Reconstructive Description of Eighteenth-century Xinka Grammar
This dissertation presents a comprehensive description of Xinka, an indigenous language from southeastern Guatemala. The description is based on a missionary grammar that is titled Arte de la lengua szinca and was written by the priest Manuel Maldonado de Matos around 1773.
- Frouke Sachse
- 15 June 2010
- Published by LOT
- Full text in Leiden University Repository
Xinka is an isolate language family that has no other relatives. It included several closely related languages and is today mostly extinct. Xinka has never been grammatically described.
The Arte de la lengua szinca is the earliest and most comprehensive source on Xinka grammar. It is a typical colonial grammar that employs a Latin model of grammatical description. To define the typological properties of Xinka, the colonial data were compared with other Xinka language materials. The author documented primary language data with the last Xinka-speakers in the village of Guazacapán, Santa Rosa, Guatemala between 2000-03. These last speakers have however only preserved a fragmentary knowledge of the language.
Word lists and grammatical sketches of Xinkan languages from several towns in Santa Rosa and Jutiapa were also included into the analysis. From these different sets of data, this dissertation reconstructs the grammar of colonial Xinka. The dissertation also includes information about the cultural context of the language and its speakers.