Usila Chinantec

Last updated
Native to Mexico
Region Oaxaca, one town in Veracruz
Ethnicity Chinantecs
Native speakers
7,400 (2000) [1]
  • Western Oto-Mangue

Language codes
ISO 639-3 cuc
Glottolog usil1237 [2]

Usila is a Chinantec language of Mexico. It is most similar to Tlacoatzintepec Chinantec, with which it has 50% intelligibility (intelligibility in the reverse direction is 85%, presumably due to greater familiarity in that direction). [3]

Like other Chinantec and Mazatec languages, Usila Chinantec is a tonal language noted for having whistled speech. Its tone system is unusually detailed, however, with five register tones.

Related Research Articles

Whistled languages use whistling to emulate speech and facilitate communication. A whistled language is a system of whistled communication which allows fluent whistlers to transmit and comprehend a potentially unlimited number of messages over long distances. Whistled languages are different in this respect from the restricted codes sometimes used by herders or animal trainers to transmit simple messages or instructions. Generally, whistled languages emulate the tones or vowel formants of a natural spoken language, as well as aspects of its intonation and prosody, so that trained listeners who speak that language can understand the encoded message.

Chinantecan languages language family

The Chinantec or Chinantecan languages constitute a branch of the Oto-Manguean family. Though traditionally considered a single language, Ethnologue lists 14 partially mutually unintelligible varieties of Chinantec. The languages are spoken by the indigenous Chinantec people who live in Oaxaca and Veracruz, Mexico, especially in the districts of Cuicatlán, Ixtlán de Juárez, Tuxtepec and Choapan, and in Staten Island, New York.

Kirundi Bantu language

Kirundi, also known as Rundi, is a Bantu language spoken by 9 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in Uganda. It is the official language of Burundi. Kirundi is mutually intelligible with Kinyarwanda, an official language of Rwanda, and the two form part of the wider dialect continuum known as Rwanda-Rundi.

Oto-Manguean languages language family

Oto-Manguean languages are a large family comprising several subfamilies of indigenous languages of the Americas. All of the Oto-Manguean languages that are now spoken are indigenous to Mexico, but the Manguean branch of the family, which is now extinct, was spoken as far south as Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Oto-Manguean is widely viewed as a proven language family. However, this status has been recently challenged.

Akan is a Central Tano language that is the principal native language of the Akan people of Ghana, spoken over much of the southern half of Ghana, by about 80% of the population, and among 41% of the population of Ivory Coast.

Dinka is a Nilotic dialect cluster spoken by the Dinka people, the major ethnic group of South Sudan. There are several main varieties, Padang, Rek, Agaar, Awiel, Twic Mayardit, Hol, Nyarweng, Twi and Bor, which are distinct enough to require separate literary standards. Jaang, Jieng or Monyjieng is used as a general term to cover all Dinka languages. Rek is the standard and prestige dialect.

Ewondo or Kolo is the language of the Ewondo people of Cameroon. The language had 577,700 native speakers in 1982. Ewondo is a trade language. Dialects include Badjia (Bakjo), Bafeuk, Bamvele, Bane, Beti, Enoah, Evouzok, Fong, Mbida-Bani, Mvete, Mvog-Niengue, Omvang, Yabekolo (Yebekolo), Yabeka, and Yabekanga. Ewondo speakers live primarily in Cameroon's Centre Region and the northern part of the Océan division in the South Region.

Ukaan is a poorly described Niger–Congo language or dialect cluster of uncertain affiliation. Roger Blench suspects, based on wordlists, that it may be closest to the (East) Benue–Congo languages. Blench (2012) states that "noun-classes and concord make it look Benue-Congo, but evidence is weak."

Eton, or Ìtón, is a Bantu language spoken by the Eton people of Cameroon.

Central Banda is a dialect continuum of the Banda languages spoken by around one million people, primarily in the Central African Republic. The varieties may be mutually intelligible, especially the Mid-Southern–Gobu–Kpagua–Mono–Ngundu cluster. The other varieties are Bambari, Banda-Banda, Mbrès, Ndélé, and Togbo-Vara Banda.

Sochiapam is a Chinantec language of Mexico. It is most similar to Tlacoatzintepec Chinantec, with which it has 66% intelligibility.

Mixtepec Zapotec is an Oto-Manguean language of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is reported to have 80% intelligibility with Lapaguía Zapotec, but with only 45% intelligibility in the other direction.

Kyirong–Kagate languages subgroup of Tibetic languages

Kyirong–Kagate is a subgroup of Tibetic languages spoken primarily in Nepal, with a hundred or so speakers across the border in Tibet.

Highland Chinantec is a Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in Comaltepec, San Juan Quiotepec, and surrounding towns in northern Oaxaca. It has a complex system of tone and vowel length compared to other Chinantec languages. The two principal varieties, Quiotepec and Comaltepec, have marginal mutual intelligibility. Yolox Chinantec is somewhat less divergent.

Ojitlán Chinantec is a major Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in four towns in San Lucas Ojitlán of northern Oaxaca, and in the Veracruz municipos of Minatitlán and Hidalgotitlán.

Ozumacín Chinantec is a Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in northern Oaxaca in the towns of San Pedro Ozumacín, Ayotzintepec, Santiago Progreso.

Tepetotutla Chinantec is a minor Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in northern Oaxaca in the towns of Santa Cruz Tepetotutla, San Antonio del Barrio, San Pedro Tlatepusco, Santo Tomás Texas, Vega del Sol, and El Naranjal. It has 60% intelligibility with Quiotepec Chinantec and Palantla Chinantec.

Palantla Chinantec, also known as Chinanteco de San Pedro Tlatepuzco, is a major Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in San Juan Palantla and a couple dozen neighboring towns in northern Oaxaca. The variety of San Mateo Yetla, known as Valle Nacional Chinantec, has marginal mutual intelligibility.

Chiltepec-Tlacoatzintepec Chinantec is a Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in northern Oaxaca in the towns of San José Chiltepec, San Juan Bautista Tlacoatzintepec, San Pedro Alianza, Santiago Quetzalapa, and San Juan Zapotitlán. The two principal varieties, Chinantec and Tlacoatzintepec, have marginal mutual intelligibility. They are close to Sochiapan Chinantec.

Lalana-Tepinapa Chinantec is a Chinantecan language of Mexico, spoken in 30 towns in a remote region along the Oaxaca–Veracruz border. Outlying varieties of Lalana and Tepinapa Chinantec have only marginal intelligibility with each other. A third of speakers are monolingual.


  1. Usila at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Usila Chinantec". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.