Vocabulary Yaqui

The vocabulary contains 1609 meaning-word pairs ("entries") corresponding to core LWT meanings from the recipient language Yaqui. The corresponding text chapter was published in the book Loanwords in the World's Languages. The language page Yaqui contains a list of all loanwords arranged by donor languoid.

Word form LWT code Meaning Core list Borrowed status Source words

Field descriptions


The vocabulary includes words which are rarely used, most of them words used in two kinds of situations: (i) when a speaker of Yaqui is talking with a non-Yaqui speaker who understands Yaqui, or (ii) when somebody, outside of a Yaqui community, is speaking about topics that are concerned with external situations, i.e. discussions about politics, sports, mode, health, US products. Words used at school are also considered.

All words are provided in the practical orthography defined by the Yaqui teachers in charge of the Bilingual program.

There are very few cases where more than one word is listed in this field. Those cases include alternative spellings of the same word, e.g.: lios ~ dios ‘God’, eewi ~ jeewi ‘yes’.

Comment on word form

A comment with information about the actual or context use of each loanword among the Yaqui is provided in this field. Seven distinct comments have been defined as well as the “No information.” The description of the distinct contexts of use labels provided for loanwords is provided below:

Common in Yaqui usage: Most Yaqui speakers would use loanwords included within this contact situation. Many of them have been documented among distinct oral and written language materials.

Commonly used by Men: Specialized loanwords most of them related to different trades, some of them: agriculture, construction or bricklayers or blacksmith’s trade, e.g. biiga ‘rafter, suuko ‘furrow’.

Formal use: Loanwords which emerge dealing with government, administrative, health discussions.

Formal use at schools: Loanwords used at schools are described as pertaining to this contact situation, e.g. auritoorio ‘meeting house’, chimenea ‘chimney’, kancha ‘court’, kontinente ‘mainland, ‘continent’, wolpo ‘gulf’. Such loanwords are not colloquial neither used on a daily basis.

No information: This criterion is provided when is hard to describe the exact contact situation where the loanword is used, even though consultants recognize the loanword but it is hard to define their contact situation, e.g. maayam boosam ‘the netbag’.

Used in highly bilingual contexts: Loanwords which probably emerge when the Yaqui are making a specifc reference in a conversation with a non-Yaqui speaker or with somebody who understands Yaqui but is not from this ethnic group, e.g. ejkulpiroa ‘esculpir’, piino ‘the pine’, piipa ‘pipe’, sittriko ‘citrus’, sorwo ‘the millet’, ‘the sorghum’. Commonly occurrs when Yaqui are dealing with topics not related to their daily life and most of the time are due to the discussion of newspapers in Spanish or topics from TV, etc. They well could be taken as instances of code-switching.

Used outside the Yaqui communities: Almost the same as the last criterion, but deals with words which would occur when the Yaqui are outside their communities, being at the hospital or visiting some city or town outside their communities.

Used outside the Yaqui communities and probably used only by women: Loanwords used by women when they are doing some shopping outside their communities. In daily language use, such loanwords are hardly used, e.g. liino ‘flax’, piltro ‘felt’, seeda ‘silk’.



This is chosen when no analysis is possible in Yaqui, that is, when no meaning may be provided for any part or morpheme of the word. Loanwords are usually marked as unanalyzable, since most of them come from Spanish and they are not morphologically analyzable in Yaqui.


Words marked as semi-analyzable when at least a part or morpheme is recognized as grammatical. Verbal loanwords with the Nahuatl suffix -oa are marked as semi-analyzable since the suffix is no longer productive.

Analyzable derived

Words derived by affixation or reduplication.

Analyzable compound

Words which are the result of the combination of more than one modified or derived root.

Analyzable phrasal

This is a rich mechanism in Yaqui, as notional values or lexical items from other cultures can be referenced in the language by means of a phrase.


Age refers only to the form of the word. The age category was sometimes arbitrary, since Yaqui is a language with no tradition in writing, the documentation of the language is scarce. All documented loanwords entered to Yaqui via Spanish, and probably a handful entered directly from Nahuatl. Based on the historical documentation of Yaqui, there are only two important historical periods to trace the loanwords:

a. Old (colonial age)
b. Modern

The Old colonial age value is applied with cultural objects introduced to the New World by the Spaniards; the criterion is mainly applied when the phonological adaptation of loanwords is evident, that is, it involves more than one phonological change, or there is also evidence of phonological traces of Spanish old phonemes. Very few lexical items has been traced within the linguistic material written by Thomas Basilio’s Arte de la lengua cahita (Buelna 1890); although this grammar deals with Tehueco, a different dialect. Thus, loanwords like kaba’i ‘horse’ < Spanish caballo, are considered old, as well saweeam ‘breeches’ < Spanish ‘zaraguelles’, moina ‘mill’ < Spanish molino, where the /l/ phoneme is elided and the final vowel /o/ changes into /a/; or saabum ‘soap’ < Spanish xabon, where the Spanish letter was still a palatal fricative /sh/ and not yet the modern velar fricative /x/.

The Modern value is assigned when loanwords reflect almost no phonological change or are used to name a modern referent, e.g. radio, bank.

For Yaqui words, five categories for ‘Age’ have been chosen. The application of such criteria is sometimes arbitrary, because it is sometimes difficult to trace the history of words in non-written languages:

a. Proto-Uto-Aztecan
b. Proto-Sonoran
c. Proto-Tara-Cahitan
d. Proto-Cahitan
e. Modern

The Proto-Uto-Aztecan age has been applied to words which are recognized to have a cognate among the Uto-Aztecan cognate sets (Miller 1967, Voegelin, Voegelin and Hale 1962). The Proto-Sonoran age is applied to those words which share a root at least in one Tepiman language (Bascom 1965 and my own knowledge and field notes from Pima Bajo), and in at least one Tara-Cahitan language, Tarahumara (Hilton 1959, Brambila 1980), Yaqui (Estrada et al. 2004, Johnson 1962) or Mayo (Collard and Collard 1984). The Proto-Tara-Cahitan age is applied when no Tepiman counterpart has been identified. The Proto-Cahitan age is applied to those words for which no Tepiman correlated root has been identified within the language material in Bascom (1965), and Estrada’s Pima Bajo dictionary in preparation or in other Taracahitan language – Estrada et al. (2004), Molina et al. (1999), Johnson (1962), and Collard and Collard (1984). The last category, Modern, is assigned to words which are phrasal and compound words, e.g. su’utojiwame ‘to divorce’, or jujupwame ‘the wedding’, or motcho’okol ‘chamaleon’, as well as those which occur only in Yaqui: e.g. momoi ‘ripe’, bikala ‘rotten’, or u’ukte ‘to choke’, and words which look like neologisms or new creations: e.g. jiawai ‘music’, bebeje’eri ‘demon’, yoojoara ‘hell’.

No information is assigned to words not borrowed from Spanish, but from Nahuatl or Taino, where there is no secure way to establish their source.


Criteria used to determine the degree of certainty are the following:

0. No evidence about borrowing
Words which are considered as Yaqui, as well as those which seem to be originated in Yaqui as a result of a previous loanword, e.g. ili jamut ‘girl’, kaba’i jamut ‘mare’ are marked with this criterion.

1. Very little evidence for borrowing
Words which, according to their phonological and morphological forms, pertain indisputably to Yaqui are marked within this criterion.

2. Perhaps borrowed.
No word occurs marked within this criterion. The reason is that almost all loanwords are clear about their source.

3. Probably borrowed.
No word occurs marked within this criterion. The reason is that almost all loanwords are clear about their source.

4. Clearly borrowed.
Word with a clear equivalent or counterpart in Spanish or which have been recognized as proceeding from Nahuatl, Taino, Quechua, Hispanic Arabic, or English are characterized with this criterion.


Only one or two references are provided for most loanwords. The reason is that many loanwords are not documented in a dictionary but in different unpublished materials, such as field work notes, documented for the study of this language. Most of them have been obtained from native speakers which have collaborated in preparing distinct descriptive works about Yaqui. Three of these speakers are: Crescencio Buitimea Valenzuela, Melquiades Bejípone Cruz and Anabela Carlón Flores.

References used in the database.
Estrada Fernández, Zarina, Crescencio Buitimea Valenzuela, Adriana Elizabeth
Gurrola Camacho, María Elena Castillo Celaya y Anabela Carlón Flores.
2004. Diccionario yaqui-español. Obra de preservación lingüística.
México: Editorial Plaza y Valdés/Universidad de Sonora.

Johnson, Jean Bassett. 1943. “A clear case of linguistic acculturation.”
American Anthropologist. Vol. 43, No. 3, Part 1:427-434.

Karttunen, Frances and James Lockhart. 1976. Nahuatl in the middle years. Language contact phenomena in texts of the colonial period. Berkeley:
University of California Publications. Linguistics. 85.

Miller, Wick R. 1967. Uto-Aztecan cognate sets. Berkeley – Los Angeles:
University of California Press.

Molina, Alonso de, Fray. 1977. Vocabulario en lengua castellana y mexicana y mexicana y castellana. México: Editorial Porrúa, S. A.

Molina, Felipe S., Herminia Valenzuela and David Leedom Shaul. 1999. Hippocrene Standard Dictionary Yoeme-English English-Yoeme. With a comprehensive grammar of Yoeme language. New York: Hippocrene books.

References used in the annotations:

Bascom, Jr., Burton William. 1965. Proto-Tepiman (Tepehuan-Piman). Ph.D.
Dissertation. University of Washington.
Brambila, David. 1980. Diccionario rarámuri-castellano. México: Buena Prensa.
Buelna, Eustaquio. 1989 [1890]. Arte de la lengua cahita por un padre de la
Compañía de Jesús. México: Siglo XXI Editores.
Collard, Howard and Collard Elizabeth Scout. 1984. Castellano-Mayo. Mayo-
Castellano. México: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
Hilton, K. Simón. 1959. Diccionario tarahumara de Samachique, Chihuahua,
México. Tucson: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
Voegelin, C.F., Voegelin, F.M. and Kenneth L. Hale. 1962. “Typological and
comparative grammar of Uto-Aztecan: I (Phonology).” Supplement to
Internacional Journal of American Linguistics. Vol. 28, No. 1. Indiana
University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics. Memoir 17.


ADJVZ adjectivizer
AGVZ agentivizer
COL collective
DIM diminutive
DIR directional
IMPRS impersonal
INT intensifier
IT iterative
LIG ligature (sound or syllable which is added to connect morphemes)
MOD modal
POT potential
PRIV privative
RDP reduplication
SUB subordinator
VBLZ verbalizer