Macro-Mayan languages

Linguistic classificationProposed language family

Macro-Mayan is a proposal linking the clearly established Mayan family with neighboring families that show similarities to Mayan.

The first proposals of this hypothesis were made by Norman McQuown in 1942 who linked Mayan and Mixe–Zoquean. The hypothesis was not elaborated until 1979 when Brown and Witkowski put forth a proposal with 62 cognate sets and supposed sound correspondences between the two families. They also published two articles proposing a "Mesoamerican Phylum" composed of Macro-Mayan and other language families of Mesoamerica. This proposal was examined closely by Lyle Campbell and Terrence Kaufman who rejected the proposal because of serious flaws in the methodology that had been applied. They rejected almost all of the 62 cognates. First and foremost they found it important to identify all cases of linguistic diffusion before collecting possible cognates because diffusion has been widespread within the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area. The exchanges between Brown and Witkowski and Campbell and Kaufman took place in the journal American Anthropologist between 1978 and 1983.

However, Campbell wrote that he believed that Mayan would indeed some day prove to be related to Mixe–Zoquean and Totonacan (Campbell: 1997), but that the studies up to then had done nothing to support such an assumption. (This may have changed for Mixe–Zoquean and Totonacan themselves, with the Totozoquean proposal.) In Campbell's opinion, Huave is more likely connected to Oto-Manguean, as suggested by Morris Swadesh.

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