenland is part of the North American tectonic plate, it is closest to Nunavut (Canada), and 88% of its inhabitants are Inuit who speak Greenlandic (Kalaallisut, Inuktun, Tunumiit oraasiat, and Upernavik) which is considered one of the Eskimo-Aleut languages. Kman543210 (talk) 01:39, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


I'd like to propose a split in this article, to Indigenous languages of the North America and Mexico, and Indigenous languages of the central and South America, since it's pretty certain the first peoples in the continents did not cross the Caribbean. Whether it was Muskogeans or Arawakans or even Caribans who inhabited the Caribbean, this probably happened later than the initial migration to the Americas, or can you see Cuba from Florida? Calusa might belong to any of those, if I've understood correctly? (talk) 08:24, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't understand the rationale behind this proposal at all. — ℜob C. alias ᴀʟᴀʀoʙ 13:53, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the proposal is not good since the Mesoamerican sprachbund is quite a distínct one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:17, 30 January 2009 (UTC)


Hello, please is there any forum or newsgroup for discussion about native indian languages? Please include in links. this is not yours wikipedia or mine wikipedia. Share information!! -- (talk) 11:28, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

There's several on specific languages, but I'm not familiar with any on Indian languages as a whole. I'm not sure what the complaint about us not sharing information is supposed to mean... --Miskwito (talk) 18:09, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Native Cherokee Lexicon Translation ProjectEdit

Please see Wikipedia:Native Cherokee Lexicon Translation Project. -- Wavelength (talk) 18:03, 17 July 2009 (UTC)


Can't find it in any of the lists, only mentioned in the running text - why? CapnZapp (talk) 15:32, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Because the lists are of language families, and Nahuatl is part of Uto-Aztecan (which is listed). Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 15:48, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Major revisionsEdit

I just revised the background section, reorganized the article structure, added several tables (proposals, language areas, more), and made the article look nicer. Enjoy! — Stevey7788 (talk) 09:30, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

This is falseEdit

"""""North America is notable for its linguistic diversity, especially in California. California alone has 18 genetic units consisting of 74 languages (compared to the mere 3 genetic units in all of Europe: Basque, Indo-European, Uralic).[3]"""""

It has at least four, turkish is not uralic, at least if you talk about uralic altaic family it would include also Turkish language.

If you consider Europe as its official extension, there are more genetic units, for example caucasian, and mongolian (Kalmyk people in caucasus, and I'm sure i'm forgetting some, like Semitic of Malta, who are arabs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:37, 12 October 2010 (UTC) I was just going to add that in the Southeastern corner of Europe, the province of Thrace has been inhabited by a Turkic speaking population since at least the 16th century I think. I was just thinking that whether it's called Altaic, or Uralic, it should be noted as being the fourth language group in Europe, shouldn't it?Prestlll (talk) 17:34, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

uncertain languagesEdit

I've redirected Salumã language, but is that what was intended? Same name, wrong language, maybe? And is Patagon language(s) just Chon? I'm hoping to get rid of all the red links. (Ethn. also has a Salumá, but that's Cariban.) — kwami (talk) 10:55, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Why North of Mexico when counting languages in North America?Edit

Mexico is in North America - why the barrier? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:41, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Partly because there is a huge gap on the Gulf side between Mesoamerica and Texas, where the languages went extinct before they could be recorded, so the US–Mexico border isn't actually a bad place to draw what will invariably be an arbitrary line. Mesoamerica is a very different animal. Also several US-based publications we use as references use the approximate border as a cut-off point. (Mithun 1999 includes languages of Tamaulipas and of northern Baja.) — kwami (talk) 04:54, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

additional languages on WP-esEdit

Some of these are cultures or peoples with unattested languages: Mato Grosso Arara language (iso3), Colima, Comechingón, Huancavilca = Manteño civilization, Humahuaca = Omaguaca, Karahawyana, Korubo (now classified), Sanavirón, Tremembé language (iso3)

Quingnam distinct, or Moche?

Some details, but not found in SIL search: Umbra: La palabra umbrá en su lengua significa "de la cordillera". Esta lengua aún es hablada por varios centenares de personas y aún no ha sido clasificada. Supposedly still spoken in Colombia.

(spurious?) or just unattested: [1]

Lenguas preincaicas de la cuenca del Marañón: Copallen, Rabona, Tabancale, Sacata, Bagua, Patagon [currently a dab], Malacato, Bolona, Xiroa, Chirino, Chacha

kwami (talk) 07:51, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Others we don't cover:

  • Alain Fabre, 2005, Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: JENIPAPO-KANINDÉ.[2]
  • Alain Fabre, 2005, Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: KANTARURÉ.[3]
  • Pasto & Quillacinga & Yanacona
  • Pitaguary
  • Potiguara & Sakiriaba (spuriously Tupi)

The following blue links are simply redirects: Teushen language (to Chon), Nonuya language, Andoquero and Coeruna language (to Bora-Witoto), Tairona language and Old Catío-Nutabe language (to Chibchan), Mocana language (to Malibu), Patagon language (a dab). — kwami (talk) 06:50, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Odd that we list all these barely attested, or even unattested, languages of S.Am. when we don't have Yamasee or Guale for N.Am. — kwami (talk) 11:36, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Map for North AmericaEdit

is there any way to include and actual (e.g. current) map? Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 14:10, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Names in Ruhlen 1987Edit

Here's the list of names in Ruhlen (1987), to make sure we get redirects for them all. This is clipped from a digital copy, but that was done by hand, so non-obvious red links should be checked against the hard copy before making rd's.kwami (talk) 10:34, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages/Language names in Ruhlen (1987) for full list of names in G's classification

Red links and uncertain IDs for Amerindian languages listed in Ruhlen (1987)

Most of these languages are listed (along with many other names) in Loukotka (1968) with "[nothing]" known about them, but a few (¶) are not found in Loukotka. (Most of these are apparent typos in Ruhlen, and I've removed the ⟨¶⟩ as I've ID'd them.)

Where a different spelling of a Ruhlen name appears as a red link in one of the our language-family articles, it is appended in parentheses.

Popayan§ (= Puben§),

Burua* (Buruá), Taware§ (= Tawari, Tauaré),


Caranga§¶ (dbl check: Lokoutka has as Aymara),

Urupa* (= Ituarupa)¹, Herisobocono* (Herisebocon), Ocorono§, San Ignacio§,

Cushichineri* (= Kushichineri, Cuchichineri, Cushitineri), Cutinana* (≈ Aguano?), Casharari* (≠ Kaxarari?), Catiana§, Wainamari§ (Lokoutka has as Arawa),

Pucapacuri* (Pucapucari), Puncuri§, Sirimeri (=Mashco, Sirineiri),

Sae§, Mawacua§ (Mawakwa), Guanebucan§,

Cuati§ (= Coati-tapuya = Kapité-Mínanei), Izaneni§ (Adzáneni), Itayaine§¶, Fitita*,

Quaca* (Quaqua), Pareca*,

Kumayena* (Ocomayana), Arinagoto*,

Caripuna (mis-ID'd per E17), Sinabo*, Zurina* (unknown language),

Capuibo* (unknown), Niarawa*¶ [Niaragua, Niamagua], Pichobo* (unknown), Araua* (unknown), Mayubo*¶, Rëmoxbo [can't confirm name anywhere. maybe Remo+shibo?]*¶,

Yamaluba*, Guariza§ (missions of Reyes & San Antonio de Isiama), Chumana*,

Capachene* (= Capechene, unknown language), Mabenaro*,


Dorin*¶ (Mason 1950 lists as 4th branch of Kaingang),[4] Chiqui* (Xiqui), Amho*,

Acroa, Aricobe* (Akaroa – Lakoutka listed separately from Acroa/Coroa),[The Aricobe listed for Zisa is Tupian] Guegue* (Goguez),

*Not listed in MultiTree
§MultiTree only lists it for Greenberg/Ruhlen/Zisa; no further identification
(Some of these are simply spellings variants which MultiTree failed to identify, and are not marked with a ⟨§⟩ if I identified them through other sources.)
Not listed in Loukotka (1968)

¹ I redirected Urupa to Oro Win, but need to confirm; have not found a source that lists both names

Redirected what I can, and corrected or merged a few articles; the remaining languages are either red links in the family articles, extinct languages which are scarcely attested, or unidentified. Some of those not found in Lokoutka might turn out to be worthwhile. — kwami (talk) 02:26, 30 September 2012 (UTC)


Why is Guaraní not on the map? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:14, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Which map? — kwami (talk) 22:07, 13 July 2013 (UTC)


Sapir's remarks are little short of dishonesty. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

This refers to his Hokan-Siouan stock. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:19, 3 September 2013 (UTC)


About half the Indian langauages in North America have been wiped out. Navaho, however, has actually benefitted from the introduction of modern medicine. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:24, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Statement sounds wrongEdit

"Thousands of languages were spoken by various peoples in North and South America prior to their first contact with Europeans. These encounters occurred between the beginning of the 11th century (with the Nordic settlement of Greenland and failed efforts at Labrador and Newfoundland) and the end of the 15th century (the voyages of Christopher Columbus)."

Is this correct? Surely across the whole of the Americas the majority of first contacts were later than the end of the 15th century? And this wording makes it sound as if lots of contacts were happening between the very limited early Nordic contact and Columbus' voyages, whereas AFAIK there was nothing happening at all. (talk) 03:09, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Also, "Thousands of languages..." needs a footnote. I find "there were perhaps a thousand languages spoken in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans - about 250 in the present territory of the United States alone." at — Preceding unsigned comment added by JFLohr (talkcontribs) 01:58, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

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needs better referencing in BackgroundEdit

ONE citation for several paragraphs (not counting another ref that is not directly related to the topic)? This needs to be firmed up with Reliable Sources. Also, the claim of "thousands of languages" is highly suspect (speaking as a historian.) A solid reference(s) is required here. Note that lingquistically, there is a difference between 'language' and 'dialect.' Please help to validate this section properly. (talk) 06:02, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

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Unexplained changes to listEdit

I have asked User:2001:4C4D:1E43:700:F9FD:F445:6535:A4B3 to stop making changes to the Unattested languages section without explanation, and to discuss such changes here on the talk page before doing so again. - Donald Albury 21:08, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

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