Behind the Mexican Mountains: Recent Developments and New Directions in Research on Uto-Aztecan Languages
Featuring considerable diversity and one of the oldest and richest traditions of historical and descriptive research in the Americas, Uto-Aztecan languages have played an important role in the development of general methods in linguistic classification and reconstruction and the development of typological and theoretical research. However, despite being one of the best-studied language families in the Americas, there are still important gaps in our knowledge about these languages. The goal of this paper is twofold: (i) to survey some recent developments in the study of Uto-Aztecan languages, and (ii) to outline some of the gaps in our knowledge and where new research on these languages is headed. This paper focuses on the Uto-Aztecan languages of Northern Mexico: although these languages have received growing attention in recent years, they remain largely under-described. And while they are still spoken by large and vibrant speech communities, the languages of this area are increasingly vulnerable to the escalating pressures imposed by the Spanish speaking population, making the task of carrying out deep and comprehensive language documentation both still possible and urgent. This paper argues that deepening our understanding of Uto-Aztecan languages, especially those of Northern Mexico, will not only positively contribute to community-based efforts of language maintenance, it will also provide crucial keys to linguistic typology, developing linguistic theories, as well as the reconstruction of the linguistic and cultural past of the Americas.