How the map was made |

How the map was made

Not much is known about the languages in the Totonacan family and the relationships among them. This map follows the classification that appears in the Catálogo de las Lenguas Indígenas Nacionales, the official list of Mexican indigenous languages published by the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas (INALI). Click here for our classification of the language family.

The first step was to isolate the entries in the 2010 census that correspond to the communities where a Totonacan language is spoken. Unfortunately, the census does not specify which language(s) is spoken in a given community; it only notes whether any indigenous language is spoken there. Therefore, we used the list of Totonacan communities given in the Catálogo, with the understanding that the Totonacan language may not be the sole indigenous language spoken there, nor even the dominant indigenous language, and that the figures given reflect speakers of any indigenous language, not just Totonacan ones.

We first tried to match the two datasets automatically with a Python script, using the state, municipality, and community names. This process yielded two categories of mismatches: i) communities with no matches in the census (n=169), and ii) communities that matched to multiple entries in the census (n=101). These communities were examined individually.

For the communities with no matches, we were able to resolve 166 of the 169 discrepancies by looking up the community name on the Internet and by examining previous censuses. The problem usually arose either from a discrepancy in the spelling of the community name, a discrepancy in the municipality to which the community belonged, or from the community no longer being listed in the 2010 census, although it was present in an earlier census (2000 or 2005). The remaining three communities were wrongly attributed to Cerro Xinolatépetl Totonac, as confirmed by Gerry Andersen who studies the language.

For the communities that matched to multiple entries in the census, we took the geographic coordinates for each entry and entered them on Google Maps. We also did an Internet search of the community name to find further information (if any). In some cases, the coordinates mapped to different parts of the same general inhabited area, that is, each entry represented a different zone of the same community. In other cases, the coordinates were not in close proximity, suggesting that there were multiple communities with the same name in the same municipality. In several cases, one set of coordinates mapped to a cluster of buildings, while the other set did not reveal anything visible on Google Maps; in these cases, we kept the former entry and deleted the latter. Of the 101 communities with multiple matches, we were able to find a match in the census for all except three, which were deleted.

A total of 1,562 communities are represented on the map (see below for a breakdown by language). Of these, 214 have no data recorded in the 2010 census because they contain fewer than three households. There are 177 discrepancies between our list and the Catálogo de las Lenguas Indígenas Nacionales. These discrepancies consist of: i) communities that are listed in the Catálogo but have no corresponding entry in the 2010 census; ii) communities that appear with a different name or a different municipality in the Catálogo; iii) communities that we were unable to find a match for in any census from 1990 to 2010; and iv) communities that matched to multiple entries in the census.

Language Number of communities Communities with no data Discrepancies with Catálogo
Pisaflores Tepehua 24 2 2
Tlachichilco Tepehua 27 3 3
Huehuetla Tepehua 41 5 0
Filomeno Mata Totonac 9 0 1
Northern Totonac 323 42 46
Sierra Totonac 334 26 17
Lowland Totonac 731 134 104
Cerro Xinolatépetl Totonac 3 0 3
Upper Necaxa Totonac 7 0 0
Misantla Totonac 63 2 1
Total 1,562 214 177

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