Chatino, Tataltepec

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Speaker count for Tataltepec Chatino includes speakers of a different Chatino language

Ryan Sullivant, Tue, 2015-05-12 15:13
ISO 639-3: 

The speaker count given for Tataltepec Chatino [cta] is too high. Ethnologue's figure is the number of Chatino speakers (lumping together all Chatino languages) listed in the Mexican census for the municipality (municipio) of Tataltepec de Valdés. The municipality of Tataltepec de Valdés contains the town (pueblo) of Tataltepec de Valdés, where Tataltepec Chatino is spoken, but also contains the even larger town of Santa Cruz Tepenixtlahuaca, where a different Chatino language (probably [ctp]) is spoken. My own work in Tataltepec de Valdés, as reported in pp. 24-28 of my recent dissertation (, identified only 541 persons who were known to my Tataltepec Chatino consultant to have any proficiency in the language at all. If we subtract the 541 Tataltepec town speakers from the 2640 Tataltepec municipality speakers, we arrive at 2099 Chatino speakers who are residents of Tepenixtlahuaca and speak a Chatino language distinct from Tataltepec Chatino. This figure of 2099 Chatino speakers in Tepenixtlahuaca would mean that a Chatino language is spoken in that town by 82% of its population, which is an appropriate amount given that Chatino is quite vital in Tepenixtlahuaca. I have also only encountered one quite elderly monolingual speaker of Tataltepec Chatino during my fieldwork in Tataltepec de Valdés between 2009 and 2012. While I cannot be certain about the number of monolingual Chatino speakers in the town of Tataltepec, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of the 470 monolingual Chatino speakers were residents of Tepenixtlahuaca, not Tataltepec, and therefore did not speak Tataltepec Chatino. I also would disagree with the characterization that Tataltepec Chatino is spoken by "All ages". Very few children are speaking Tataltepec Chatino today, and nearly every fully conversant person I have met is thirty years old or older.

Editorial Action

We will make these changes for the Chatino languages in Mexico in the 19th edition database.