O'odham (pronounced [ˈʔɔʔɔðɦam]) or Papago-Pima is a
Uto-Aztecan language of southern
1 Dialects 2 Morphology 3 Phonology
3.1 Consonants 3.2 Vowels 3.3 Allophony and distribution
4.1 Etymological or phonetic spelling?
5.1 Syntax 5.2 Verbs 5.3 Nouns 5.4 Adjectives
6 Sample text 7 See also 8 References 9 External links
Dialects The O'dham language has a number of dialects.
Cukuḍ Kuk Gigimai Hu:huʼula Huhuwoṣ Totoguañ
Eastern Gila Kohadk Salt River Western Gila
Hia C-ed O'odham
Due to the paucity of data on the linguistic varieties of the Hia
C-eḍ O'odham, this section currently focuses on the Tohono O'odham
and Akimel O'odham dialects only.
The greatest lexical and grammatical dialectal differences are between
Tohono O'odham Akimel O'odham English
ʼaʼad hotṣ to send
ñeñida tamiam to wait for
s-hewhogĭ s-heubagĭ to be cool
sisiṣ hoʼiumi (but si:ṣpakuḍ, stapler) to fasten
pi: haʼicug pi ʼac to be absent
wia ʼoʼoid hunt tr.
There are other major dialectal differences between northern and southern dialects, for example:
Early O'odham Southern Northern English
*ʼa:phi:m ʼa:ham ʼa:pim you
*cu:khug cu:hug cu:kug flesh
*ʼe:kheg ʼe:heg ʼe:keg to be shaded
*ʼu:pham ʼu:hum ʼu:pam (go) back
The Cukuḍ Kuk dialect has null in certain positions where other
Other TO dialects Chukuḍ Kuk English
jiwia, jiwa jiia to arrive
ʼuʼuwhig ʼuʼuhig bird
wabṣ haṣ only
wabṣaba, ṣaba haṣaba but
O'odham is an agglutinative language, where words use suffix complexes
for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.
For clarity, note that the terms
Labial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t
t͡ʃ k ʔ
voiced b d ɖ d͡ʒ g
Fricative (v) s ʂ
The retroflex consonants are apical postalveolar. Vowels
Front Central Back
High i iː ɨ ɨː ʊ uː
ə ɔ ɔː
Most vowels distinguish two degrees of length: long and short, and some vowels also show extra-short duration (voicelessness).
ṣe:l /ʂɨːɭ/ "Seri" ṣel /ʂɨɭ/ "permission" ʼa:pi /ʔaːpi/ "you" da:pĭ /daːpɪ̥/ "I don't know", "who knows?"
Papago /ɨ/ is pronounced /ʌ/ in Pima. Additionally, in common with many northern Uto-Aztecan languages, vowels and nasals at end of words are devoiced. Also, a short schwa sound, either voiced or unvoiced depending on position, is often interpolated between consonants and at the ends of words. Allophony and distribution
/ĭ/ is realized as [i̥], and devoices preceding obstruents: cuwĭ /tʃʊwĭ/ → [tʃʊʍi̥]~[tʃʊʍʲ] "jackrabbit". /w/ is a fricative [β] before unrounded vowels: wisilo [βisiɭɔ]. [ŋ] appears before /k/ and /ɡ/ in Spanish loanwords, but native words do not have nasal assimilation: to:nk [toːnk] "hill", namk [namk] "meet", ca:ŋgo [tʃaːŋɡo] "monkey". /p/, /ɭ/, and /ɖ/ rarely occur initially in native words, and /ɖ/ does not occur before /i/. [ɲ] and [n] are largely in complementary distribution, [ɲ] appearing before high vowels /i/ /ɨ/ /ʊ/, [n] appearing before low vowels /a/ /ɔ/: ñeʼe "sing". They contrast finally (ʼañ (1st imperfective auxiliary) vs. an "next to speaker"), though Saxton analyzes these as /ani/ and /an/, respectively, and final [ɲi] as in ʼa:ñi as /niː/. However, there are several Spanish loanwords where [nu] occurs: nu:milo "number". Similarly, for the most part [t] and [d] appear before low vowels while [tʃ] and [dʒ] before high vowels, but there are exceptions to both, often in Spanish loanwords: tiki:la ("tequila") "wine", TO weco / AO veco ("[de]bajo") "under".
There are two orthographies commonly used for the O'odham language:
Alvarez–Hale and Saxton. The Alvarez–Hale orthography is
officially used by the
Tohono O'odham Nation
Phoneme Alvarez–Hale Saxton Meaning
/a/ a ʼaʼal a a'al baby
/b/ b ban b ban coyote
/tʃ/ c cehia ch chehia girl
/ð/ d da:k th thahk nose
/ɖ/ ḍ meḍ d med run
/d/ ḏ juḏum d judum bear
TO /ɨ/, AO /ʌ/ e ʼeʼeb e e'eb stop crying
/ɡ/ g gogs g gogs dog
/h/ h haʼicu h ha'ichu something
TO /i/, AO /ɨ/ i ʼi:bhai i ihbhai prickly pear cactus
/dʒ/ j ju:kĭ j juhki rain
/k/ k ke:k k kehk stand
/ɭ/ l lu:lsi l luhlsi candy
/m/ m mu:ñ m muhni bean(s)
/n/ n na:k n nahk ear
/ɲ/ ñ ñeʼe, mu:ñ n, ni ne'e, muhni sing, bean(s)
/ŋ/ ŋ aŋhil, wa:ŋgo ng, n anghil, wahngo angel, bank
/ɔ/ o ʼoʼohan o o'ohan write
/p/ p pi p pi not
/s/ s sitol s sitol syrup
/ʂ/ ṣ ṣoiga sh shoiga pet
/t/ t to:bĭ t tohbi cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii)
/u/ u ʼu:s u uhs tree, wood
/v/ v vainom v vainom knife
/w/ w wuai w wuai male deer
/j/ y payaso y pa-yaso clown
/ʔ/ ʼ ʼaʼan ' a'an feather
/ː/ : ju:kĭ h juhki rain
The Saxton orthography does not mark word-initial /ʔ/ or extra-short vowels. Final ⟨i⟩ generally corresponds to Hale–Alvarez ⟨ĭ⟩ and final ⟨ih⟩ to Hale–Alvarez ⟨i⟩:
Hale–Alvarez to:bĭ vs. Saxton tohbi /toːbĭ/ "cottontail rabbit" Hale–Alvarez ʼaːpi vs. Saxton ahpih /ʔaːpi/ "I"
Etymological or phonetic spelling? There is some disagreement among speakers as to whether the spelling of words should be only phonetic or whether etymological principles should be considered as well. For example, oamajda vs. wuamajda ("frybread"; some people may also use a c instead of a j), oam means "yellow/brown/orange" and thus is a compound word of sorts. Some people believe it should begin like any word that starts with a /ʊa/, wua, while others think its spelling should match that of the word oam (oam is in fact a form of s-oam, so while it could be spelled wuam itself, it is not since it is just a different declension of the same word) to reflect its etymology. Grammar Syntax O'odham has relatively free word order within clauses; for example, all of the following sentences mean "the boy brands the pig":
ceoj ʼo g ko:jĭ ceposid ko:jĭ ʼo g ceoj ceposid ceoj ʼo ceposid g ko:jĭ ko:jĭ ʼo ceposid g ceoj ceposid ʼo g ceoj g ko:jĭ ceposid ʼo g ko:jĭ g ceoj
In principle, these could also mean "the pig brands the boy", but such an interpretation would require an unusual context. Despite the general freedom of sentence word order, O'odham is fairly strictly verb-second in its placement of the auxiliary verb (in the above sentences, it is ʼo):
cipkan ʼañ "I am working" but pi ʼañ cipkan "I am not working", not **pi cipkan ʼañ
Verbs Verbs are inflected for aspect (imperfective cipkan, perfective cipk), tense (future imperfective cipkanad), and number (plural cicpkan). Number agreement displays absolutive behavior: verbs agree with the number of the subject in intransitive sentences, but with that of the object in transitive sentences:
ceoj ʼo cipkan "the boy is working" cecoj ʼo cicpkan "the boys are working" ceoj ʼo g ko:ji ceposid "the boy is branding the pig" cecoj ʼo g ko:ji ceposid "the boys are branding the pig" ceoj ʼo g kokji ha-cecposid "the boy is branding the pigs"
The main verb agrees with the object for person (ha- in the above example), but the auxiliary agrees with the subject: ʼa:ñi ʼañ g kokji ha-cecposid "I am branding the pigs". Nouns Three numbers are distinguished in nouns: singular, plural, and distributive, though not all nouns have distinct forms for each. Most distinct plurals are formed by reduplication and often vowel loss plus other occasional morphophonemic changes, and distributives are formed from these by gemination of the reduplicated consonant:
gogs "dog", gogogs "dogs", goggogs "dogs (all over)" ma:gina "car", mamgina "cars", mammagina "cars (all over)" mi:stol "cat", mimstol "cats"
Adjectives O'odham adjectives can act both attributively modifying nouns and predicatively as verbs, with no change in form.
ʼi:da ṣu:dagĭ ʼo s-he:pid "This water is cold" ʼs-he:pid ṣu:dagĭ ʼañ hohoʼid "I like cold water"
Sample text The following is an excerpt from Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program: Taḏai. It exemplifies the Salt River dialect.
Na:nse ʼe:da, mo: hek jeweḍ ʼu:d si we:coc, ma:ṣ hek Taḏai siskeg ʼu:d ʼuʼuhig. Hek ʼaʼanac c wopo:c si wo skegac c ʼep si cecwac. Kuṣ ʼam hebai hai ki g ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼoʼoidam k ʼam ʼupam da:da k ʼam ce: ma:ṣ he:kai cu hek ha na:da. ʼI:dam ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼeh he:mapa k ʼam aʼaga ma:ṣ has ma:sma vo bei hek na:da ʼab ʼamjeḍ hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Ṣa biʼi ʼa ma:ṣ mo ka:ke hek Taḏai ma:ṣ mo me:tk ʼamo ta:i hek na:da ha we:hejeḍ ʼi:dam ʼOʼodham. Taḏai ṣa: ma so:hi ma:ṣ mo me:ḍk ʼamo ta:i g na:da hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Tho ṣud me:tkam, ʼam “si ʼi nai:ṣ hek wo:gk” k gau mel ma:ṣ ʼam ki g Tatañki Jioṣ.
In Saxton orthography:
Nahnse ehtha, moh hek jeved uhth sih vehchoch, mahsh hek Tadai siskeg uhth u'uhig. Hek a'anach ch vopohch sih vo skegach ch ep sih chechvach. Kush am hebai hai kih g O'ottham sham o'oitham k am upam thahtha k am cheh mahsh hehkai chu hek ha nahtha. Ihtham O'othham sham eh hehmapa k am a'aga mahsh has mahsma vo bei hek nahtha ab amjeth hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Sha bi'ih a mahsh mo kahke hek Tadai mahsh mo mehtk amo tah'ih hek nahtha ha vehhejed ihtham O'ottham. Tadai shah ma sohhih mahsh mo mehdk amo tah'ih g nahtha hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Tho shuth mehtkam, am “sih ih naihsh hek vohgk” k gau mel mahsh am kih g Tatanigi Jiosh.
Indigenous peoples of North America portal
For a list of words relating to O'odham language, see the O'odham language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Tohono O'odham Pima language Pima Bajo language
^ O'odham at
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O'odham language test of at Wikimedia Incubator
O'odham Swadesh vocabulary list (Wiktionary) Papago –