OriginsAlthough Kiowa is most closely related to the other Tanoan languages of the Pueblos, the earliest historic location of its speakers is western Montana around 1700. Prior to the historic record, oral histories, archaeology, and linguistics suggest that pre-Kiowa was the northernmost dialect of Proto-Kiowa-Tanoan, spoken at sites. Around AD 450, they migrated northward through the territory of the and Great Basin, occupying the eastern region of the Colorado Plateau until sometime before 1300. Speakers then drifted northward to the northwestern Plains, arriving no later than the mid-16th century in the area where the Kiowa were first encountered by Europeans. The Kiowa then later migrated to the Black Hills and the southern Plains, where the language was recorded in historic times.
Demographicsanthropologist Laurel Watkins noted in 1984 based on 's estimates that only about 400 people (mostly over the age of 50) could speak Kiowa and that only rarely were children learning the language. A more recent figure from McKenzie is 300 adult speakers of "varying degrees of fluency" reported by Mithun (1999) out of a 12,242 Kiowa tribal membership (US Census 2000). The Intertribal Wordpath Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving native languages of Oklahoma, estimates the maximum number of fluent Kiowa speakers as of 2006 to be 400. A 2013 newspaper article estimated 100 fluent speakers. UNESCO classifies Kiowa as 'severely endangered.' It claims the language had only 20 mother-tongue speakers in 2007, along with 80 second language speakers, most of whom were between the ages of 45 and 60.
Classes and revitalization effortsThe , the in , and the in offer Kiowa language classes. Kiowa hymns are sung at Mount Scott Kiowa United Methodist Church. The Kiowa Tribe offered weekly language classes at the Jacobson House, a nonprofit Native American art center in . Dane Poolaw and Carol Williams taught the language using Parker McKenzie's method. Alecia Gonzales (Kiowa/Apache, 1926–2011), who taught at USAO, wrote a Kiowa teaching grammar called '': beginning Kiowa language''. Modina Toppah Water (Kiowa) edited ''Saynday Kiowa Indian Children’s Stories'', a Kiowa language book of trickster stories published in 2013.
PhonologyThere are 23 consonants: Kiowa distinguishes six vowel qualities, with three distinctive levels of height and a front-back contrast. All six vowels may be or short, or nasal. Four of the vowels occur as s with a high front off-glide of the form ''vowel'' + . There are 24 vowels: : Contrasts among the consonants are easily demonstrated with an abundance of minimal and near-minimal pairs. There is no contrast between the presence of an initial and its absence. The ejective and aspirated stops are articulated forcefully. The unaspirated voiceless stops are tense, while the voiced stops are lax. The voiceless alveolar fricative is pronounced before The lateral is realized as in syllable-initial position, as lightly affricated in syllable-final position, and slightly devoiced in utterance-final position. It occurs seldom in word-initial position. The dental resonants and are palatalized before . All consonants may begin a syllable but may not occur word-initially outside of loan-words ( 'lion'). The only consonants which may terminate a syllable are . Certain sequences of consonant and vowel do not occur: dental and alveolar obstruents preceding (*); velars and preceding (*). These sequences do occur if they are the result of contraction: 'then he got up' The glide automatically occurs between all velars and , except if they are together as the result of a conjunction ( 'then he saw them'), or in loanwords ( 'American' >Sp. ''Americano''). Nasalization of voiced stops operates automatically only within the domain of the pronominal prefixes: voiced stops become the corresponding nasals either preceding or following a nasal. The velar nasal that is derived from is deleted; there is no in Kiowa. Underlying surfaces in alternating forms as following velars, as following labials and as if accompanied by falling tone. Obstruents are devoiced in two environments: in syllable-final position and following a voiceless obstruent. Voiced stops are devoiced in syllable-final position without exception. In effect, the rule applies only to and since velars are prohibited in final position. The palatal glide spreads across the laryngeals and , yielding a glide onset, a brief moment of coarticulation and a glide release. The laryngeals and are variably deleted between sonorants, which also applies across a word boundary.
OrthographyKiowa orthography was developed by native speaker , who had worked with J. P. Harrington and later with other linguists. The development of the orthography is detailed in Meadows & McKenzie (2001). The tables below show each orthographic symbol used in the Kiowa and its corresponding phonetic value (written IPA). : The mid-back vowel is indicated by a . The four diphthongs indicate the offglide with the letter following the main vowel. Nasal vowels are indicated by underlining the vowel letter: nasal ''o'' is thus . Long vowels are indicated with macron diacritics: long ''o'' is thus . Short vowels are unmarked. Tone is indicated with diacritics. The represents high tone, the indicates low tone, and the indicates falling tone, exemplified on the vowel ''o'' as (high), (low), (falling). Since long vowels also have tones, the vowel symbols can have both a macron and a tone diacritic above the macron: (long high), (long low), (long falling). : The palatal glide that is pronounced after velar consonants (which are phonetically , respectively) is not normally written.This glide is written in Harrington's vocabulary. There are, however, a few exceptions where is not followed by a glide, in which case an is written after the ''g'' as . Thus, there is, for example, which is pronounced and which is pronounced . The is also not written as it is often deleted and its presence is predictable. A final convention is that pronominal prefixes are written as separate words instead of being attached to verbs. Like many scripts of India, such as , the Kiowa alphabet is ordered according to mostly phonetic principles. The alphabetical order is shown in the tables above: Vowels first, then consonants, reading down the columns, left column then right.
Number inflectionKiowa, like other Tanoan languages, is characterized by an inverse system. Kiowa has four noun classes. Class I nouns are inherently singular/dual, Class II nouns are inherently dual/plural, Class III nouns are inherently dual, and Class IV nouns are mass or noncount nouns. If the number of a noun is different from its class's inherent value, the noun takes the suffix ''-gau'' (or a variant). Mithun (1999:445) gives as an example ''chē̲̂'' "horse/two horses" (Class I) made plural with the addition of ''-gau'': ''chē̲̂gau'' "horses". On the other hand, the Class II noun ''tṓ̲sè'' "bones/two bones" is made singular by suffixing ''-gau'': ''tṓ̲sègau'' "bone."
VerbsKiowa verbs consist of verb stems that can be preceded by prefixes, followed by suffixes, and other lexical stems into the verb complex. Kiowa verbs have a complex active–stative system expressed via prefixes, which can be followed by incorporated nouns, verbs, or adverbs. Following the main verb stem are suffixes that indicate tense/aspect and mode. A final group of suffixes that pertain to clausal relations can follow the tense-aspect-modal suffixes. These syntactic suffixes include s, s, and indicators. A skeletal representation of the Kiowa verb structure can be represented as the following: : The pronominal prefixes and tense/aspect-modal suffixes are and required to be present on every verb.
Pronominal inflectionKiowa verb stems are inflected with prefixes that indicate: # # grammatical number # semantic roles of participants All these of the categories are indicated for only the ''primary'' animate participant. If there is also a second participant (such as in transitive sentences), the number of the second participant is also indicated. A participant is primary in the following cases: * A volitional participant (i.e. the doer of the action who also has control over the action) is primary if it is the only participant in the clause. * In two-participant volitional agent/non-agent clauses: *# The non-agent participant is primary when *#* the non-agent is not in the first person singular or third person singular AND *#* the volitional agent is singular *# The volitional agent participant is primary when *#* the non-agent is in the first person singular or third person singular AND *#* the volitional agent is non-singular The term ''non-agent'' here refers to semantic roles including involitional agents, , beneficiaries, recipients, experiencers, and possessors. :
Bibliography* Adger, David and Daniel Harbour. (2005). The syntax and syncretisms of the person-case constraint. In K. Hiraiwa & J. Sabbagh (Eds.), ''MIT working papers in linguistics'' (No. 50). * Campbell, Lyle. (1997). ''American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America''. New York: Oxford University Press. . * * Gonzales, Alecia Keahbone. (2001). ''Thaum khoiye tdoen gyah: Beginning Kiowa language.'' Chickasha, OK: University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Foundation. . * * Harbour, Daniel. (2003). The Kiowa case for feature insertion. * Harrington, John P. (1928). ''Vocabulary of the Kiowa language''. Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin (No. 84). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off. * * * McKenzie, Andrew. (2012). ''The role of contextual restriction in reference-tracking''. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst. http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3518260. * McKenzie, Parker; & Harrington, John P. (1948). ''Popular account of the Kiowa Indian language''. Santa Fe: University of New Mexico Press. * * Merrill, William; Hansson, Marian; Greene, Candace; & Reuss, Frederick. (1997). ''A guide to the Kiowa collections at the Smithsonian Institution''. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 40. * * * * Mithun, Marianne. (1999). ''The languages of Native NorthMarianne Mithun America''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (hbk); . * Palmer, Jr., Gus (Pánthâidè). (2004). ''Telling stories the Kiowa way''. * * Takahashi, Junichi. (1984). Case marking in Kiowa. CUNY. (Doctoral dissertation). * * Trager, Edith C. (1960). The Kiowa language: A grammatical study. University of Pennsylvania. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania). * Trager-Johnson, Edith C. (1972). Kiowa and English pronouns: Contrastive morphosemantics. In L. M. Davis (Ed.), ''Studies in linguistics, in honor of Raven I. McDavid''. University of Alabama Press. * Watkins, Laurel J. (1976). Position in grammar: Sit, stand, and lie. In ''Kansas working papers in linguistics'' (Vol. 1). Lawrence. * * *Watkins, Laurel J.; & McKenzie, Parker. (1984). ''A grammar of Kiowa''. Studies in the anthropology of North American Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. . *