|Region||Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico|
Pochutec is an extinct Uto-Aztecan language of the Nahuan (or Aztecan) branch which was spoken in and around the town of Pochutla on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. In 1917 it was documented in a monograph by Franz Boas, who considered the language nearly extinct. In the 1970s another investigator found two speakers around Pochutla who still remembered a few of the words recorded by Boas.
In the early 20th century, scholars disagreed as to the origin of the language within the Nahuan family. Most thought Pochutec was distinct from Nahuatl, and this was proven in 1978, when Campbell and Langacker gave new arguments from Boas' data. Their conclusion was quickly accepted. Nahuan thus consists of Pochutec and General Aztec, which consists of Nahuatl and Pipil.
Bartholomew (1980) suggests that some of the divergent traits, for example last syllable stress, are due to influence from Chatino, an Oto-Manguean language. She argues that at the time of the 16th century Spanish conquest of Mexico the settlement of Pochutla did not fall under the Aztec Empire's domain, but instead was part of the Mixtec state centered at Tututepec. Thus, the Chatino linguistic influences stemmed from the trade and communication routes between Pochutla and Tututepec passing through Chatino territory.
Dakin (1983) argues that the key correspondence sets used by Campbell and Langacker as evidence for the existence of a separate fifth vowel *ï evolving from pUA *u, their main basis for separating Pochutec from their "General Aztec", were actually later developments within Pochutec by which proto-Aztec *i and *e > o in closed syllables, and that the supposed contrast in final position in imperatives originally had had a following clitic. In a later article, Canger and Dakin (1985) identify a different, very systematic isogloss for the development of pUA *u that shows a basic split between Eastern Nahuatl dialects and the Central and Western periphery, including Pochutec, as exemplified in at least eight different cognate sets. This proposal is incompatible with Campbell and Langacker's proposal for the development of pUA *u. Dakin thus classifies Pochutec as belonging to the Western branch of the Nahuan languages, rather than having split off from Nahuan before the basic East-West split.
IJAL = International Journal of American Linguistics
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