Comecrudan Language

Comecrudan Language Family

Comecrudan refers to a group of possibly related languages spoken in the southernmost part of Texas and in northern Mexico along the Rio Grande.

Very little is known about these languages or the people that spoke them. Knowledge of them primarily consists of word lists collected by European missionaries and explorers. All Comecrudan languages are now extinct.

The name Comecrudo is derived from Spanish meaning ‘eat-raw’. Carrizo is from Spanish meaning ‘red’.

Garza is from Spanish meaning ‘heron, crane’. Comecrudo, the most well-known, was the name a language recorded (a list of 148 words) in 1829 by French botanist Jean Louis Berlandier (Berlandier called it “Mulato”) (Berlandier et al. 1828-1829).

It was spoken on the lower Rio Grande near Reynosa, Tamaulipas in Mexico. Much earlier, some Comecrudo tribal names were recorded in 1748 (Saldivar 1943).

Tribal names:


Perpepug Atanaguaypacam / Atanaouajapaca

Later in 1861, German Adolph published a travelogue with some vocabulary (he called the language “Carrizo”) (Adolph 1961: 185-186). In 1886, Albert Gatschet recorded vocabulary, sentences, and a text from the descendants (who were not fluent) of the last Comecrudo speakers near Camargo, Tamaulipas at Las Prietas? (Swanton 1940: 55-118).

The best of these consultants were Emiterio, Joaquin, and Andrade. Garza is known from 2 tribal names and 21 words recorded from the chief of the Garza by Berlandier in 1828 (Berlandier et al. 1828-1829, 1850: 143-144).

At this time the Garza all spoke Spanish and were acculturated. The Garza may be the same as the Atanguaypacam tribe (of the Comecrudo) recorded in 1748.

The Garza were called something like “Meacknan” or “Mi?n” by the neighboring Cotoname? Native Americans (Gatschet 1886: 54) while they called the Cotoname “Yu?

Mamulique (called “Carrizo” by Berlandier) was recorded in a 22-word vocabulary (in two versions) from Native Americans near Mamulique, by Berlandier in 1828 (Berlandier et al. 1828-1829, 1850: 68-71).

These speakers were a group of about 45 families that were all Spanish-speaking Christians.

Genetic relationships

In John Wesley Powell’s 1891 classification of North American languages, Comecrudo was grouped together with the Cotoname? and the Coahuilteco languages into a family called Coahuiltecan.

John R. Swanton (1915) grouped together the Comecrudo, Cotoname?, Coahuilteco, Karankawa, Tonkawa, Atakapa, and Maratino? languages into a Coahuiltecan grouping.

Edward Sapir (1920) accepted Swanton’s proposal and grouped this hypothetical Coahuiltecan into his hypothetical Hokan stock.

After these proposals, the Garza and Mamulique languages were discovered. It is now thought that the Comecrudan languages are not related to any of the above.

Goddard (1979) believes that there is sufficent similarity between Comecrudan, Garza, and Mamulique to consider them part of the same family.

Comecrudan Language Families

7. Comecrudan

Comecrudo (a.k.a. Mulato or Carrizo)


Mamulique (a.k.a. Carrizo de Mamulique)