Chumashan (meaning "Santa Cruz Islander") is a family of languages that were spoken on the southern California coast by Native American Chumash people, from the Coastal plains and valleys of San Luis Obispo to Malibu, neighboring inland and Transverse Ranges valleys and canyons east to bordering the San Joaquin Valley, to three adjacent Channel Islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz.
|southern coastal California|
|Extinct||since the 1960s|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
Pre-contact distribution of Chumashan languages
The Chumashan languages may be, along with Yukian and perhaps languages of southern Baja such as Waikuri, one of the oldest language families established in California, before the arrival of speakers of Penutian, Uto-Aztecan, and perhaps even Hokan languages. Chumashan, Yukian, and southern Baja languages are spoken in areas with long-established populations of a distinct physical type. The population in the core Chumashan area has been stable for the past 10,000 years. However, the attested range of Chumashan is recent (within a couple thousand years). There is internal evidence that Obispeño replaced a Hokan language and that Island Chumash mixed with a language very different from Chumashan; the islands were not in contact with the mainland until the introduction of plank canoes in the first millennium AD.
All of the Chumashan languages are now extinct, although they are well documented in the unpublished fieldnotes of linguist John Peabody Harrington. Especially well documented are Barbareño, Ineseño, and Ventureño. The last native speaker of a Chumashan language was Barbareño speaker Mary Yee, who died in 1965.
Six Chumashan languages are attested, all now extinct. However, most of them are in the process of revitalization, with language programs and classes. Contemporary Chumash people now prefer to refer to their languages by native names rather than the older names based on the local missions.
I. Northern Chumash
- 1. Obispeño (also known as Northern Chumash) (†)
- Also known as Tilhini by students of the language, after the name of the major village near which the mission was founded.
II. Southern Chumash
- a. Island Chumash (mixed with non-Chumash)
- b. Central Chumash
- 3. Purisimeño (†)
- 4. Samala (Ineseño) (†)
- Also spelled Sʰamala, spoken by the Santa Ynez Band.
- 5. Šmuwič (Barbareño) (†)
- Also spelled Shmuwich by students of the language and community members. This is the name for the language and the people; it means "coastal."
- 6. Mitsqanaqa'n (Ventureño) (†)
- Students of the language and community members renamed the language after the name of a major village near which the mission was founded.
Obispeño was the most divergent Chumashan language. The Central Chumash languages include Purisimeño, Ineseño, Barbareño and Ventureño. There was a dialect continuum across this area, but the form of the language spoken in the vicinity of each mission was distinct enough to qualify as a different language.
There is very little documentation of Purisimeño. Ineseño, Barbareño and Ventureño each had several dialects, although documentation usually focused on just one. Island Chumash had different dialects on Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island, but all speakers were relocated to the mainland in the early 19th century. John Peabody Harrington conducted fieldwork on all the above Chumashan languages, but obtained the least data on Island Chumash, Purisimeño, and Obispeño. There is no linguistic data on Cuyama, though ethnographic data suggests that it was likely Chumash (Interior Chumash).
- Obispeño—Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
- Purisimeño—Mission La Purísima Concepción
- Ineseño—Mission Santa Inés
- Barbareño—Mission Santa Barbara
- Ventureño—Mission San Buenaventura
Roland Dixon and Alfred L. Kroeber suggested that the Chumashan languages might be related to the neighboring Salinan in a Iskoman grouping. Edward Sapir accepted this speculation and included Iskoman in his classification of Hokan. More recently it has been noted that Salinan and Chumashan shared only one word, which the Chumashan languages probably borrowed from Salinan (the word meant 'white clam shell' and was used as currency). As a result, the inclusion of Chumashan into Hokan is now disfavored by most specialists, and the consensus is that Chumashan has no identified linguistic relatives.
The Central Chumash languages all have a symmetrical six-vowel system. The distinctive high central vowel is written various ways, including <ɨ> "barred I," <ə> "schwa" and <ï> "I umlaut." Contemporary users of the languages favor /ɨ/ or /ə/.
Striking features of this system include
- Low-vowel harmony within morphemes: Within a single morpheme, adjacent low vowels match: they are both or all front /e/, central /a/ or back /o/. Pan-Central examples:
- expeč "to sing" — I/B/V
- ʼosos "heel" — I/B/V
- ʼasas "chin" — I/B/V
- Low-vowel harmony as a process: Many prefixes include a low vowel which shows up as /a/ when the vowel of the following syllable is high. When the vowel of the following syllable is low, the vowel of the prefix assimilates to (or "harmonizes" with) the front-central-back quality of the following vowel. The verb prefix kal- "of cutting" illustrates this process in the following Barbareño examples, where the /l/ may drop out:
- kamasix "to cut into three pieces" — kal- + masix "three"
- keseqen "to cut out" — kal- + seqen "to remove"
- qoloq " to make or bore a hole, cut a hole in — kal- + loq "to be perforated"
- katun "to cut into two pieces" — kal- + =tun "of two, being two"
The Central Chumash languages have a complex inventory of consonants. All of the consonants except /h/ can be glottalized; all of the consonants except /h/, /x/ and the liquids can be aspirated.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2015)
|Reconstruction of||Chumashan languages|
Proto-Chumash reconstructions by Klar (1977):
no. gloss Proto-Chumash Proto-Southern Chumash notes 1 advise, to *si/umun 2 all *yimlaʔ 3 alone *l-ho 4 already *kVla- 5 ant *tkaya’ plus sound symbolism 6 armpit *ti/uq’olo(lo) stem: *q'olo(lo) 7 arrive *ki/um 8 arrow *ya' 9 arroyo *l’VmV 10 ascend *-nVpa 11 ashamed, to be *-nos- 12 ashes *qSa 13 ask, to *-VsqVnV 14 back (body part) *mVtV’ 15 ball *-apapa reduplicated stem 16 bat (animal) *mVkala 17 bathe, to *k-ep’ 18 bear (animal) *qus 19 bee *olo plus sound symbolism 20 begin, to *-nVna’ reduplicated stem? 21 blow, to *aq-(tV)-p-; *-kVt *-wu- 22 boil, to *-wi- 23 bone *Se 24 bow (noun) *aqa 25 break, to *k’oto; *eqe 26 breast *kVtet 27 breathe; breath *kal-haS; *-haS 28 bring, to *kVlhi 29 burn, to *qi/ut 30 cost, to *piw’ 31 carry, to *kum 32 carry on back, to *sVpV 33 cheek *po' 34 chest (body part) *kVwV 35 chia *’epV- 36 canoe *tomolo 37 clitoris *Cele ~ *C’ele 38 cold, to feel *toqom ~ *qotom 39 comb, to *ti/ukikS 40 come, to *yit-i; *VlhVw 41 concerned with, to be *tak 42 cooked *pSel 43 cough, to *oqoqo- reduplicated stem; onomatopoetic 44 cover, to *Vqmay 45 crack, split, to *-eqe 46 cut, to *’iwa plus reduplication 47 dark-colored, to be *Soy 48 day *qSi; *-iSa- 49 deaf *tu’ 50 deep *l-hiy 51 die, to *qSa 52 dirt *uyu 53 drink; thirsty, to be *aq-mihi-l-ha; *o- 54 ear *tu’ 55 earth *šup 56 eat, to *uw 57 eye, face *tVq 58 eyes, face, having to do with *weqe 59 far, to be *mVkV 60 fat *qilhi 61 fight, to *aqi/u 62 fire *ne 63 flower *pey’ 64 flea *-tep (Proto-Central Chumash) 65 fly (insect) *axulpes 66 follow, to *pey 67 food (cf. eat) *uw- *uw- 'eat' plus *-mu (nominalizing suffix) 68 foot *teme’ 69 forget, to *may 70 full from eating, to be *qti’ 71 get up, to *kVta’ 72 gopher snake *pSoSo reduplicated stem 73 grasshopper *ti/uqu root: *-qu 74 gull sp. *miyV 75 hair, fur *SuSV reduplicated stem? 76 hand *pu 77 hang, to *wayan ~ *waya 78 hear, to *taq 79 heel *’ososo reduplicated stem 80 hello (greeting) *haku 81 hole *loq 82 hole, cave, den *Si ~ *SiSV 83 homosexual, to be *’aqi’ 84 jimson weed *mom’oy from *moy 85 knee *pVm’V 86 knife *’iw 87 lie down, to *toy’ ~ *ton’ 88 liver *c-al’a 89 look, to *kuti ~ *kuti’ 90 louse *Seke 91 low tide *qVw 92 many, much *equ 93 meat, body *’Vmin’ 94 moist, to be *so’ 95 money; clam sp. *’ala-qu-Cum ~ *’ana-qu-Cum *Cum is the root 96 mosquito *pewe(we)’ 97 mother-in-law *mVSV 98 mountain lion *tVkem’ 99 mouse *qlo plus reduplication 100 mouth *’Vk 101 name *ti 102 neck *ni’ 103 necklace *el’ 104 nerve *pilhil 105 nest *patV ~ *patV’ 106 new, to be *VmVn 107 now *kipV(’) 108 oak spp. *kuwu(’) 109 one-eyed, to be *ta’ 110 open, to *kal 111 overcast, to be *iqVmay 112 pelican *sew 113 person *ku 114 pet *qo’ 115 pick up, lift, raise *lay 116 prickly pear *qV’ 117 quail *takaka onomatopoetic 118 rabbit/jackrabbit *ma’; *kuni’ 119 rain, to *tuhuy ~ *tuy 120 red *qupe 121 roadrunner *pu’ 122 rub, to *muy 123 salt *tepu(’) ~ *tipu(’) 124 save (rescue), to *apay 125 seed *’VmVn’ 126 skunk *tVqema 127 smoke *tuwo’ 128 snail, sea *q’VmV’ 129 speak, say, to *’ipi(’) 130 split-stick rattle *wanS-aq’a ~ *wacs-aq’a 131 spread open *kek-an 132 squirrel, ground *emet’ ~ *em’et’ 133 steps *tVyV- 134 stick to, to *pey ~ *pey’ 135 sticky, to be *pilhiy 136 stone, rock *qVpV 137 straight *tyiyeme ? 138 swordfish *’eleyewun’ 139 tadpole *qlo ~ *qyo root: 'small creature' (cf. mouse) 140 tail *telheq’ 141 take off, to *qe 142 tears *tinik’ 143 tongue *’elhew’ 144 tooth *Sa 145 urinate, to *Sol’ 146 vomit *paS(V) 147 walk, to - 148 warm self, to *mol 149 water *’o’ 150 whale *paqat(V) 151 wood, tree, stick *pono’ 152 woodpecker *pVlak’a(k’) 153 wrinkled *Sok’ plus reduplication 154 yawn *San plus reduplication 155 yellow jacket *ɨyɨ ~ *ɨyɨ’
- Grant 1978
- Golla, Victor. (2011). California Indian Languages. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-5202-6667-4
- Dixon and Kroeber 1913
- Sapir 1917
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- Mithun 1999:390
- Mithun 1999:390-392
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