The Info List - Chinookan

The Chinookan languages
Chinookan languages
were a small family of languages spoken in Oregon
and Washington along the Columbia River
Columbia River
by Chinook peoples. All are now extinct, although Upper Chinook had 270 self-identified speakers in 2009-2013.[2]


1 Family division 2 Phonology 3 Morphology 4 Gender/number/person 5 Sociolinguistics 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 Further reading 9 External links

Family division[edit] Chinookan consisted of three languages with multiple varieties. There is some dispute over classification, and there are two ISO 639-3 codes assigned: chh (Chinook, Lower Chinook) and wac (Wasco-Wishram, Upper Chinook). For example, Ethnologue 15e classifies Kiksht as Lower Chinook, while others consider it instead Upper Chinook (discussion), and others a separate language.

Lower Chinook (also known as Chinook-proper or Coastal Chinook) † Kathlamet (also known as Katlamat, Cathlamet) † Upper Chinook (also known as Kiksht, Columbia Chinook) †

Upper Chinook is undergoing a revival, with 270 self-professed speakers.[2] Phonology[edit]

Consonants in the Chinookan languages

Bilabial Alveolar Post- alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal

central lateral nor. lab. nor. lab.

Stop plain p t

k kʷ q qʷ ʔ

ejective pʼ tʼ

kʼ kʼʷ qʼ qʼʷ

voiced b d

ɡ ɡʷ

Affricate plain

ts tɬ tʃ


tsʼ tɬʼ tʃʼ

Fricative plain

s ɬ ʃ

x xʷ χ χʷ h


ɣ ɣʷ

Nasal m n

Approximant w



The vowels in the Chinookan languages
Chinookan languages
are /a i ɛ ə u/ as followed. Stress is marked as /á/. Morphology[edit] As in many North American Languages, verbs constitute complete clauses in themselves. Nominal may accompany the verbs, but they have adjunct status, functioning as appositives to the pronominal affixes. Word order functions purely pragmatically; constituents appear in decreasing order of newsworthiness. Clauses are combined by juxtaposition or particles, rather than subordinating inflection. Verbs contain an initial tense or aspect prefix, ergative pronominal prefix, obligatory assaultive prefixed, dative prefix, reflexive/reciprocal/middle, adverbial, directional, and verb stem. The number of tense/aspect prefix distinctions varies among the languages. Kiksht shows six way tense distinctions: mythic past, remote past, recent past, immediate past, present, and future. The pronominal prefixes are obligatory, whether free nominals occur in the clause-or not. Three can be seen in the Kathlamet verb. The ergative refers to agent of a transitive verb, the absolutive to patient of a transitive or single argument of an intransitive, the dative to indirect object. Reflexive prefixes can serve as reciprocals and as medio-passives. When the reflexive follows can ergative-absolutive pronoun sequence, it indicates that one indirectly affected is the same as the ergative. When it follows an absolutive –dative pronoun sequence, it indicates that one indirectly affected is associated with the absolutive, perhaps as the whole in a part-whole relationship, or the owner. Verbs stems may be simplex or compound, the second member indicating direction, including motion out of, from open to cover especially from water to shore or inland, from cover to open, especially toward water, into, down or up. Suffixes include repetitive, causatives, an involuntary passive, completive, stative, purposive, future, usitative, successful completive and so on. Nouns contain an initial prefix, pronominal prefix, positive prefix, inner normalizer, root, a qualifying suffix, plural, and final suffix. Initial prefix serve primarily as nominalizers. Masculine prefixes appear with nouns designating male persons, feminine with those denoting female persons. The neuter may indicate indefiniteness. All are used for nouns referring to objects as well. Masculine prefixes appear with the large animals; feminine for small ones. Masculine prefixes also appear with nouns expressing qualities. Gender/number/person[edit] The gender/number prefixes is followed by possessive pronominal prefixes of the verb. These distinguish first, inclusive, second, third, fourth (indefinite) person, dual and plural possessors. The possessive prefixes are followed by noun stem, perhaps including another nominalizer. Nominal suffixes indicate emphasis or contrast, specificity, succession in time, definiteness, plurality, and time, location, or similarity. The gender/number prefixes is followed by possessive pronominal prefixes of the verb. These distinguish first, inclusive, second, third, fourth (indefinite) person, dual and plural possessors. The possessive prefixes are followed by noun stem, perhaps including another nominalizer. Nominal suffixes indicate emphasis or contrast, specificity, succession in time, definiteness, plurality, and time, location, or similarity. 1.The possessive prefix for the third person singular feminine ("her") is –ga- when the noun itself is feminine, neuter, dual, or plural, it is preceded by the gender-number prefixes: but is-tca- when the noun itself is masculine, is preceded by the gender-number prefix:

Lower Chinook Wishram

sing.fem ʋ̄ (w)ɑ-

neut. L- ii-

du. c-,s- (ic-,is-)

2. The possessive prefix for the first person singular "my" is –gE (Wishram-g-,-k-;- x̩ -before k-stops) when the noun is feminine, neuter, dual or plural, but –tcE-,-tci-(Wishram-tc-) when the noun is masculine. 3.Aside from certain secondary irregularities in the third person dual and third person plural which don’t concern us, the pronominal subject of the transitive verb differs from the pronominal subject of the intransitive verb only in the case of the third person singular masculine and third persoonsingular feminine, the difference between the two sets of forms being for the most part indicated by position and, in part, by the use of a "postpronominal" particle-g-which indicates that the preceding pronominal element is used as the subject of a transitive verb. The phonetic parallelism would then be perfect in the three cases. If we compare the theoretical forms *ag-"she"and *itc-"he"with the remaining subjective forms of the transitive verb, we obtain at once a perfectly regular and intelligible set of forms. Including the "post-pronominal"-g-,the system is as follows:

1st pers. sing. n-

exclusive dual nt-g-

exclusive plural nc-g-

inclusive dual lx-g-

inclusive plural lx-g-

2nd pers. sing. m-

dual. mt-g-

plural. mc-g-

3d pers.sing. *i-tc-

sing.fem. *a-g-

sing.neut l-g-

dual. c-g-

plural l-g-

Compare these pronominal prefixes with the corresponding intransitive subjects and transitive objects:

1st pers. sing. n-

exclusive dual nt'-

exclusive plural nc-

exclusive dual lx-

exclusive plural lx-

2nd pers. sing. m-

dual. mt-

plural. mc-

3d pers.sing. i-

sing.fem. a-

sing.neut l-

dual. c-

plural l-

The original Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
was a simplified language, originally used as a second language by speakers of other Native American languages in the area. It has sentence-initial negation which is atypical of regional languages and doesn’t have typical complex morphology. It has SVO structure: Chinookan and Salishan are VSO, e.g., Haias olo tso naika [much hungry water I] "I’m very thirsty". However, local Athabaskan languages are SOV, so this is probably a result of contact – a cross-language compromise. Only later did Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
acquire significant English and French lexical items. Sociolinguistics[edit] There were Lower and Upper Chinookan groups, only a single variety of the latter now survives: Wasco-Wishram (Wasco and Wishram were originally two separate, similar varieties). In 1990, there were 69 speakers (7 monolinguals) of Wasco-Wishram; in 2001, 5 speakers of Wasco remained; the last fully fluent speaker, Gladys Thompson, died in 2012. Chinook-speaking groups were once powerful in trade, before and during early European contact (Lewis & Clark), hence developed the Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
– a pre-European contact language, with lexicon from at least Chinook, Chehalis, and Nootka or Nuu-chah-nulth. Chinook people
Chinook people
were quickly diminished by European diseases: Numbered around 800 persons in 1800; they mixed with Chehalis (in fact, the very word Chinook is a Chehalis word for those who lived on the south of the river). Most of the language family became extinct as separate groups by 1900, except a few hundreds who mixed with other groups. Around 120 people in 1945, though some 609 were reported in the 1970s, having by then mixed extensively with other groups. Language is now extinct. Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
also flourished from 1790s–1830s, then experienced a flood of English and French new vocabulary. It was used by up to 100,000 speakers of 100 mother tongues in the 19th century. Then declined, was recorded by linguists in the 1930s, and died out by the early 1900s. The Chinook people
Chinook people
were finally recognized by the US Govt. in Jan. 2001, but in the 90-day grace period the Quinault Tribe filed an appeal stating that the Chinook Nation made mistakes when applying for federal recognition. References[edit]

^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chinookan". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ a b "Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English". www.census.gov. US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2017-11-17. 

A Chinookan Phonetic Law E. Sapir International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Jan., 1926), pp. 105–110 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Article Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1263359 Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X. Hymes, Dell. "A Pattern of Verbal Irony in Chinookan." International Journal of the Sociology of Language 1987.65 (1987): 97-110. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. "We Should Lose Much by Their Absence": The Centrality of Chinookans and Kalapuyans to Life in Frontier Oregon
Mathias D. Bergmann Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 109, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 34–59 Published by: Oregon
Historical Society Article Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20615823 Bibliography[edit]

Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.

Further reading[edit]

Chinuk Wawa As Our Elders Teach Us to Speak It Published in 2012 by the University of Washington Press ISBN 978-0295991863 Once-dying Chinook Language Finds Future in Voices of Children Canku Ota (Many Paths) An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America Suttles, Wayne (1990). Handbook of North American Indians: Northwest Coast. Smithsonian Institution Washington. p. 533 George Gibbs, Alphabetical Vocabulary of the Chinook Language, New York : Cramoisy Press, 1863.

External links[edit]

Chinookan languages
Chinookan languages
test of at Wikimedia Incubator

Indigenous peoples of North America portal

Aaron Clark, "Tribes strive to save native tongues (Wasco tribe's Kiksht language)", Christian Science Monitor, 23 May 2008

v t e



Kathlamet Lower Chinook Upper Chinook


Klamath Molala Nez Percé Sahaptin




Central Kalapuya Northern Kalapuya Yoncalla

Coast Oregon

Alsean Coosan Siuslaw


Nomlaki Patwin Southern Patwin Wintu


Chico Konkow Maidu Nisenan


Yokutsan Utian


Coast Tsimshian Gitksan Nisga’a Southern Tsimshian

Italics indicate extinct languages

v t e

List of primary language families


Afro-Asiatic Austronesian Khoe Kx'a Niger–Congo Nilo-Saharan? Tuu Mande? Songhay? Ijaw? Ubangian? Kadu?


Bangime Hadza Jalaa Sandawe Kwadi? Laal? Shabo?

Sign languages

Arab BANZSL French Lasima Tanzanian Others

Europe and Asia

Afro-Asiatic Ainu Austroasiatic Austronesian Chukotko-Kamchatkan Dravidian Eskimo–Aleut Great Andamanese Hmong–Mien Hurro-Urartian Indo-European Japonic Kartvelian Koreanic Mongolic Northeast Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Ongan Sino-Tibetan Tai–Kadai Tungusic Turkic Tyrsenian Uralic Yeniseian Yukaghir Dené–Yeniseian? Altaic? Austronesian–Ongan? Austro-Tai? Sino-Austronesian? Digaro? Kho-Bwa? Siangic? Miji? Vasconic?


Basque Burushaski Elamite Hattic Kusunda Nihali Nivkh Sumerian Hruso? Miju? Puroik?

Sign languages

BANZSL French German Japanese Swedish Chinese Indo-Pakistani Arab Chiangmai–Bangkok Others

New Guinea and the Pacific

Arai–Samaia Arafundi Austronesian Baining Binanderean–Goilalan Border Bulaka River Central Solomons Chimbu–Wahgi Doso–Turumsa East Geelvink Bay East Strickland Eleman Engan Fas Kaure–Kosare Kiwaian Kutubuan Kwomtari Lakes Plain Lower Mamberamo Lower Sepik Madang Mairasi North Bougainville Pauwasi Piawi Ramu Senagi Sentani Sepik Skou South Bougainville Teberan Tor–Kwerba–Nimboran Torricelli Trans-Fly Trans–New Guinea Turama–Kikorian West Papuan Yam Yawa Yuat North Papuan? Northeast New Guinea? Papuan Gulf?


Abinomn Anêm? Ata? Kol Kuot Porome Taiap? Pawaia Porome Sulka? Tambora Wiru

Sign languages

Hawai'i Sign Language Others


Arnhem/Macro-Gunwinyguan Bunuban Darwin River Eastern Daly Eastern Tasmanian Garawan Iwaidjan Jarrakan Mirndi Northern Tasmanian Northeastern Tasmanian Nyulnyulan Pama–Nyungan Southern Daly Tangkic Wagaydyic Western Daly Western Tasmanian Worrorran Yangmanic (Wardaman)


Giimbiyu Malak-Malak Marrgu Tiwi Wagiman

North America

Algic Alsea Caddoan Chimakuan Chinookan Chumashan Comecrudan Coosan Eskimo–Aleut Iroquoian Kalapuyan Keresan Maiduan Muskogean Na-Dene Palaihnihan Plateau Penutian Pomoan Salishan Shastan Siouan Tanoan Tsimshianic Utian Uto-Aztecan Wakashan Wintuan Yokutsan Yukian Yuman–Cochimí Dené–Yeniseian? Hokan? Penutian?


Chimariko Haida Karuk Kutenai Seri Siuslaw Takelma Timucua Waikuri Washo Yana Yuchi Zuni

Sign languages

Inuit (Inuiuuk) Plains Sign Talk Others


Chibchan Jicaquean Lencan Mayan Misumalpan Mixe–Zoque Oto-Manguean Tequistlatecan Totonacan Uto-Aztecan Xincan Totozoquean?


Cuitlatec Huave Tarascan/Purépecha

Sign languages

Plains Sign Talk Mayan Others

South America

Arawakan Arauan Araucanian Arutani–Sape Aymaran Barbacoan Boran Borôroan Cahuapanan Cariban Catacaoan Chapacuran Charruan Chibchan Choco Chonan Guaicuruan Guajiboan Jê/Gê Harákmbut–Katukinan Jirajaran Jivaroan Kariri Katembri–Taruma Mascoian Matacoan Maxakalian Nadahup Nambikwaran Otomákoan Pano-Tacanan Peba–Yaguan Purian Quechuan Piaroa–Saliban Ticuna–Yuri Timotean Tiniguan Tucanoan Tupian Uru–Chipaya Witotoan Yabutian Yanomaman Zamucoan Zaparoan Chimuan? Esmeralda–Yaruro? Hibito–Cholón? Lule–Vilela? Macro-Jê? Tequiraca–Canichana?

Isolates (extant in 2000)

Aikanã? Alacalufan Andoque? Camsá Candoshi Chimane Chiquitano Cofán? Fulniô Guató Hodï/Joti Irantxe? Itonama Karajá Krenak Kunza Leco Maku-Auari of Roraima Movima Mura-Pirahã Nukak? Ofayé Puinave Huaorani/Waorani Trumai Urarina Warao Yamana Yuracaré

See also

Language isolates Unclassified languages Creoles Pidgins Mixed languages Artificial languages List of sign languages

Families with more than 30 languages are in bold. Families in italics have no liv