Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Tlapanec language

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Native to  Mexico
Ethnicity  Tlapanec people
Region  Guerrero, Morelos
Native speakers  120,000 (2010 census)
Tlapanec language
Language family  Oto-Mangue Tlapanecan Tlapanec
ISO 639-3  Variously: tcf – Malinaltepec (east) tpc – Azoyú (south) tpl – Tlacoapa (central) tpx – Acatepec (west)

Tlapanec /ˈtlæpənɛk/ is an indigenous Mexican language spoken by more than 98,000 Tlapanec people in the state of Guerrero. Like other Oto-Manguean languages, it is tonal and has complex inflectional morphology. The ethnic group themselves refer to their ethnic identity and language as Me'phaa [meʔpʰaː].


Before much information was known about it, Tlapanec (sometimes written "Tlappanec" in earlier publications) was either considered unclassified or linked to the controversial Hokan language family. It is now definitively considered part of the Oto-Manguean language family, of which it forms its own branch along with the extinct and very closely related Subtiaba language of Nicaragua.

Me'phaa people temporarily move to other locations, including Mexico City, Morelos and various locations in the United States, for reasons of work.


Ethnologue distinguishes four Tlapanec languages:

  • Acatepec (dialects Acatepec proper, Huitzapula, Nanzintla, Teocuitlapa, Zapotitlán Tablas)
  • Azoyú
  • Malinaltepec (dialect Huehuetepec/Zilacayotitlán)
  • Tlacoapa (dialects Tlacoapa proper, Tenamazapa)
  • Other sources of information, including native speakers and the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas of the Mexican government, identify eight or nine varieties, which have been given official status: Acatepec, Azoyú, Malinaltepec, Tlacoapa, Nancintla, Teocuitlapa, Zapotitlán Tablas (with Huitzapula sometimes considered distinct), Zilacayotitlán. These share mutual intelligibility of 50% between Malinaltepec and Tlacoapa, though Acatepec has an 80% intelligibility of both.

    The Azoyú variety is the only natural language reported to have used the pegative case, though it is verbal case like other 'case' markers in Tlapanec.


    Tlapanec is an ergative-absolutive language. However, while most languages of this type have an overt ergative case, Tlapanec is one of the rare examples of a marked absolutive language, that is, an ergative language that overtly marks the absolutive and leaves the ergative unmarked


    Tlapanec-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XEZV-AM, broadcasting from Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero.


    Tlapanec language Wikipedia

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