Toba-Maskoy language

Last updated
Native to Paraguay
Ethnicity2,100 (2007) [1]
Native speakers
1,700 (2007) [1]
  • Maskoy
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tmf
Glottolog toba1268
ELP Enenlhet

Maskoy, or Toba-Maskoy, is one of several languages of the Paraguayan Chaco (Particularly in the northern region of Paraguay) called Toba . It is spoken on a reservation near Puerto Victoria. Toba-Maskoy is currently a threatened language at risk of becoming an extinct language, due to the low number of native speakers.



Toba-Maskoy was derived from Paraguay, specifically in the Chaco region of the Alto Paraguay department. [2]

Geographic Distribution

Toba-Maskoy is spoken near Puerto Victoria, in the north of Paraguay.

Official Status

Though Toba-Maskoy is not the official language of Paraguay, it has a special well known status in the northern part of El Chaco.


Toba Maskoy is one of the five members of the Maskoy linguistic family, the other four include: Angaite, Enxet, Kaskiha, and Sanapan. [3]

Vocabulary and Grammar

It is believed that around 1870 some Toba chiefs immigrated from Argentina escaping constant victimization of their peoples, thus settling in Alto Paraguay. Since that transitional period, the language suffered both linguistically and culturally. [4] To this day it is rare to find grammar or writings in Toba-Maskoy due to a significant loss in the linguistic elements.

Number System

The below table shows the Toba number system, which has separate words for and all other numbers being composites of these words. According to Closs [5] , the number 1 is always used in terms of addition.

While the number is derived from the word "equals", which indicates the understanding of the concept of 2- groupings. Multiplication in the Toba Number system only occurs in the form of doubling, however this number system demonstrates the understanding of additive and basic multiplicative properties.

, Toba Number Sequence [5] [6]
Decimal NumberToba NumberNotes
2cacyni, nivoca
5nivoca cacainilia
6cacayni cacynilia
7nathedac cacayni cacaynilia
8nivoca nalotapegat
9nivoca nalotapegat nathedac
10cacayni nivoca nalotapegat

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  1. 1 2 Maskoy at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. Gynan, Shawn N. (2007). "Language Planning and Policy in Paraguay". In Baldauf, Richard B.; Kaplan, Robert B. (eds.). Language Planning and Policy in Latin America. Vol. 1. Multilingual Matters. ISBN   978-1-84769-006-7.
  3. Miller, Elmer S., ed. (2001). Peoples of the Gran Chaco. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN   978-0-89789-802-7.
  4. Durante, Santiago (2011). "Las lenguas del Gran Chaco: situación socio-lingüística y políticas lingüísticas". Language Design. 13: 115–142.
  5. 1 2 Native American mathematics. Michael P. Closs. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1986. ISBN   978-0-292-71185-3. OCLC   14959578.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. McGee, W.J (1900). "Primitive Numbers". Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. 19th Annual Report: 838 via Smithsonian Institution.