Xinca language
The Xinca language is a Mesoamerican language
Mesoamerican languages
Mesoamerican languages are the languages indigenous to the Mesoamerican cultural area, which covers southern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. The area is characterized by extensive linguistic diversity containing several hundred different languages and...

 spoken by the indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 Xinca people
Xinca people
The Xinca are a non-Mayan indigenous people of Mesoamerica, with communities in the southern portion of Guatemala, near its border with El Salvador, and in the mountainous region to the north....

 from communities in the southern portion of Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, near its border with El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 and in the mountainous region to the north. The language is generally classed as a language isolate
Language isolate
A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical relationship with other languages; that is, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language. They are in effect language families consisting of a single...

 with no demonstrated affiliations with other language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

, although a relationship with Lenca
Lenca language
The Lenca language is one of the indigenous Mesoamerican languages. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Central America in the early 16th century, it was spoken by the Lenca people in a region that incorporates northwestern and southwestern Honduras, and neighboring eastern El Salvador, east of...

 has been proposed.


In the 16th century the territory of the Xinca extended from the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 coast to the mountains of Jalapa
Jalapa (department)
Jalapa is a department of Guatemala, in the south east-of the republic. The capital is the city of Jalapa.In 2000 the department of Jalapa had an estimated population of 390,500. The majority is ladino, of predominantly European descent, with sizable minorities of K'iche' and Poqomam Maya...

. In 1524 the population was conquered by the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. Many of the people were forced into slavery and compelled to participate in the conquest of modern-day El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

. It is from this that the names for the town, river, and bridge "Los Esclavos" (The Slaves) are derived in the area of Cuilapa
Cuilapa, also known as Santa Rosa Cuilapa, is a town in Guatemala. It serves as the capital of the department of Santa Rosa and as the administrative seat for the surrounding municipality of Cuilapa.Cuilapa marks the midpoint of the American Continent....

, Santa Rosa.

After 1575, the process of Xinca cultural extinction accelerated, mainly due to their exportation to other regions. This also contributed to a decrease in the number of Xinca-language speakers. One of the oldest references concerning this language was presented by the archbishop Pedro Cortés y Larraz during a visit to the diocese of Taxisco
Taxisco is a municipality in the Santa Rosa department of Guatemala. It is located near the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.Taxisco was the birthplace of Juan José Arévalo, who served as President of the Republic from 1945 to 1951....

 in 1769.

Contemporary situation

Presently Xinca, one of the very few known indigenous languages
Indigenous languages of the Americas
Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language...

 of Guatemala not believed to be part of the family of Mayan languages
Mayan languages
The Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras...

, has nearly disappeared, since it is now spoken by only 250 people (approximately). According to recent studies, it is spoken in seven municipalities and a village in Santa Rosa and Jutiapa
Jutiapa is a municipality in the Jutiapa department of Guatemala. Located 124 km from the city of Guatemala at an altitude of 892 m , it is the capital of the department of Jutiapa....

. In 1991 it was reported that the language had only 25 speakers, but in 1997 another figure was proposed: 297. Ethnologue has reported it extinct since 2000. The official census of 2002 mentions that of 16,214 Xinka people, there were 1,283 Xinka speakers.
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