The Serrano language (Serrano : Maarrênga'twich) is a language in the Serran branch of the Uto-Aztecan family spoken by the Serrano people of Southern California. The language is closely related to Tongva, Kitanemuk and Vanyume.
According to Ethnologue, there was 1 speaker in 1994. The last fully fluent speaker was Dorothy Ramon, who died in 2002. During the last years of Dorothy Ramon's life, she worked with linguist Eric Elliot. Together they wrote a book named Wayta' Yawa' (Always Believe). This book was written in Serrano and in English which talks about the Serrano culture and the life of Dorothy Ramon, which in turned saved the Serrano language from complete extinction. After Dorothy Ramon's death, the language is now considered extinct, however revitalization efforts have allowed the language to survive in some form.
Traditionally referring to themselves as Yuhaviatam meaning "people of the pines," the Serrano people originally occupied the area near the Mojave River and San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. In 1891 the United States established the San Manuel Reservation for the Serrano people where many of its last speakers lived. In 1967, Researcher Kenneth Cushman Hill noted that about 6 people still spoke the now dormant language.
See also: Serrano People
The language was at a time considered to be extinct but there are attempts at reviving it. Both at the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and Morongo Band of Mission Indians reservations there are efforts not underway to teach the language and the history and culture of the Serrano people. Language teacher Pauline Murillo helped develop an interactive CD ROM for learning Serrano. As of 2013, apps and games have been developed, and the San Manuel Band's Serrano Language Revitalization Project (SLRP) seeks to develop further multimedia resources for language learners. In May 2013, Cal State San Bernardino announced it would offer Serrano language classes to its students.
The Limu project offers online courses in Maarrênga' (Morongo Band "Serrano" dialect) and Yuhaviat (San Manuel Band "Serrano" dialect).
The Endangered Languages Project lists Serrano as in the "Awakening" stage, meaning that the language has lost its native and fluent speakers and can be considered "extinct" but has revitalization projects underway to preserve knowledge of the language and the Serrano people.
University of California, Los Angeles provides a recording of a Serrano speaker reading a word list here.
In 1967, the language of Serrano was charted as having 33 consonants and 9 vowels in its phonetic form.
A full grammar of the Serrano language can be found here.
Vowels /ɨ/, /a/, /o/, can be rhoticized as /ɨ˞/, /a˞/, /o˞/.