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Otomanguean historical linguistics: Past, present, and prospects for the future

Campbell, Eric W.

Among the linguistic lineages of Mesoamerica, the Otomanguean family is the most diverse and most widely spread. Long occupying a central position in one of the cradles of human civilization, speakers of Otomanguean languages have played important roles in the region, about which their languages have much to tell. However, Otomanguean is perhaps the least understood of the major Mesoamerican language families, due to its great diversity, the remarkable structural complexity of Otomanguean languages, and the history of the field of Otomanguean historical linguistics, which has seen great achievement alternating with periodic controversy and doubt. With a focus on the higher levels and more ancient time depths of the family, this article surveys Otomanguean historical linguistic work and presents a state of the art perspective on Otomanguean classification, reconstruction, linguistic prehistory, remaining challenges, and prospects for the future.
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