Family: Lengua

Comments on subclassification

Unruh, Ernesto and Kalisch, Hannes 2003 Gysel, Jens Van 2017: 53-69 Gysel, Jens Van 2018

AES status:
Campbell, Lyle and Lee, Nala Huiying and Okura, Eve and Simpson, Sean and Ueki, Kaori 2022
Enxet (5166-leg) = Threatened (20 percent certain, based on the evidence available)

Retired in ISO 639-3: Split into Enlhet [enl] and Enxet [enx]

  • Change request: 2013-014
  • ISO 639-3: leg
  • Name: Lengua
  • Reason: split
  • Effective: 2014-02-03

Excerpt from change request document:

The Enxet were first contacted in 1989 by Anglican missionaries from Concepción; the Enlhet in 1927 by Mennonite immigrants from Puerto Casado (today Puerto La Victoria). Both of these groups, of European origin, referred to the indigenous of the interior of the Chaco as 'Lengua', even before having met them. This coincidence of names has led to the two ethnic groups being considered as a single one. In view of the linguistic differences between them, it has been proposed that two dialects, Lengua Sur [Southern Lengua] and Lengua Norte [Northern Lengua] should be distinguished. This proposal, which is not based on linguistic criteria, has been put forward even in the most recent attempts at classification (Campbell & Grondona), without comparative research being carried out in the field (see the extensive bibliography in Fabre (2005/2012)). However, on the basis of their linguistic research into the six languages of the Enlhet-Enenlhet family, Unruh & Kalisch (2003) have proposed that they should be seen as two different languages, since the Enlhet and Enxet languages are not mutually intelligible, and clearly distinct ethnolinguistic identities exist. An indicator of this is the fact that there is a considerable number of people who are bilingual Enlhet-Enxet.

At the same time, it is not possible to understand one of the languages as a dialect of the other; that is, the existing code does not represent a 'major language'. From the perspective of the whole family, the Enlhet and Enxet languages are of equal standing in relation to each other and to the other languages of the family.

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