Scholars argue that western Honduras was occupied by Ch’orti’ speakers in the sixteenth century. These reconstructions conform to nationalist pressures to present Honduras as Maya, by using Classic period (AD 200–900) archaeological remains together with sparsely available sixteenth-century documentation. Drawing on existing and newly discovered sources, this article uses an onomastic approach to interpret glossonyms (language names), anthroponyms (personal names), and toponyms (place-names) in order to reconstruct past linguistic territories. The results of the analysis suggest greater Lenca- and Pipil- and smaller Ch’orti’-speaking populations than once thought, and emphasize the multilinguistic and frontier nature of societies in western Honduras. This study also highlights the viability of onomastic approaches in reconstructing linguistic boundaries when source documents provide either vague or contradictory information about languages spoken.

You do not currently have access to this content.