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Tarascan is a word designating an indigenous ethnic group of Mexico and the language that they speak. The term is gradually becoming obsolete instead being replaced by the ethnic group's own name for themselves: P'urhépecha (or P'orhépecha) for both the people and the language. However the historical P'urhepecha built a state which is normally referred to as the Tarascan state because that is the way it appears in the early colonial sources.

The name "Tarascan" (and its Spanish-language equivalent, "tarasco") comes from the word "tarascue" in their own language, which means indistinctly "father-in-law" or "son-in-law". The Spanish took it as their name, for reasons that have been attributed to different, mostly legendary, stories. Curiously the Nahuatl name for the Tarascans was "Michhuàquê" ("those who have fish"), from whence comes the name of the state of Michoacán.


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