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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indigenous languages of the Americas (or Amerindian Languages) are spoken by indigenous peoples from the southern tip of South America to Alaska and Greenland, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language isolates and unclassified languages. Many proposals to group these into higher-level families have been made. According to UNESCO, most of the indigenous American languages in North America are critically endangered and many of them are already extinct.[1]



Thousands of languages were spoken in North and South America prior to first contact with Europeans between the beginning of the eleventh century (Norwegian settlement of Greenland and attempted settlement of Labrador and Newfoundland) and the end of the fifteenth century (the voyages of Christopher Columbus). The attitudes of most of the European colonizers and their successor states toward Native American languages ranged from benign neglect to active suppression. John Eliot of Massachusetts, however, translated the Bible into an Algonquian language usually called Wampanoag, Massachusett or Natick (1661–63; the first Bible printed in North America) and Spanish missionaries preached to the natives in local languages. They actually spread Quechua beyond its original geographic area. Several indigenous creole languages developed in the Americas from European languages.

But in most cases, the aboriginal languages of the Americas suffered extinction. Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, Italian and Dutch were brought to the Americas by European settlers and administrators, and are the official or national languages of most modern nation-states of the Americas.

That said, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru have one or more official indigenous languages in addition to the colonial language. Since 2009, Greenland has Kalaallisut as its sole official language. Several indigenous languages of the Americas had developed their own writing systems, including the Mayan languages and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and nearby related peoples (e.g., the Pipil in El Salvador). These and many other indigenous languages later adapted the Latin alphabet or Canadian Aboriginal syllabics.

Tlingit was first written by Russian missionaries in the Cyrillic alphabet, when Alaska and the coast of North America down to Sonoma County, California, were in contact with the Russian Empire. It is now written in the Roman alphabet.

Indigenous languages vary greatly in the number of speakers, from Quechua, Aymara, Guarani, and Nahuatl with millions of active speakers to a number of languages with only a handful of elderly speakers.

Very few remain in regular usage among members of tribal communities. The Navajo language is the most spoken in the United States of America, with over 200,000 speakers in the Southwestern United States. It was used as a radio army code by the Navajo Code Talkers during World War II to preserve secret commands and was not cracked by the Nazis nor the Imperial Japanese.[citation needed]

Language families (& isolates)


  • Extinct languages or families are indicated by: .
  • The number of family members is indicated in parentheses (for example, Arauan (9) means the Arauan family consists of nine languages).
  • Out of convenience, the following list of language families is divided in 3 sections based on political boundaries of countries. These sections correspond roughly with the geographic regions (North, Central, & South America) but are not equivalent. This division also does not cleanly delineate indigenous culture areas.

South America

Although both North and Central America are very diverse areas, South America has a linguistic diversity rivalled by only a few other places in the world with approximately 350 languages still spoken and an estimated 1,500 languages at first European contact. The situation of language documentation and classification into genetic families is not as advanced as in North America (which is relatively well-studied in many areas). Kaufman (1994: 46) gives the following appraisal:

Since the mid 1950s, the amount of published material on SA [South America] has been gradually growing, but even so, the number of researchers is far smaller than the growing number of linguistic communities whose speech should be documented. Given the current employment opportunities, it is not likely that the number of specialists in SA Indian languages will increase fast enough to document most of the surviving SA languages before they go out of use, as most of them unavoidably will. More work languishes in personal files than is published, but this is a standard problem.
It is fair to say that SA and New Guinea are linguistically the poorest documented parts of the world. However, in the early 1960s fairly systematic efforts were launched in Papua New Guinea, and that area – much smaller than SA, to be sure – is in general much better documented than any part of indigenous SA of comparable size.

As a result, many relationships between languages and language families have not been determined and some of those relationships that have been proposed are on somewhat shaky ground.

The list of language families and isolates below is a rather conservative one based on Campbell (1997). Many of the proposed (and often speculative) groupings of families can be seen in Campbell (1997), Gordon (2005), Kaufman (1990, 1994), Key (1979), Loukotka (1968), and in the Language stock proposals section below.

  1. Aguano
  2. Aikaná (Brazil: Rondônia) (also known as Aikanã, Tubarão)
  3. Andaquí (also known as Andaqui, Andakí)
  4. Andoque (Colombia, Peru) (also known as Andoke)
  5. Andoquero
  6. Arauan (9)
  7. Arutani-Sape (2) (also known as Arutani-sapé)
  8. Aushiri (also known as Auxira)
  9. Aymaran (3)
  10. Baenan (Brazil: Bahia) (also known as Baenán, Baenã)
  11. Barbacoan (8)
  12. Betoi (Colombia) (also known as Betoy, Jirara)
  13. Bororoan
  14. Botocudoan (3) (also known as Aimoré)
  15. Cahuapanan (2) (also known as Jebero, Kawapánan)
  16. Camsá (Colombia) (also known as Sibundoy, Coche)
  17. Candoshi (also known as Maina, Kandoshi)
  18. Canichana (Bolivia) (also known as Canesi, Kanichana)
  19. Carabayo
  20. Cariban (29) (also known as Caribe, Carib)
  21. Catacaoan (also known as Katakáoan)
  22. Cayubaba (Bolivia)
  23. Chapacura-Wanham (9) (also known as Chapacuran, Txapakúran)
  24. Charruan (also known as Charrúan)
  25. Chibchan (Central America & South America) (22)
  26. Chimuan (3)
  27. Chipaya-Uru languages (also known as Uru-Chipaya)
  28. Chiquitano
  29. Choco (10) (also known as Chocoan)
  30. Cholonan
  31. Chon (2) (also known as Patagonian)
  32. Coeruna (Brazil)
  33. Cofán (Colombia, Ecuador)
  34. Cueva
  35. Culle (Peru) (also known as Culli, Linga, Kulyi)
  36. Cunza (Chile, Bolivia, Argentina) (also known as Atacama, Atakama, Atacameño, Lipe, Kunsa)
  37. Esmeraldeño (also known as Esmeralda, Takame)
  38. Fulnió
  39. Gamela (Brazil: Maranhão)
  40. Gorgotoqui (Bolivia)
  41. Guaicuruan (7) (also known as Guaykuruan, Waikurúan)
  42. Guajiboan (4) (also known as Wahívoan)
  43. Guamo (Venezuela) (also known as Wamo)
  44. Guató
  45. Harakmbut (2) (also known as Tuyoneri)
  46. Hodï (Venezuela) (also known as Jotí, Hoti, Waruwaru)
  47. Huamoé (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  48. Huaorani (Ecuador, Peru) (also known as Auca, Huaorani, Wao, Auka, Sabela, Waorani, Waodani)
  49. Huarpe (also known as Warpe)
  50. Irantxe (Brazil: Mato Grosso)
  51. Itonama (Bolivia) (also known as Saramo, Machoto)
  52. Jirajaran (3) (also known as Hiraháran, Jirajarano, Jirajarana)
  53. Jabutian
  54. Je (13) (also known as Gê, Jêan, Gêan, Ye)
  55. Jeikó
  56. Jivaroan (2) (also known as Hívaro)
  57. Kaimbe
  58. Kaliana (also known as Caliana, Cariana, Sapé, Chirichano)
  59. Kamakanan
  60. Kapixaná (Brazil: Rondônia) (also known as Kanoé, Kapishaná)
  61. Karajá
  62. Karirí (Brazil: Paraíba, Pernambuco, Ceará)
  63. Katembrí
  64. Katukinan (3) (also known as Catuquinan)
  65. Kawésqar (Chile) (Kaweskar, Alacaluf, Qawasqar, Halawalip, Aksaná, Hekaine)
  66. Kwaza language (Koayá) (Brazil: Rondônia)
  67. Kukurá (Brazil: Mato Grosso)
  68. Leco (Lapalapa, Leko)
  69. Lule (Argentina) (also known as Tonocoté)
  70. Maipurean (South America & Caribbean) (64) (also known as Maipuran, Arawakan, Arahuacan)
  71. Maku language (also known as Macu)
  72. Malibú (also known as Malibu)
  73. Mapudungu (Chile, Argentina) (also known as Araucanian, Mapuche, Huilliche)
  74. Mascoyan (5) (also known as Maskóian, Mascoian)
  75. Matacoan (4) (also known as Mataguayan)
  76. Matanawí
  77. Maxakalían (3) (also known as Mashakalían)
  78. Mocana (Colombia: Tubará)
  79. Mochita
  80. Mosetenan (also known as Mosetén)
  81. Movima (Bolivia)
  82. Munichi (Peru) (also known as Muniche)
  83. Muran (4)
  84. Mutú (also known as Loco)
  85. Muzo (Colombia)
  86. Nambiquaran (5)
  87. Natú (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  88. Nonuya (Peru, Colombia)
  89. Ofayé
  90. Old Catío-Nutabe (Colombia)
  91. Omurano (Peru) (also known as Mayna, Mumurana, Numurana, Maina, Rimachu, Roamaina, Umurano)
  92. Otí (Brazil: São Paulo)
  93. Otomacoan (2)
  94. Paez (also known as Nasa Yuwe)
  95. Pakarara
  96. Palta
  97. Panche
  98. Pankararú (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  99. Pano-Tacanan (33)
  100. Pantagora
  101. Panzaleo (Ecuador) (also known as Latacunga, Quito, Pansaleo)
  102. Patagón
  103. Peba-Yaguan (2) (also known as Yaguan, Yáwan, Peban)
  104. Pijao
  105. Puelche (Chile) (also known as Guenaken, Gennaken, Pampa, Pehuenche, Ranquelche)
  106. Puinavean (8) (also known as Makú)
  107. Puquina (Bolivia)
  108. Purian (2)
  109. Quechuan (46)
  110. Resígaro (Colombia-Peru border area)
  111. Rikbaktsá
  112. Saliban (2) (also known as Sálivan)
  113. Salumã (Brazil)
  114. Sechura language (Atalan, Sec)
  115. Tairona (Colombia)
  116. Tarairiú (Brazil: Rio Grande do Norte)
  117. Taruma
  118. Taushiro (Peru) (also known as Pinchi, Pinche)
  119. Tequiraca (Peru) (also known as Tekiraka, Avishiri)
  120. Teushen (Patagonia, Argentina)
  121. Ticuna (Colombia, Peru, Brazil) (also known as Magta, Tikuna, Tucuna, Tukna, Tukuna)
  122. Timotean (2)
  123. Tiniguan (2) (also known as Tiníwan, pamigua)
  124. Tucanoan (15)
  125. Trumai (Brazil: Xingu, Mato Grosso)
  126. Tupian (70, including Guaraní)
  127. Tuxá (Brazil: Bahia, Pernambuco)
  128. Urarina (also known as Shimacu, Itukale, Shimaku)
  129. Vilela
  130. Wakona
  131. Warao (Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela) (also known as Guarao)
  132. Wayuu (Venezuela and Colombia)
  133. Witotoan (6) (also known as Huitotoan, Bora-Witótoan)
  134. Xokó (Brazil: Alagoas, Pernambuco) (also known as Shokó)
  135. Xukurú (Brazil: Pernambuco, Paraíba)
  136. Yaghan (Chile) (also known as Yámana)
  137. Yaruro (also known as Jaruro)
  138. Yanomaman (4)
  139. Yuracare (Bolivia)
  140. Yuri (Colombia, Brazil) (also known as Carabayo, Jurí)
  141. Yurumanguí (Colombia) (also known as Yurimangui, Yurimangi)
  142. Zamucoan (2)
  143. Zaparoan (5) (also known as Záparo)

North America

Mexico and Central America

The indigenous languages of Mexico that have more than 100,000 speakers
  1. Alagüilac (Guatemala)'
  2. Algic (United States, Canada & Mexico) (29)
  3. Bribri (Costa Rica)
  4. Boruca (Costa Rica)
  5. Chibchan (Central America & South America) (22)
  6. Chorotega (Costa Rica)
  7. Coahuilteco
  8. Comecrudan (Texas & Mexico) (3)
  9. Cotoname
  10. Cuitlatec (Mexico: Guerrero)
  11. Guaicurian (8)
  12. Huetar (Costa Rica)
  13. Huave
  14. Jicaquean
  15. Lencan
  16. Maratino (northeastern Mexico)
  17. Mayan (31)
  18. Misumalpan
  19. Mixe-Zoquean (19)
  20. Na-Dené (United States, Canada & Mexico) (40)
  21. Naolan (Mexico: Tamaulipas)
  22. Oto-Manguean (27)
  23. P'urhépecha
  24. Quinigua (northeast Mexico)
  25. Seri
  26. Solano
  27. Tequistlatecan (3)
  28. Totonacan (2)
  29. Uto-Aztecan (United States & Mexico) (33)
  30. Xincan
  31. Yuman-Cochimí (United States & Mexico) (11)

United States, Canada and Greenland

Pre-contact distribution of North American language families north of Mexico

There are approximately 296 spoken (or formerly spoken) indigenous languages north of Mexico, 269 of which are grouped into 29 families (the remaining 27 languages are either isolates or unclassified). The Na-Dené, Algic, and Uto-Aztecan families are the largest in terms of number of languages. Uto-Aztecan has the most speakers (1.95 million) if the languages in Mexico are considered (mostly due to 1.5 million speakers of Nahuatl); Na Dene comes in second with approximately 200,000 speakers (nearly 180,000 of these are speakers of Navajo) and Algic in third with about 180,000 speakers (mainly Cree and Ojibwe). Na-Dené and Algic have the widest geographic distributions: Algic currently spans from northeastern Canada across much of the continent down to northeastern Mexico (due to later migrations of the Kickapoo) with two outliers in California (Yurok and Wiyot); Na-Dené spans from Alaska and western Canada through Washington, Oregon, and California to the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico (with one outlier in the Plains). Several families consist of only 2 or 3 languages. Demonstrating genetic relationships has proved difficult due to the great linguistic diversity present in North America. Two large (super-)family proposals, Penutian and Hokan, look particularly promising. However, even after decades of research, a large number of families and isolates remain.

North America is notable for its linguistic diversity, especially in California where it alone has 18 genetic units consisting of 74 languages (compared to the mere 3 genetic units in all of Europe: Basque, Indo-European, Uralic).[2] Another area of considerable diversity appears to have been the Southeast; however, many of these languages became extinct from European contact and as a result they are, for the most part, absent from the historical record. This diversity has been and continues to be very influential in the development of linguistic thought in the U.S.

Due to the diversity of this area, it is difficult to make generalizations that adequately characterize the entire region. Most North American languages have a relatively small number of vowels (i.e. four or five vowels). Languages of the western half of North America often have relatively large consonant inventories. The languages of the Pacific Northwest are notable for their complex phonotactics (for example, some languages have words that lack vowels entirely). The languages of the Plateau area have relatively rare pharyngeals and epiglottals (they are otherwise restricted to Afro-Asiatic and Caucasian languages). Ejective consonants are also common in North America, although they are rare elsewhere (except, again, for the Caucasus region, parts of Africa, and the Mayan family).

Head-marking is found in many languages of North America (as well as in Central and South America), but outside of the Americas it is rare. Many languages throughout North America are polysynthetic (Eskimo-Aleut languages are extreme examples), although this is not characteristic of all North American languages (contrary to what was believed by 19th-century linguists). Several families have unique traits, such as the inverse number marking of Kiowa-Tanoan, the lexical affixes of Wakashan, Salishan and Chimakuan, and the unusual verb structure of Nadene.

The classification below is a composite of Goddard (1996), Campbell (1997), and Mithun (1999).

  1. Adai
  2. Algic (30)
  3. Alsean (2)
  4. Atakapa
  5. Beothuk
  6. Caddoan (5)
  7. Cayuse
  8. Chimakuan (2)
  9. Chimariko
  10. Chinookan (3)
  11. Chitimacha
  12. Chumashan (6)
  13. Coahuilteco
  14. Comecrudan (United States & Mexico) (3)
  15. Coosan (2)
  16. Cotoname
  17. Eskimo-Aleut (7)
  18. Esselen
  19. Haida
  20. Iroquoian (11)
  21. Kalapuyan (3)
  22. Karankawa
  23. Karuk
  24. Keresan (2)
  25. Kiowa-Tanoan (7)
  26. Kutenai
  27. Maiduan (4)
  28. Muskogean (9)
  29. Na-Dené (United States, Canada & Mexico) (39)
  30. Natchez
  31. Palaihnihan (2)
  32. Plateau Penutian (4) (also known as Shahapwailutan)
  33. Pomoan (7)
  34. Salinan
  35. Salishan (23)
  36. Shastan (4)
  37. Siouan-Catawban (19)
  38. Siuslaw
  39. Solano
  40. Takelma
  41. Timucua
  42. Tonkawa
  43. Tsimshianic (2)
  44. Tunica
  45. Utian (15) (also known as Miwok-Costanoan)
  46. Uto-Aztecan (33)
  47. Wakashan (7)
  48. Washo
  49. Wintuan (4)
  50. Yana
  51. Yokutsan (3)
  52. Yuchi
  53. Yuki-Wappo (2) disputed
  54. Yuman-Cochimí (11)
  55. Zuni

Language stock proposals

Many hypothetical language phylum proposals concerning American languages are often cited as uncontroversially demonstrated in more popular writings. However, many of these proposals have, in fact, not been fully demonstrated if even at all. Some proposals are viewed by specialists in a favorable light, believing that genetic relationships are very likely to be established in the future (for example, the Penutian stock). Other proposals are more controversial with many linguists believing that some genetic relationships of a proposal may be demonstrated but much of it undemonstrated (for example, Hokan-Siouan, which, incidentally, Edward Sapir called his "wastepaper basket stock").[3] Still other proposals are almost unanimously rejected by specialists (for example, Amerind). Below is a (partial) list of some such proposals:

  1. Ahuaque-Kalianan
  2. Algonkian-Gulf   (= Algic + Beothuk + Gulf)
  3. Algonquian-Wakashan   (also known as Almosan)
  4. Almosan-Keresiouan   (= Almosan + Keresiouan)
  5. Amerind   (= all languages excepting Eskimo-Aleut & Na-Dené)
  6. (macro-)Arawakan
  7. Aztec-Tanoan   (= Uto-Aztecan + Kiowa-Tanoan)
  8. Chibchan stock
  9. Chibchan-Paezan
  10. Chikitano-Boróroan
  11. Coahuiltecan   (= Coahuilteco + Cotoname + Comecrudan + Karankawa + Tonkawa)
  12. Cunza-Kapixanan
  13. Dené-Yeniseian
  14. Dené-Caucasian
  15. Esmerelda-Yaruroan
  16. Guamo-Chapacuran
  17. Gulf   (= Muskogean + Natchez + Tunica)
  18. Hibito-Cholon
  19. Hokan   (= Karok + Chimariko + Shastan + Palaihnihan + Yana + Pomoan + Washo + Esselen + Yuman-Cochimí + Salinan + Chumashan + Seri + Tequistlatecan)
  20. Hokan-Siouan   (= Hokan + Keresiouan + Subtiaba-Tlappanec + Coahuiltecan + Yukian + Tunican + Natchez + Muskogean + Timucua)
  21. Javaroan-Cahuapanan
  22. Je-Tupi-Carib
  23. Kalianan
  24. Kaweskar language area
  25. Keresiouan   (= Macro-Siouan + Keresan + Yuchi)
  26. Lule-Vilelan
  27. Macro-Andean
  28. Macro-Carib
  29. Macro-Gê   (also known as Macro-Jê)
  30. Macro-Jibaro
  31. Macro-Katembrí-Taruma
  32. Macro-Kulyi-Cholónan
  33. Macro-Lekoan
  34. Macro-Mayan
  35. Macro-Otomákoan
  36. Macro-Paesan
  37. Macro-Panoan
  38. Macro-Puinavean
  39. Macro-Siouan   (= Siouan + Iroquoian + Caddoan)
  40. Macro-Tekiraka-Kanichana
  41. Macro-Tucanoan
  42. Macro-Tupí-Karibe
  43. Macro-Waikurúan
  44. Macro-Warpean   (= Muran + Matanawi + Huarpe)
  45. Mosan   (= Salishan + Wakashan + Chimakuan)
  46. Mosetén-Chonan
  47. Mura-Matanawian
  48. Sapir's Na-Dené including Haida   (= Haida + Tlingit + Eyak + Athabaskan)
  49. Nostratic-Amerind
  50. Paezan (= Andaqui + Paez + Panzaleo)
  51. Paezan-Barbacoan
  52. Penutian   (= many languages of California and sometimes languages in Mexico)
    1. California Penutian   (= Wintuan + Maiduan + Yokutsan + Utian)
    2. Oregon Penutian   (= Takelma + Coosan + Siuslaw + Alsean)
    3. Mexican Penutian   (= Mixe-Zoque + Huave)
  53. Quechumaran
  54. Saparo-Yawan   (also known as Zaparo-Yaguan)
  55. Takelman   (= Takelma + Kalapuyan)
  56. Tunican   (= Tunica + Atakapa + Chitimacha)
  57. Yok-Utian
  58. Yuri-Ticunan

Good discussions of past proposals are found in Campbell (1997) and Campbell & Mithun (1979).

Pidgins, mixed languages and trade languages

  1. American Indian Pidgin English
  2. Basque-Algonquian Pidgin (also known as Micmac-Basque Pidgin, Souriquois)
  3. Broken Oghibbeway (also known as Broken Ojibwa)
  4. Broken Slavey
  5. Bungee (also known as Bungi, Bungie, Bungay, or The Red River Dialect))
  6. Callahuaya (also known as Machaj-Juyai, Kallawaya, Collahuaya, Pohena, Kolyawaya jargon)
  7. Carib Pidgin (also known as Ndjuka-Amerindian Pidgin, Ndjuka-Trio)
  8. Carib Pidgin-Arawak Mixed Language
  9. Catalangu
  10. Chinook Jargon
  11. Delaware Jargon (also known as Pidgin Delaware)
  12. Eskimo Trade Jargon (also known as Herschel Island Eskimo Pidgin, Ship's Jargon)
  13. Greenlandic Eskimo Pidgin
  14. Guajiro-Spanish
  15. Güegüence-Nicarao
  16. Haida Jargon
  17. Hudson Strait Pidgin
  18. Inuktitut-English Pidgin
  19. Jargonized Powhatan
  20. Kutenai Jargon
  21. Labrador Eskimo Pidgin (also known as Labrador Inuit Pidgin)
  22. Lingua Franca Apalachee
  23. Lingua Franca Creek
  24. Lingua Geral Amazônica (also known as Nheengatú, Lingua Boa, Lingua Brasílica, Lingua Geral do Norte)
  25. Lingua Geral do Sul (also known as Lingua Geral Paulista, Tupí Austral)
  26. Loucheux Jargon (also known as Jargon Loucheux)
  27. Media Lengua
  28. Mednyj Aleut (also known as Copper Island Aleut, Medniy Aleut, CIA)
  29. Michif (also known as French Cree, Métis, Metchif, Mitchif, Métchif)
  30. Mobilian Jargon (also known as Mobilian Trade Jargon, Chickasaw-Chocaw Trade Language, Yamá)
  31. Montagnais Pidgin Basque (also known as Pidgin Basque-Montagnais)
  32. Nootka Jargon
  33. Ocaneechi
  34. Pidgin Massachusett
  35. Plains Indian Sign Language

Unattested languages

Several languages are only known by mention in historical documents or from only a few names or words. It cannot be determined that these languages actually existed or that the few recorded words are actually of known or unknown languages. Some may simply be from a historian's errors. Others are of known people with no linguistic record (sometimes due to lost records). A short list is below.

Loukotka (1968) reports the names of hundreds of South American languages which do not have any linguistic documentation.

Linguistic areas

The languages of the Americas often can be grouped together into linguistic areas or Sprachbunds (also known as convergence areas). The linguistic areas identified so far deserve more research to determine their validity. Knowing about Sprachbunds help historical linguists differentiate between shared areal traits and true genetic relationship. The pioneering work on American areal linguistics was a dissertation by Joel Sherzer which was published as Sherzer (1976). The following tentative list of linguistic areas is based on primarily Campbell (1997):

  • Northern Northwest Coast
  • Northwest Coast
  • Plateau
  • Northern California
  • Clear Lake
  • South Coast Range
  • Southern California-Western Arizona
  • Great Basin
  • Pueblo
  • Plains
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Mesoamerican
  • Colombian-Central American
  • Venezuelan-Antillean
  • Andean
    • Ecuadoran-Colombian (subarea)
  • Orinoco-Amazon
  • Amazonas (also known as Amazonia)
  • Lowland South America
  • Southern Cone


  1. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  2. ^ If the Caucasus is considered to be a part of Europe, Northwest Caucasian and Northeast Caucasian would be included resulting in 5 language families within Europe. Other language families, such as the Turkic family have entered Europe in later migrations.
  3. ^ Ruhlen, Merritt. (1991 [1987]). A Guide to the World's Languages Volume 1: Classification, p.216. Edward Arnold. Paperback: ISBN 0-340-56186-6.

See also


  • Bright, William. (1984). The classification of North American and Meso-American Indian languages. In W. Bright (Ed.), American Indian linguistics and literature (pp. 3-29). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Bright, William (Ed.). (1984). American Indian linguistics and literature. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-009846-6.
  • Brinton, Daniel G. (1891). The American race. New York: D. C. Hodges.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne (Eds.). (1979). The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:

South America

  • Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge 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.
  • Key, Mary R. (1979). The grouping of South American languages. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
  • Loukotka, Čestmír. (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: Latin American Studies Center, University of California.
  • Mason, J. Alden. (1950). The languages of South America. In J. Steward (Ed.), Handbook of South American Indians (Vol. 6, pp. 157-317). Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin (No. 143). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
  • Migliazza, Ernest C.; & Campbell, Lyle. (1988). Panorama general de las lenguas indígenas en América. Historia general de América (Vol. 10). Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia.
  • Rodrigues, Aryon. (1986). Linguas brasileiras: Para o conhecimento das linguas indígenas. São Paulo: Edições Loyola.
  • Rowe, John H. (1954). Linguistics classification problems in South America. In M. B. Emeneau (Ed.), Papers from the symposium on American Indian linguistics (pp. 10-26). University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 10). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Sapir, Edward. (1929). Central and North American languages. In The encyclopædia britannica: A new survey of universal knowledge (14 ed.) (Vol. 5, pp. 138-141). London: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, Ltd.
  • Voegelin, Carl F.; & Voegelin, Florence M. (1977). Classification and index of the world's languages. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 0-444-00155-7.

North America

  • Boas, Franz. (1911). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 1). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology).
  • Boas, Franz. (1922). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 2). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology).
  • Boas, Franz. (1929). Classification of American Indian languages. Language, 5, 1-7.
  • Boas, Franz. (1933). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 3). Native American legal materials collection, title 1227. Glückstadt: J.J. Augustin.
  • Bright, William. (1973). North American Indian language contact. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Linguistics in North America (part 1, pp. 713-726). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton.
  • Goddard, Ives (Ed.). (1996). Languages. Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1999). Native languages and language families of North America (rev. and enlarged ed. with additions and corrections). [Map]. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (Smithsonian Institution). (Updated version of the map in Goddard 1996). ISBN 0-8032-9271-6.
  • Goddard, Ives. (2005). The indigenous languages of the southeast. Anthropological Linguistics, 47 (1), 1-60.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1990). Studies of North American Indian Languages. Annual Review of Anthropology, 19(1): 309-330.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Powell, John W. (1891). Indian linguistic families of America north of Mexico. Seventh annual report, Bureau of American Ethnology (pp. 1-142). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. (Reprinted in P. Holder (Ed.), 1966, Introduction to Handbook of American Indian languages by Franz Boas and Indian linguistic families of America, north of Mexico, by J. W. Powell, Lincoln: University of Nebraska).
  • Powell, John W. (1915). Linguistic families of American Indians north of Mexico by J. W. Powell, revised by members of the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology. (Map). Bureau of American Ethnology miscellaneous publication (No. 11). Baltimore: Hoen.
  • Sebeok, Thomas A. (Ed.). (1973). Linguistics in North America (parts 1 & 2). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton. (Reprinted as Sebeok 1976).
  • Sebeok, Thomas A. (Ed.). (1976). Native languages of the Americas. New York: Plenum.
  • Sherzer, Joel. (1973). Areal linguistics in North America. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Linguistics in North America (part 2, pp. 749-795). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton. (Reprinted in Sebeok 1976).
  • Sherzer, Joel. (1976). An areal-typological study of American Indian languages north of Mexico. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • Sletcher, Michael, ‘North American Indians’, in Will Kaufman and Heidi Macpherson, eds., Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, (2 vols., Oxford, 2005).
  • Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). (1978-present). Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 1-20). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. (Vols. 1-3, 16, 18-20 not yet published).
  • Vaas, Rüdiger: ‘Die Sprachen der Ureinwohner’. In: Stoll, Günter, Vaas, Rüdiger: Spurensuche im Indianerland. Hirzel. Stuttgart 2001, chapter 7.
  • Voegelin, Carl F.; & Voegelin, Florence M. (1965). Classification of American Indian languages. Languages of the world, Native American fasc. 2, sec. 1.6). Anthropological Linguistics, 7 (7): 121-150.
  • Zededa, Ofelia; Hill, Jane H. (1991). The condition of Native American Languages in the United States. In R. H. Robins & E. M. Uhlenbeck (Eds.), Endangered languages (pp. 135-155). Oxford: Berg.

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