Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Sayula Popoluca

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Native to  Mexico
Native speakers  3,400 (2007)
Glottolog  sayu1241
Region  Vera Cruz
ISO 639-3  pos
Language family  Mixe–Zoque Mixean Sayula Popoluca

Sayula Popoluca, also called Sayultec, is a Mixe language spoken by around 4,000 indigenous people in and around the town of Sayula de Alemán in the southern part of the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Almost all published research on the language has been the work of Lawrence E. Clark of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. More recent studies of Sayula Popoluca have been conducted by Dennis Holt (lexico-semantics) and Richard A. Rhodes (morphology and syntax), but few of their findings have been published.


'Popoluca' is the Castilian alteration of the Nahuatl word popoloca, meaning 'barbarians' or 'people speaking a foreign language'. In Mexico, the name 'Popoluca' is a traditional name for various Mixe-Zoquean languages, and the name 'Popoloca' is a traditional name for a totally unrelated language belonging to the Oto-Manguean languages.

Natively it is known as yamay ajw 'local language' or tʉcmay-ajw 'language of the home'.


s is only found in Spanish loans.

Sayula vowels are short, long, and broken (i.e. glottalized, represented here as Vʔ).

There are two systems of orthography in the published literature.

  • Clark (1961, 1995) uses some Spanish orthographic principles. h is spelled j. j is spelled y. ʔ is spelled '. ʃ is spelled . is spelled ch. k is spelled qu before i and e, and c elsewhere. Similarly g is spelled gu before i and e, and g elsewhere. Syllable final w is spelled u. ɨ is spelled ʉ. Vowel length is indicated by an underline. Unassimilated Spanish loans are spelled as in Spanish.
  • Clark (1983) uses an orthography closer to IPA, but as in the other orthography ɨ is spelled ʉ, and ʔ is spelled '. s is š. ts is spelled c. is spelled č. Length is spelled with a colon.
  • The orthography of Clark (1983) is used here.


    Sayula Popoluca verbs are inflected for person and number of subject and object, for aspect, and for the difference between independent and dependent.

    Dependency is marked by the allomorphy of the aspect markers, as shown in the following paradigm.

    Sayula Popoluca marks agreement in transitive clause in an inverse system (Tatsumi, 2013). Speech Act Participants (SAP) 1EXCL, 1INCL, and 2 outrank 3. There is a separate system in which a topical 3rd person (PROXIMATE) outranks a non-topical 3rd person (OBVIATIVE). The pattern of person marking is given in Table I (adapted from Tatsumi, 2013:88).

    Table I

    The inverse system is also reflected in the form of the plural marker. In the case in which a higher ranking singular acts on a lower ranking plural, the plural marker is -kʉš-, elsewhere the plural is as in the singular, -ka-. An example paradigm is given below:

    Inversion affects he allomorphy of both the person marking and the aspect marking (Clark (1961:195) with the result that the inverse forms have no distinct dependent form.


    Sayula Popoluca Wikipedia

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