Matacoan languages

Matacoan languages
Linguistic classification: Mataco–Guaicuru ?
  • Matákoan

Matacoan (also Mataguayan, Matákoan, Mataguayo, Mataco–Mataguayo, Matacoano, Matacoana) is a language family of northern Argentina, western Paraguay, and southeastern Bolivia.


Family division

Matacoan consists of four clusters of languages. Gordon (2005) divides Wichí into three separate languages, and Chorote into two languages.

  1. Wichí (aka Mataco, Wichi, Wichí Lhamtés, Weenhayek, Noctenes, Matahuayo, Matako, Weʃwo. The name Mataco is common but pejorative.)
    1. Vejoz (aka Vejo, Pilcomayo, Bermejo, Wichí Lhamtés Vejoz)
    2. Noktén (aka Noctén, Wichí Lhamtés Nocten)
    3. Wiznay (aka Güisnay, Wichí Lhamtés Güisnay)
    4. Matawayo (aka Matahuayo).
  2. Chorote (aka Chorotí, Yofúaha, Tsoloti)
    1. Manhui (aka Manjuy, Iyo’wujwa Chorote)
    2. Eklenhui (aka Eclenjuy, Eklehui, Iyojwa’ja Chorote, Chorote, Choroti).
  3. Nivaclé (aka Chulupí–Ashlushlay, Chulupí, Ajlujlay, Alhulhai, Niwaklé, Niwaqli, Churupi, Chulupe. The name Chulupí is common but pejorative.)
    1. Forest Nivaclé
    2. River Nivaclé
  4. Maká (aka Macá, Maca, Towolhi, Toothle, Nynaka, Mak’á, Enimaca, Enimaga)
    1. Ma’ká (aka Towolhi)
    2. Enimaga (aka Enimaa, Kochaboth)

Genetic relations

Morris Swadesh includes Matacoan along with Guaicuruan, Charruan, and Mascoyan within his Macro-Mapuche stock.

Joseph Greenberg places Matacoan within a Mataco–Guaicuru grouping similar to Swadesh's Macro-Mapuche with the exception that his Mataco–Guaicuru also includes Lule–Vilela. Mataco–Guaicuru is then connected with Panoan, Tacanan, and Mosetenan in his larger Macro-Panoan phylum.

Kaufman (1990) suggests that the Matacoan–Guaicuruan–Charruan–Mascoyan–Lule–Vilela proposal deserves to be explored – a grouping which he calls Macro-Waikurúan. Kaufman's (1994) Macro-Waikurúan proposal excludes Lule–Vilela.



  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Fabre, Alain (2005) Los Mataguayo

(Online version:

  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  • Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge.

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