The Info List - Native American Languages

Indigenous languages of the Americas
are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska
and Greenland
to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses that constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families, as well as many language isolates and unclassified languages. Many proposals to group these into higher-level families have been made, such as Joseph Greenberg's Amerind hypothesis.[1] This scheme is rejected by nearly all specialists, due to the fact that some of the languages differ too significantly to draw any connections between them.[2] According to UNESCO, most of the indigenous American languages in North America are critically endangered, and many are already extinct.[3] The most widely spoken indigenous language is Southern Quechua, with about 6 to 7 million speakers, primarily in South America.


1 Background 2 Origins 3 Language families and unclassified languages

3.1 North America 3.2 Central America
Central America
and Mexico 3.3 South America and the Caribbean

4 Language stock proposals 5 Linguistic areas 6 Unattested languages 7 Pidgins and mixed languages 8 See also 9 Notes 10 Bibliography

10.1 North America 10.2 South America

11 External links


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Further information: Indigenous peoples of the Americas Thousands of languages were spoken by various peoples in North and South America prior to their first contact with Europeans.[dubious – discuss] These encounters occurred between the beginning of the 11th century (with the Nordic settlement of Greenland
and failed efforts in Newfoundland and Labrador) and the end of the 15th century (the voyages of Christopher Columbus). Several indigenous cultures of the Americas
had also developed their own writing systems, the best known being the Maya script.[4] The indigenous languages of the Americas
had widely varying demographics, from the Quechuan languages, Aymara, Guarani, and Nahuatl, which had millions of active speakers, to many languages with only several hundred speakers. After pre-Columbian times, several indigenous creole languages developed in the Americas, based on European, indigenous and African languages. The European colonizers and their successor states had widely varying attitudes towards Native American languages. In Brazil, friars learned and promoted the Tupi language.[5] In many Latin American colonies, Spanish missionaries often learned local languages and culture in order to preach to the natives in their own tongue and relate the Christian message to their indigenous religions. In the British American colonies, John Eliot of the Massachusetts Bay Colony translated the Bible into the Massachusett language, also called Wampanoag, or Natick (1661–1663; he published the first Bible printed in North America, the Eliot Indian Bible. The Europeans also suppressed use of indigenous American languages, establishing their own languages for official communications, destroying texts in other languages, and insisting that indigenous people learn European languages in schools. As a result, indigenous American languages suffered from cultural suppression and loss of speakers. By the 18th and 19th centuries, Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and Dutch, brought to the Americas
by European settlers and administrators, had become the official or national languages of modern nation-states of the Americas. Many indigenous languages have become critically endangered, but others are vigorous and part of daily life for millions of people. Several indigenous languages have been given official status in the countries where they occur, such as Guaraní in Paraguay. In other cases official status is limited to certain regions where the languages are most spoken. Although sometimes enshrined in constitutions as official, the languages may be used infrequently in de facto official use. Examples are Quechua in Peru
and Aymara in Bolivia, where in practice, Spanish is dominant in all formal contexts. In North America and the Arctic region, Greenland
in 2009 adopted Kalaallisut
as its sole official language. In the United States, the Navajo language
Navajo language
is the most spoken Native American language, with more than 200,000 speakers in the Southwestern United States. The US Marine Corps recruited Navajo men, who were established as code talkers during World War II, to transmit secret US military messages. Neither the Germans nor Japanese ever deciphered the Navajo code, which was a code using the Navajo language. Today, governments, universities, and indigenous peoples are continuing to work for the preservation and revitalization of indigenous American languages. Origins[edit] See also: Settlement of the Americas In American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America (1997), Lyle Campbell lists several hypotheses for the historical origins of Amerindian languages.[6]

A single, one-language migration (not widely accepted) A few linguistically distinct migrations (favored by Edward Sapir) Multiple migrations Multilingual migrations (single migration with multiple languages) The influx of already diversified but related languages from the Old World Extinction of Old World
Old World
linguistic relatives (while the New World ones survived) Migration along the Pacific coast instead of by the Bering Strait

Roger Blench (2008) has advocated the theory of multiple migrations along the Pacific coast of peoples from northeastern Asia, who already spoke diverse languages. These proliferated in the New World.[7] Language families and unclassified languages[edit] Further information: Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas Notes:

Extinct languages or families are indicated by: †. The number of family members is indicated in parentheses (for example, Arauan (9) means the Arauan family consists of nine languages). For convenience, the following list of language families is divided into three sections based on political boundaries of countries. These sections correspond roughly with the geographic regions (North, Central, and South America) but are not equivalent. This division cannot fully delineate indigenous culture areas.

North America[edit]

Pre-contact: distribution of North American language families, including northern Mexico

stop sign in English and the Cherokee syllabary, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

There are approximately 296 spoken (or formerly spoken) indigenous languages north of Mexico, 269 of which are grouped into 29 families (the remaining 27 languages are either isolates or unclassified). The Na-Dené, Algic, and Uto-Aztecan families are the largest in terms of number of languages. Uto-Aztecan has the most speakers (1.95 million) if the languages in Mexico are considered (mostly due to 1.5 million speakers of Nahuatl); Na-Dené comes in second with approximately 200,000 speakers (nearly 180,000 of these are speakers of Navajo), and Algic in third with about 180,000 speakers (mainly Cree and Ojibwe). Na-Dené and Algic have the widest geographic distributions: Algic currently spans from northeastern Canada
across much of the continent down to northeastern Mexico (due to later migrations of the Kickapoo) with two outliers in California
(Yurok and Wiyot); Na-Dené spans from Alaska
and western Canada
through Washington, Oregon, and California to the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico (with one outlier in the Plains). Several families consist of only 2 or 3 languages. Demonstrating genetic relationships has proved difficult due to the great linguistic diversity present in North America. Two large (super-) family proposals, Penutian and Hokan, look particularly promising. However, even after decades of research, a large number of families remain. North America is notable for its linguistic diversity, especially in California. This area has 18 language families comprising 74 languages (compared to four families in Europe: Indo-European, Uralic, Turkic, and Afroasiatic and one isolate: Basque).[8] Another area of considerable diversity appears to have been the Southeastern United States[citation needed]; however, many of these languages became extinct from European contact and as a result they are, for the most part, absent from the historical record.[citation needed] This diversity has influenced the development of linguistic theories and practice in the US. Due to the diversity of languages in North America, it is difficult to make generalizations for the region. Most North American languages have a relatively small number of vowels (i.e. four or five vowels). Languages of the western half of North America often have relatively large consonant inventories. The languages of the Pacific Northwest are notable for their complex phonotactics (for example, some languages have words that lack vowels entirely).[9] The languages of the Plateau area have relatively rare pharyngeals and epiglottals (they are otherwise restricted to Afroasiatic languages
Afroasiatic languages
and the languages of the Caucasus). Ejective consonants are also common in western North America, although they are rare elsewhere (except, again, for the Caucasus
region, parts of Africa, and the Mayan family). Head-marking is found in many languages of North America (as well as in Central and South America), but outside of the Americas
it is rare. Many languages throughout North America are polysynthetic ( Eskimo–Aleut languages
Eskimo–Aleut languages
are extreme examples), although this is not characteristic of all North American languages (contrary to what was believed by 19th-century linguists). Several families have unique traits, such as the inverse number marking of the Tanoan languages, the lexical affixes of the Wakashan, Salishan and Chimakuan languages, and the unusual verb structure of Na-Dené. The classification below is a composite of Goddard (1996), Campbell (1997), and Mithun (1999). See also: List of unclassified languages of North America

Adai † Algic (30) Alsea (2) † Atakapa † Beothuk † Caddoan (5) Cayuse † Chimakuan (2) † Chimariko † Chinookan (3) † Chitimacha † Chumashan (6) † Coahuilteco † Comecrudan ( United States
United States
& Mexico) (3) † Coosan (2) † Cotoname † Eskimo–Aleut (7) Esselen † Haida Iroquoian (11) Kalapuyan (3) † Karankawa † Karuk Keresan (2) Kutenai Maiduan (4) Muskogean (9) Na-Dené (United States, Canada
& Mexico) (39) Natchez † Palaihnihan (2) Plateau Penutian (4) (also known as Shahapwailutan) Pomoan (7) Salinan † Salishan (23) Shastan (4) † Siouan (19) Siuslaw † Solano † Takelma † Tanoan (7) Timucua † Tonkawa † Tsimshianic (2) Tunica † Utian (15) (also known as Miwok–Costanoan) Uto-Aztecan (33) Wakashan (7) Wappo † Washo Wintuan (4) Yana † Yokutsan (3) Yuchi Yuki † Yuman–Cochimí (11) Zuni

Central America
Central America
and Mexico[edit]

The indigenous languages of Mexico that have more than 100,000 speakers

The Mayan languages

The Chibchan languages

In Central America
Central America
the Mayan languages
Mayan languages
are among those used today. Mayan languages
Mayan languages
are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages
Mayan languages
by name, and Mexico recognizes eight more. The Mayan language family is one of the best documented and most studied in the Americas. Modern Mayan languages descend from Proto-Mayan, a language thought to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago; it has been partially reconstructed using the comparative method. See also: Mesoamerican languages

Alagüilac (Guatemala) † Chibchan ( Central America
Central America
& South America) (22) Coahuilteco † Comecrudan ( Texas
& Mexico) (3) † Cotoname † Cuitlatec (Mexico: Guerrero) † Epi-Olmec (Mexico: language of undeciphered inscriptions) † Guaicurian (8) Huave Jicaquean Lencan Maratino (northeastern Mexico) † Mayan (31) Miskito Misumalpan Mixe–Zoquean (19) Naolan (Mexico: Tamaulipas) † Oto-Manguean (27) Purépecha Quinigua (northeast Mexico) † Seri Solano † Tequistlatecan (3) Totonacan (2) Uto-Aztecan ( United States
United States
& Mexico) (33) Xincan Yuman ( United States
United States
& Mexico) (11)

South America and the Caribbean[edit]

Some of the greater families of South America: dark spots are language isolates or quasi-isolate, grey spots unclassified languages or languages with doubtful classification. (Note that Quechua, the family with most speakers, is not displayed.)

A Urarina shaman, 1988

Although both North and Central America
Central America
are very diverse areas, South America has a linguistic diversity rivalled by only a few other places in the world with approximately 350 languages still spoken and an estimated 1,500 languages at first European contact. The situation of language documentation and classification into genetic families is not as advanced as in North America (which is relatively well studied in many areas). Kaufman (1994: 46) gives the following appraisal:

Since the mid 1950s, the amount of published material on SA [South America] has been gradually growing, but even so, the number of researchers is far smaller than the growing number of linguistic communities whose speech should be documented. Given the current employment opportunities, it is not likely that the number of specialists in SA Indian languages will increase fast enough to document most of the surviving SA languages before they go out of use, as most of them unavoidably will. More work languishes in personal files than is published, but this is a standard problem. It is fair to say that SA and New Guinea
New Guinea
are linguistically the poorest documented parts of the world. However, in the early 1960s fairly systematic efforts were launched in Papua New Guinea, and that area – much smaller than SA, to be sure – is in general much better documented than any part of indigenous SA of comparable size.

As a result, many relationships between languages and language families have not been determined and some of those relationships that have been proposed are on somewhat shaky ground. The list of language families, isolates, and unclassified languages below is a rather conservative one based on Campbell (1997). Many of the proposed (and often speculative) groupings of families can be seen in Campbell (1997), Gordon (2005), Kaufman (1990, 1994), Key (1979), Loukotka (1968), and in the Language stock proposals section below. See also: List of unclassified languages of South America

Aguano † Aikaná (Brazil: Rondônia) (also known as Aikanã, Tubarão) Andaquí (also known as Andaqui, Andakí) † Andoque (Colombia, Peru) (also known as Andoke) Andoquero † Arauan (9) Arawakan
(South America & Caribbean) (64) (also known as Maipurean) Arutani Aymaran (3) Baenan (Brazil: Bahia) (also known as Baenán, Baenã) † Barbacoan (8) Betoi (Colombia) (also known as Betoy, Jirara) † Bororoan Botocudoan (3) (also known as Aimoré) Cahuapanan (2) (also known as Jebero, Kawapánan) Camsá (Colombia) (also known as Sibundoy, Coche) Candoshi (also known as Maina, Kandoshi) Canichana (Bolivia) (also known as Canesi, Kanichana) Carabayo Cariban (29) (also known as Caribe, Carib) Catacaoan (also known as Katakáoan) † Cayubaba (Bolivia) Chapacuran (9) (also known as Chapacura-Wanham, Txapakúran) Charruan (also known as Charrúan) † Chibchan ( Central America
Central America
& South America) (22) Chimuan (3) † Chipaya–Uru (also known as Uru–Chipaya) Chiquitano Choco (10) (also known as Chocoan) Chon (2) (also known as Patagonian) Chono † Coeruna (Brazil) † Cofán (Colombia, Ecuador) Cueva † Culle (Peru) (also known as Culli, Linga, Kulyi) † Cunza (Chile, Bolivia, Argentina) (also known as Atacama, Atakama, Atacameño, Lipe, Kunsa) † Esmeraldeño (also known as Esmeralda, Takame) † Fulnió Gamela (Brazil: Maranhão) † Gorgotoqui (Bolivia) † Guaicuruan (7) (also known as Guaykuruan, Waikurúan) Guajiboan (4) (also known as Wahívoan) Guamo (Venezuela) (also known as Wamo) † Guató Harakmbut (2) (also known as Tuyoneri) Hibito–Cholon † Himarimã Hodï (Venezuela) (also known as Jotí, Hoti, Waruwaru) Huamoé (Brazil: Pernambuco) † Huaorani (Ecuador, Peru) (also known as Auca, Huaorani, Wao, Auka, Sabela, Waorani, Waodani) Huarpe (also known as Warpe) † Irantxe (Brazil: Mato Grosso) Itonama (Bolivia) (also known as Saramo, Machoto) Jabutian Je (13) (also known as Gê, Jêan, Gêan, Ye) Jeikó † Jirajaran (3) (also known as Hiraháran, Jirajarano, Jirajarana) † Jivaroan (2) (also known as Hívaro) Kaimbe Kaliana (also known as Caliana, Cariana, Sapé, Chirichano) Kamakanan † Kapixaná (Brazil: Rondônia) (also known as Kanoé, Kapishaná) Karajá Karirí (Brazil: Paraíba, Pernambuco, Ceará) † Katembrí † Katukinan (3) (also known as Catuquinan) Kawésqar (Chile) (Kaweskar, Alacaluf, Qawasqar, Halawalip, Aksaná, Hekaine) Kwaza (Koayá) (Brazil: Rondônia) Leco (Lapalapa, Leko) Lule (Argentina) (also known as Tonocoté) Maku (cf. other Maku) Malibú (also known as Malibu) Mapudungu
(Chile, Argentina) (also known as Araucanian, Mapuche, Huilliche) Mascoyan (5) (also known as Maskóian, Mascoian) Matacoan (4) (also known as Mataguayan) Matanawí † Maxakalían (3) (also known as Mashakalían) Mocana (Colombia: Tubará) † Mosetenan (also known as Mosetén) Movima (Bolivia) Munichi (Peru) (also known as Muniche) Muran (4) Mutú (also known as Loco) Nadahup (5) Nambiquaran (5) Natú (Brazil: Pernambuco) † Nonuya (Peru, Colombia) Ofayé Old Catío–Nutabe (Colombia) † Omurano (Peru) (also known as Mayna, Mumurana, Numurana, Maina, Rimachu, Roamaina, Umurano) † Otí (Brazil: São Paulo) † Otomakoan (2) † Paez (also known as Nasa Yuwe) Palta † Pankararú (Brazil: Pernambuco) † Pano–Tacanan (33) Panzaleo (Ecuador) (also known as Latacunga, Quito, Pansaleo) † Patagon † (Peru) Peba–Yaguan (2) (also known as Yaguan, Yáwan, Peban) Pijao† Pre-Arawakan languages of the Greater Antilles
Pre-Arawakan languages of the Greater Antilles
(Guanahatabey, Macorix, Ciguayo) † (Cuba, Hispaniola) Puelche (Chile) (also known as Guenaken, Gennaken, Pampa, Pehuenche, Ranquelche) † Puinave (also known as Makú) Puquina (Bolivia) † Purian (2) † Quechuan (46) Rikbaktsá Saliban (2) (also known as Sálivan) Sechura (Atalan, Sec) † Tabancale † (Peru) Tairona (Colombia) † Tarairiú (Brazil: Rio Grande do Norte) † Taruma † Taushiro (Peru) (also known as Pinchi, Pinche) Tequiraca (Peru) (also known as Tekiraka, Avishiri) † Teushen † (Patagonia, Argentina) Ticuna (Colombia, Peru, Brazil) (also known as Magta, Tikuna, Tucuna, Tukna, Tukuna) Timotean (2) † Tiniguan (2) (also known as Tiníwan, Pamiguan) † Trumai (Brazil: Xingu, Mato Grosso) Tucanoan (15) Tupian (70, including Guaraní) Tuxá (Brazil: Bahia, Pernambuco) † Urarina (also known as Shimacu, Itukale, Shimaku) Vilela Wakona † Warao (Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela) (also known as Guarao) Witotoan (6) (also known as Huitotoan, Bora–Witótoan) Xokó (Brazil: Alagoas, Pernambuco) (also known as Shokó) † Xukurú (Brazil: Pernambuco, Paraíba) † Yaghan (Chile) (also known as Yámana) Yanomaman (4) Yaruro (also known as Jaruro) Yuracare (Bolivia) Yuri (Colombia, Brazil) (also known as Carabayo, Jurí) † Yurumanguí (Colombia) (also known as Yurimangui, Yurimangi) † Zamucoan (2) Zaparoan (5) (also known as Záparo)

Language stock proposals[edit] Main article: Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas Hypothetical language-family proposals of American languages are often cited as uncontroversial in popular writing. However, many of these proposals have not been fully demonstrated, or even demonstrated at all. Some proposals are viewed by specialists in a favorable light, believing that genetic relationships are very likely to be established in the future (for example, the Penutian stock). Other proposals are more controversial with many linguists believing that some genetic relationships of a proposal may be demonstrated but much of it undemonstrated (for example, Hokan–Siouan, which, incidentally, Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir
called his "wastepaper basket stock").[10] Still other proposals are almost unanimously rejected by specialists (for example, Amerind). Below is a (partial) list of some such proposals:

Algonquian–Wakashan   (also known as Almosan) Almosan–Keresiouan
  (Almosan + Keresiouan) Amerind   (all languages excepting Eskimo–Aleut & Na-Dené) Angonkian–Gulf   (Algic + Beothuk + Gulf) (macro-)Arawakan Arutani–Sape (Ahuaque–Kalianan) Aztec–Tanoan
  (Uto-Aztecan + Tanoan) Chibchan–Paezan Chikitano–Boróroan Chimu–Chipaya Coahuiltecan
  (Coahuilteco + Cotoname + Comecrudan + Karankawa + Tonkawa) Cunza–Kapixanan Dené–Caucasian Dené–Yeniseian Esmerelda–Yaruroan Ge–Pano–Carib Guamo–Chapacuran Gulf   (Muskogean + Natchez + Tunica) Macro-Kulyi–Cholónan Hokan   (Karok + Chimariko + Shastan + Palaihnihan + Yana + Pomoan + Washo + Esselen + Yuman + Salinan + Chumashan + Seri + Tequistlatecan) Hokan–Siouan
  (Hokan + Keresiouan
+ Subtiaba–Tlappanec + Coahuiltecan
+ Yukian + Tunican + Natchez + Muskogean + Timucua) Je–Tupi–Carib Jivaroan–Cahuapanan Kalianan Kandoshi–Omurano–Taushiro (Macro-)Katembri–Taruma Kaweskar language area Keresiouan
  (Macro-Siouan + Keresan + Yuchi) Lule–Vilelan Macro-Andean Macro-Carib Macro-Chibchan Macro-Gê
  (also known as Macro-Jê) Macro-Jibaro Macro-Lekoan Macro-Mayan Macro-Otomákoan Macro-Paesan Macro-Panoan Macro-Puinavean Macro-Siouan   (Siouan + Iroquoian + Caddoan) Macro-Tucanoan Macro-Tupí–Karibe Macro-Waikurúan Macro-Warpean   (Muran + Matanawi + Huarpe) Mataco–Guaicuru Mosan   (Salishan + Wakashan + Chimakuan) Mosetén–Chonan Mura–Matanawian Sapir's Na-Dené including Haida   (Haida + Tlingit + Eyak + Athabaskan) Nostratic–Amerind Paezan (Andaqui + Paez + Panzaleo) Paezan–Barbacoan Penutian   (many languages of California
and sometimes languages in Mexico)

Penutian   (Wintuan + Maiduan + Yokutsan + Utian) Oregon
Penutian   (Takelma + Coosan + Siuslaw + Alsean) Mexican Penutian   (Mixe–Zoque + Huave)

Puinave–Maku Quechumaran Saparo–Yawan   (also known as Zaparo–Yaguan) Sechura–Catacao (also known as Sechura–Tallan) Takelman   (Takelma + Kalapuyan) Tequiraca–Canichana Ticuna–Yuri (Yuri–Ticunan) Totozoque   (Totonacan + Mixe–Zoque) Tunican   (Tunica + Atakapa + Chitimacha) Yok–Utian Yuki–Wappo

Good discussions of past proposals can be found in Campbell (1997) and Campbell & Mithun (1979). Amerindian linguist Lyle Campbell also assigned different percentage values of probability and confidence for various proposals of macro-families and language relationships, depending on his views of the proposals' strengths.[11] For example, the Germanic language family would receive probability and confidence percentage values of +100% and 100%, respectively. However, if Turkish and Quechua were compared, the probability value might be −95%, while the confidence value might be 95%.[clarification needed] 0% probability or confidence would mean complete uncertainty.

Language Family Probability Confidence

Algonkian–Gulf −50% 50%

Almosan (and beyond) −75% 50%

Atakapa–Chitimacha −50% 60%

Aztec–Tanoan 0% 50%

Coahuiltecan −85% 80%

Eskimo–Aleut, Chukotan[12] −25% 20%

Guaicurian–Hokan 0% 10%

Gulf −25% 40%

Hokan–Subtiaba −90% 75%

Jicaque–Hokan −30% 25%

Jicaque–Subtiaba −60% 80%

Jicaque–Tequistlatecan +65% 50%

Keresan and Uto-Aztecan 0% 60%

Keresan and Zuni −40% 40%

Macro-Mayan[13] +30% 25%

Macro-Siouan[14] −20% 75%

Maya–Chipaya −80% 95%

Maya–Chipaya–Yunga −90% 95%

Mexican Penutian −40% 60%

Misumalpan–Chibchan +20% 50%

Mosan −60% 65%

Na-Dene 0% 25%

Natchez–Muskogean +40% 20%

Nostratic–Amerind −90% 75%

Otomanguean–Huave +25% 25%

Purépecha–Quechua −90% 80%

Quechua as Hokan −85% 80%

Quechumaran +50% 50%

Sahaptian–Klamath–(Molala) +75% 50%

Sahaptian–Klamath–Tsimshian +10% 10%

Takelman[15] +80% 60%

Tlapanec–Subtiaba as Otomanguean +95% 90%

Tlingit–Eyak–Athabaskan +75% 40%

Tunican 0% 20%

Wakashan and Chimakuan 0% 25%

Yukian–Gulf −85% 70%

Yukian–Siouan −60% 75%

Zuni–Penutian −80% 50%

Linguistic areas[edit] Main article: Linguistic areas of the Americas Unattested languages[edit] Several languages are only known by mention in historical documents or from only a few names or words. It cannot be determined that these languages actually existed or that the few recorded words are actually of known or unknown languages. Some may simply be from a historian's errors. Others are of known people with no linguistic record (sometimes due to lost records). A short list is below.

Ais Akokisa Aranama Ausaima Avoyel Bayogoula Bidai Cacán (Diaguita–Calchaquí) Calusa - Mayaimi
- Tequesta Cusabo Eyeish Grigra Guale Houma Koroa Manek'enk (Haush) [perhaps Chon] Mayaca (possibly related to Ais) Mobila Okelousa Opelousa Pascagoula Pensacola - Chatot (Muscogean languages, possibly related to Choctaw) Quinipissa Taensa Tiou Yamacraw Yamasee Yazoo

Loukotka (1968) reports the names of hundreds of South American languages which do not have any linguistic documentation. Pidgins and mixed languages[edit] Various miscellaneous languages such as pidgins, mixed languages, trade languages, and sign languages are given below in alphabetical order.

American Indian Pidgin English Algonquian-Basque pidgin
Algonquian-Basque pidgin
(also known as Micmac-Basque Pidgin, Souriquois; spoken by the Basques, Micmacs, and Montagnais in eastern Canada) Broken Oghibbeway (also known as Broken Ojibwa) Broken Slavey Bungee (also known as Bungi, Bungie, Bungay, or the Red River Dialect) Callahuaya (also known as Machaj-Juyai, Kallawaya, Collahuaya, Pohena, Kolyawaya Jargon) Carib Pidgin (also known as Ndjuka-Amerindian Pidgin, Ndjuka-Trio) Carib Pidgin–Arawak Mixed Language Catalangu Chinook Jargon Delaware Jargon (also known as Pidgin Delaware) Eskimo Trade Jargon (also known as Herschel Island Eskimo Pidgin, Ship's Jargon) Greenlandic Pidgin (West Greenlandic Pidgin) Guajiro-Spanish Güegüence-Nicarao Haida Jargon Inuktitut-English Pidgin (Quebec) Jargonized Powhatan Labrador Eskimo Pidgin (also known as Labrador Inuit Pidgin) Lingua Franca Apalachee Lingua Franca Creek Lingua Geral Amazônica
Lingua Geral Amazônica
(also known as Nheengatú, Lingua Boa, Lingua Brasílica, Lingua Geral do Norte) Lingua Geral do Sul (also known as Lingua Geral Paulista, Tupí Austral) Loucheux Jargon (also known as Jargon Loucheux) Media Lengua Mednyj Aleut (also known as Copper Island Aleut, Medniy Aleut, CIA) Michif
(also known as French Cree, Métis, Metchif, Mitchif, Métchif) Mobilian Jargon
Mobilian Jargon
(also known as Mobilian Trade Jargon, Chickasaw-Chocaw Trade Language, Yamá) Montagnais Pidgin Basque (also known as Pidgin Basque-Montagnais) Nootka Jargon (spoken during the 18th-19th centuries; later replaced by Chinook Jargon) Ocaneechi (also known as Occaneechee; spoken in Virginia and the Carolinas in early colonial times) Pidgin Massachusett Plains Indian Sign Language

See also[edit]

Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
portal Indigenous peoples of North America portal

Amerind languages Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas Haplogroup Q-M242 (Y-DNA) Indigenous peoples of the Americas Language families and languages Languages of Peru List of endangered languages in Canada List of endangered languages in Mexico List of endangered languages in the United States List of endangered languages with mobile apps List of indigenous languages in Argentina Mesoamerican languages Native American Languages Act of 1990


^ Greenberg, Joseph (1987). Language in the Americas. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1315-3.  ^ Campbell, Lyle (2000). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534983-2. , page 253 ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (15th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com) ^ Wichmann, Soren (2006). "Mayan Historical Linguistics and Epigraphy: A New Synthesis". Annual Review of Anthropology. 35: 279–294. doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123257.  ^ Shapiro, Judith (1987). "From Tupã to the Land without Evil: The Christianization of Tupi-Guarani Cosmology". American Ethnologist. 1 (14): 126–139. doi:10.1525/ae.1987.14.1.02a00080.  ^ Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian languages: the historical linguistics of Native America. Ch. 3 The Origin of American Indian Languages, pp. 90–106. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1. ^ Blench, Roger. (2008) Accounting for the Diversity of Amerindian Languages: Modelling the Settlement of the New World. Paper presented at the Archaeology Research Seminar, RSPAS, Canberra, Australia. ^ If the Caucasus
is considered to be a part of Europe, Northwest Caucasian and Northeast Caucasian would be included resulting in five language families within Europe. Other language families, such as the Turkic, Mongolic, Afroasiatic families have entered Europe in later migrations. ^ Nater 1984, pg. 5 ^ Ruhlen, Merritt. (1991 [1987]). A Guide to the World's Languages Volume 1: Classification, p.216. Edward Arnold. Paperback: ISBN 0-340-56186-6. ^ Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian languages: the historical linguistics of Native America. Ch. 8 Distant Genetic Relationships, pp. 260–329. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1. ^ American-Arctic–Paleosiberian Phylum, Luoravetlan – and beyond ^ Macro-Mayan includes Mayan, Totonacan, Mixe–Zoquean, and sometimes Huave. ^ Siouan–Iroquoian–Caddoan–[Yuchi] ^ Alternatively Takelma–Kalapuyan


Bright, William. (1984). The classification of North American and Meso-American Indian languages. In W. Bright (Ed.), American Indian linguistics and literature (pp. 3–29). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Bright, William (Ed.). (1984). American Indian linguistics and literature. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-009846-6. Brinton, Daniel G. (1891). The American race. New York: D. C. Hodges. Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1. Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne (Eds.). (1979). The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment. Austin: University of Texas

North America[edit]

Boas, Franz. (1911). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 1). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology). Boas, Franz. (1922). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 2). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology). Boas, Franz. (1929). Classification of American Indian languages. Language, 5, 1–7. Boas, Franz. (1933). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 3). Native American legal materials collection, title 1227. Glückstadt: J.J. Augustin. Bright, William. (1973). North American Indian language contact. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Linguistics in North America (part 1, pp. 713–726). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton. Goddard, Ives (Ed.). (1996). Languages. Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9. Goddard, Ives. (1999). Native languages and language families of North America (rev. and enlarged ed. with additions and corrections). [Map]. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press (Smithsonian Institution). (Updated version of the map in Goddard 1996). ISBN 0-8032-9271-6. Goddard, Ives. (2005). The indigenous languages of the southeast. Anthropological Linguistics, 47 (1), 1–60. Mithun, Marianne. (1990). Studies of North American Indian Languages. Annual Review of Anthropology, 19(1): 309–330. Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X. Nater, Hank F. (1984). The Bella Coola Language. Mercury Series; Canadian Ethnology Service (No. 92). Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. Powell, John W. (1891). Indian linguistic families of America north of Mexico. Seventh annual report, Bureau of American Ethnology (pp. 1–142). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. (Reprinted in P. Holder (Ed.), 1966, Introduction to Handbook of American Indian languages by Franz Boas and Indian linguistic families of America, north of Mexico, by J. W. Powell, Lincoln: University of Nebraska). Powell, John W. (1915). Linguistic families of American Indians north of Mexico by J. W. Powell, revised by members of the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology. (Map). Bureau of American Ethnology miscellaneous publication (No. 11). Baltimore: Hoen. Sebeok, Thomas A. (Ed.). (1973). Linguistics in North America (parts 1 & 2). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton. (Reprinted as Sebeok 1976). Sebeok, Thomas A. (Ed.). (1976). Native languages of the Americas. New York: Plenum. Sherzer, Joel. (1973). Areal linguistics in North America. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Linguistics in North America (part 2, pp. 749–795). Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 10). The Hauge: Mouton. (Reprinted in Sebeok 1976). Sherzer, Joel. (1976). An areal-typological study of American Indian languages north of Mexico. Amsterdam: North-Holland. Sletcher, Michael, 'North American Indians', in Will Kaufman and Heidi Macpherson, eds., Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, (2 vols., Oxford, 2005). Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). (1978–present). Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 1–20). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. (Vols. 1–3, 16, 18–20 not yet published). Vaas, Rüdiger: 'Die Sprachen der Ureinwohner'. In: Stoll, Günter, Vaas, Rüdiger: Spurensuche im Indianerland. Hirzel. Stuttgart 2001, chapter 7. Voegelin, Carl F.; & Voegelin, Florence M. (1965). Classification of American Indian languages. Languages of the world, Native American fasc. 2, sec. 1.6). Anthropological Linguistics, 7 (7): 121-150. Zepeda, Ofelia; Hill, Jane H. (1991). The condition of Native American Languages in the United States. In R. H. Robins & E. M. Uhlenbeck (Eds.), Endangered languages (pp. 135–155). Oxford: Berg.

South America[edit]

Adelaar, Willem F. H.; & Muysken, Pieter C. (2004). The languages of the Andes. Cambridge language surveys. Cambridge University Press. Fabre, Alain. (1998). "Manual de las lenguas indígenas sudamericanas, I-II". München: Lincom Europa. Kaufman, Terrence. (1990). Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages (pp. 13–67). Austin: University of Texas
Press. ISBN 0-292-70414-3. Kaufman, Terrence. (1994). The native languages of South America. In C. Mosley & R. E. Asher (Eds.), Atlas of the world's languages (pp. 46–76). London: Routledge. Key, Mary R. (1979). The grouping of South American languages. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. Loukotka, Čestmír. (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: Latin American Studies Center, University of California. Mason, J. Alden. (1950). The languages of South America. In J. Steward (Ed.), Handbook of South American Indians (Vol. 6, pp. 157–317). Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin (No. 143). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Migliazza, Ernest C.; & Campbell, Lyle. (1988). Panorama general de las lenguas indígenas en América. Historia general de América (Vol. 10). Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia. Rodrigues, Aryon. (1986). Linguas brasileiras: Para o conhecimento das linguas indígenas. São Paulo: Edições Loyola. Rowe, John H. (1954). Linguistics classification problems in South America. In M. B. Emeneau (Ed.), Papers from the symposium on American Indian linguistics (pp. 10–26). University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 10). Berkeley: University of California
Press. Sapir, Edward. (1929). Central and North American languages. In The encyclopædia britannica: A new survey of universal knowledge (14 ed.) (Vol. 5, pp. 138–141). London: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company, Ltd. Voegelin, Carl F.; & Voegelin, Florence M. (1977). Classification and index of the world's languages. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 0-444-00155-7. Debian North American Indigenous Languages Project

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Native American languages.

Catálogo de línguas indígenas sul-americanas Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos Towards a general typology of South American indigenous languages. A bibliographical database South American Languages Society to Advance Indigenous Vernaculars of the United States (SAIVUS) Indigenous Peoples Languages: Articles, News, Videos Documentation Center of the Linguistic Minorities of Panama The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America Indigenous Language Institute The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) Southern Oregon
Digital Archives First Nations Tribal Collection (collection of ethnographic, linguistic, & historical material) Center for the Study of the Native Languages of the Plains and Southwest Project for the Documentation of the Languages of Mesoamerica Programa de Formación en Educación Intercultural Bilingüe para los Países Andinos Native American Language Center (University of California
at Davis) Native Languages of the Americas International Journal of American Linguistics Our Languages (Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre) Swadesh Lists of Brazilian Native Languages

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Abenaki Algonquin Blackfoot Cree Innu Malecite-Passamaquoddy Mi'kmaq Munsee Naskapi Ojibwe Ottawa Potawatomi


Babine-Witsuwit'en Carrier Chilcotin Chipewyan Dogrib Gwich’in Hän Kaska Nicola Sarcee Sekani Slavey Tagish Tahltan Tutchone


Inuinnaqtun Inuktitut Inupiaq Inuvialuktun


Cayuga Mohawk Oneida Onondaga Seneca Tuscarora Wyandot


Bella Coola Comox Halkomelem Lillooet Okanagan Saanich Sechelt Shuswap Squamish Thompson


Ditidaht Haisla Heiltsuk-Oowekyala Kwak'wala Nuu-chah-nulth


Beothuk Haida Kutenai Tlingit Coast Tsimshian

Pidgins, creoles and mixed

Broken Slavey Bungee Chiac Chinook Jargon Labrador Inuit Pidgin French Michif

Immigrant languages

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Sign languages

American Sign Language Quebec Sign Language Inuk Sign Language Plains Indian Sign Language Maritime Sign Language

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Languages in italics are extinct.


Dialects of American English

African-American English Appalachian English Baltimore English Boston English Cajun English California
English Chicano English Eastern New England English General American
General American
English High Tider English Inland Northern American English Miami English Mid-Atlantic American / Delaware Valley English Maine English Midland American English New England Englishes New Mexican Englishes New Orleans English New York City English New York Latino English Northern American English North-Central American English Ozark English Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
English Pennsylvania Dutch English Philadelphia English Puerto Rican English Southern American English Texan English Tidewater English Transatlantic English Upper Michigan English Western American English Western New England English Western Pennsylvania English Yeshiva English

Oral Indigenous Languages



Abenaki Anishinnabemowin Arapaho Blackfoot Cheyenne Cree Fox Gros Ventre Mahican Massachusett Menominee Mi'kmaq Mohegan-Pequot Munsee Myaamia Nanticoke Narragansett Pamlico Potawatomi Powhatan Quiripi Shawnee Unami

Etchemin Loup Nawathinehena


Chamorro Hawaiian Refaluwasch Samoan Tokelauan


Arikara Caddo Wichita



Kathlamet Tsinúk Upper Chinook


Barbareño Cruzeño Obispeño Purisimeño Ventureño

Dené– Yeniseian

Ahtna Deg Xinag Dena'ina Gwich’in Hän Hupa Jicarilla Koyukon Lower Tanana Mescalero-Chiricahua Navajo Tanacross Tolowa Upper Kuskokwim Upper Tanana Western Apache

Cahto Eyak Holikachuk Kwalhioqua-Clatskanie Lipan Mattole Plains Apache Tsetsaut Tututni Upper Umpqua Wailaki


Inuit Inupiat Aleut Alutiiq Central Alaskan Yup'ik Central Siberian Yupik Chevak Cup’ik


Cayuga Cherokee Mohawk Oneida Onondaga Osage Seneca Tuscarora Wyandot

Erie Neutral Huron Nottoway Susquehannock Wenrohronon


Central Kalapuya Northern Kalapuya Yoncalla


Cochiti Pueblo San Felipe–Santo Domingo Zia–Santa Ana Pueblos Western Keres Acoma Pueblo Laguna Pueblo


Konkow Maidu Nisenan



Alabama Chickasaw Choctaw Koasati Mikasuki Muscogee





Plateau Penutian

Nez Perce Sahaptin

Klamath Molala


Central Pomo Eastern Pomo Kashaya Southeastern Pomo Southern Pomo

Northeastern Pomo Northern Pomo


Coeur d'Alene Columbia-Moses Halkomelem Klallam Lushootseed Nooksack North Straits Salish Okanagan Salish Thompson Twana

Cowlitz Lower Chehalis Quinault Tillamook Upper Chehalis


Assiniboine Crow Dakota Hidatsa Kansa Lakota Mandan Omaha–Ponca Quapaw Stoney Winnebago

Biloxi Catawba Chiwere Mitchigamea Moneton Ofo Tutelo-Saponi Woccon


Jemez Kiowa Picuris Southern Tiwa Taos Tewa

Piro Pueblo


Coast Tsimshian


Comanche Hopi Ivilyuat Kawaiisu Kitanemuk Luiseño Mono Northern Paiute O'odham Serrano Shoshoni Timbisha Tübatulabal Ute-Chemehuevi Yaqui

Cupeño Tongva




Nomlaki Patwin Wintu


Central Sierra Miwok Southern Sierra Miwok Tule-Kaweah Yokuts Valley Yokuts

Bay Miwok Buena Vista Yokuts Coast Miwok Gashowu Yokuts Kings River Yokuts Lake Miwok Northern Sierra Miwok Palewyami Plains Miwok

Yuman– Cochimí

Cocopah Havasupai–Hualapai Ipai Kumeyaay Maricopa Mojave Quechan Tiipai Yavapai



Haida Karuk Kutenai Siuslaw Washo Yuchi Zuni

Chitimacha Tonkawa

Mixed or Trade Languages

Chinook Jargon Michif

Mohawk Dutch

Manual Indigenous languages

Hand Talk

Anishinaabe Sign Language Blackfoot Sign Language Cheyenne Sign Language Cree Sign Language Navajo Sign Language

Plateau Sign Language


Hawai'i Sign Language Inuk Sign Language Keresan Pueblo Navajo Family Sign Language

Oral settler languages



Cajun Colonial

Métis Missouri Muskrat New England


Pennsylvania Dutch Hutterite Plautdietsch Bernese Alsatian Texas


Caló (Chicano) New Mexican Puerto Rican Isleño

Manual settler languages


American Sign Language Black American Sign Language Pro-Tactile American Sign Language Puerto Rican Sign Language


Samoan Sign Language


Martha's Vineyard Sign Language


Sandy River Valley Sign Language Henniker Sign Language

Immigrant languages (number of speakers in 2010 in millions)

Spanish (37) Varieties of Chinese (3) French (2) Tagalog (1.6) Vietnamese (1.4) German (1.1) Korean (1.1) Arabic (0.9) Russian (0.9) Italian (0.7) Portuguese (0.7) Polish (0.6) Hindi (0.6) Persian (0.4) Urdu (0.4) Gujarati (0.4) Japanese (0.4) Greek (0.3) Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language in the United States
United States
(0.3) Armenian (0.2) Khmer (0.2) Hmong (0.2) Hebrew (0.2) Laotian (0.2) Yiddish (0.2)

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