Tol language

Last updated
(Eastern) Jicaque, Jicaque de la Flor
Region Honduras
Ethnicity19,600 Tolupan (1990) [1]
Native speakers
almost 500 (2012) [2]
Hokan  ?
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jic
Glottolog toll1241

Tol (Tolpan), also known as Eastern Jicaque, Tolupan, and Torupan, is spoken by approximately 500 Tolupan people in La Montaña de la Flor reservation in Francisco Morazán Department, Honduras.



Tol speakers refer to themselves as the Tolpán, but are called Jicaques or Turrupanes by ladinos.

Former extent

Tol was also spoken in much of Yoro Department, but only a few speakers were reported in the Yoro Valley in 1974.

Tol used to be spoken from the Río Ulúa in the west, to modern-day Trujillo in the east, and to the Río Sulaco in the inland south. This area included the areas around modern-day El Progreso, La Ceiba, and possibly also San Pedro Sula. Most Tolupan had fled the Spanish from coastal regions by the early 1800s. The Tol speakers at La Montaña de la Flor fled the Yoro Valley in 1865 to avoid being conscripted into forced labor by the local governor (Campbell & Oltrogge 1980:206, Hagen 1943, Chapman 1978).



Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
plain p t t͡ɕ k ʔ
aspirated t͡ɕʰ
ejective t͡ɕʼ
Fricative β s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Lateral l
Semivowel w j


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid e o
Open a



The following overview is based on Haurholm-Larsen (2014). [4]

Constituent order

The basic constituent order of Tol is SOV and the language displays a consistently head final order of constituents, i.e. verbs follow the subject and the object, there are postpositions instead of prepositions, and subordinating conjunctions appear at the end of subordinate clauses.


Verbs and nouns are inflected for person, number and, in the case of verbs, tense, using a number of different morpho-syntactic means which often conflate various meanings (polyexponentiality). These means include, prefixing, suffixing and infixing, ablaut and stress shift and the use of independent pronouns. Tense is also expressed by the use of particles. Number is only marked in noun phrases with animate referents. Some examples are given below.

m-wayúm 'my husband'
w-y-ayúm 'your husband'
woyúm 'her husband'
kʰis wayúm 'our husband'
his wayúm 'your husband'
his wayúm 'their husband'
napʰ üsü müˀüs 'I am drinking water'
hipʰ üsü müs 'you are drinking water'
hupʰ üsü mü 'he is drinking water'
kupʰ üsü miskʰékʰ 'we are drinking water'
nun üsü müskʰé 'you are drinking water'
yupʰ üsü miˀün 'they are drinking water'

Most nouns take one of three suffixes: -(sV)s, -(V)N, -(V)kʰ.


wo-sís 'house' (root: wa)
sitʰ-ím 'avocado' (root: sitʰ)
kʰon-íkʰ 'bed' (root: kʰan)

Nouns that never take suffixes refer to body parts and kinship terms.

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  1. Tol at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. Haurholm-Larsen, Steffen. 2012. ¿A quién le importa? Una encuesta sociolingüística de la lengua tol o jicaque de Honduras. Talk given at 54th Congress of Americanists. Vienna.
  3. Ilah Fleming, Ronald K. Dennis (1977). International Journal of American Linguistics Vol. 43, No. 2. pp. 121–127.
  4. Haurholm-Larsen, Steffen. 2014. Exploring grammatical categories of Tol. Talk given at Workshop "State of the art of Mesoamerican linguistics". Leipzig.