Ventureño language

Ventureño is a member of the extinct Chumashan languages, a group of Native American languages previously spoken by the Chumash people along the coastal areas of Southern California from as far north as San Luis Obispo to as far south as Malibu. Ventureño was spoken from as far north as present-day Ventura to as far south as present-day Malibu and the Simi Hills, California. Dialects probably also included Castac and Alliklik.[1]

Native toUnited States
RegionSouthern Californian coastal areas
Extinctmid-20th century
  • Southern
    • Central
      • Ventureño
Language codes
ISO 639-3veo
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Ventureño is, like its sister Chumashan languages, a polysynthetic language, having larger words composed of a number of morphemes. Ventureño has separate word classes of verb, noun, and oblique adjunct; with no separate word class for adjectives or adpositions.[2] Nouns and verbs are often heavily affixed (mostly prefixed) in Ventureño, affixing being a way to denote those meanings often conveyed by separate words in more analytic languages. Verbs play a primary role in Ventureño with utterances often composed only of a verb with clitics. Chumash word order is VSO/VOS, or VS/VO.[3]


Ventureño has a similar phonemic inventory to other Chumash languages. Ventureño consists of 30 consonants and 6 vowels.[4]


Ventureño consists of a regular 5-vowel inventory with a sixth vowel transcribed as ə.[4] In Barbareño transcriptions, ɨ is used. It is not known whether these two phones are the same in both languages (and the difference in transcription merely one of convention), or whether the sounds were in fact different enough for Harrington to use different symbols.

Front Central Back
Close i ə u
Mid e o
Open a


Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar/
Velar Uvular Glottal
plain sibilant
plain p t t͡s t͡ʃ k q ʔ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ
aspirated t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ
Fricative plain s ʃ x h
aspirated ʃʰ
Lateral l (ɬ)1
Sonorant plain m n j w


Ventureño has been written in several different ways by different linguists.[4] John Peabody Harrington, who compiled most of the data on Ventureño, used a modified version of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Harrington differed from the International Phonetic Alphabet in the following symbols: a kappa ⟨к⟩ (small-cap 'k') for [q], a ⟨q⟩ for [x], a slanted bar ⟨ł⟩ for [ɬ], a reversed apostrophe ⟨‘⟩ for aspiration, and a right-turned (standard) apostrophe ⟨’⟩ for a glottal stop (this symbol was also used for ejectives and glottalized sonorants).[5]

The Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians has adopted an Americanist form of transcription for Ventureño based on the work done by Harrington: ⟨š⟩ for [ʃ], ⟨ł⟩ for [ɬ], ⟨x⟩ for [x], ⟨ʰ⟩ for aspiration, ⟨y⟩ for [j], and ⟨q⟩ for [q]. A standard apostrophe ⟨’⟩ continues to be used for a glottal stop [ʔ] and for denoting ejectives. Glottalized sonorants [m̰, n̰, w̰, j̰] are written with a combining apostrophe over the symbol. This transcription is in keeping with most current Chumashists (such as Wash below) except that alveolar affricates ([t͡s]) are written as ⟨ts⟩ in Ventureño, where other Chumashists write them as ⟨c⟩. Likewise, Ventureño writes postalveolar affricates ([t͡ʃ]) as ⟨tš⟩, where other Chumashists write this sound as ⟨č⟩.


Chumash morphology is fairly polysynthetic. This applies especially to the verbs of the language, which has over 15 distinct morphological slots (when counting nominalized verbs). This is illustrated in the table below by the nominalized verb meaning "your wanting to make fun of us".















make fun of





lo- si- p- ʔal- suya- su- qoniš -pi -iyiyuw

DEM- ART- 2- NZ- DES- CAUS- {make fun of} -APL.LOC -1PL.REDUP

"your wanting to make fun of us"


The Chumash languages exhibit a quaternary numeral system.[5][6][7] The numbers 1–16 exhibit certain characteristics which are different from the method of counting from 17 to 32. In all places, however, the multiple of 4 usually has a unique term. Ventureño Chumash has the most complete, native Chumash system of numbers on record.

1 pakeʼet 2 ʼiškom̓ 3 masǝx 4 tskumu
5 yǝtipake’es 6 yǝti’iškom̓ 7 yǝtimasǝx 8 malawa
9 tspa 10 ka’aškom 11 tǝlu 12 masǝx tskumu
13 masǝx tskumu kampake’et 14 ’iškom̓ laliet 15 pake’et siwe (tšikipš) 16 tšikipš
17 tšikipš kampake’et 18 ’iškom̓ siwe tskumu’uy 19 pake’et siwe tskumu’uy 20 tskumu’uy
21 tskumu’uy kampake’et 22 ’iškom̓ siwe itsmaxmasǝx 23 pake’et siwe itsmaxmasǝx 24 itsmaxmasǝx
25 itsmaxmasǝx kampake’et 26 ’iškom̓ siwe yitimasǝx 27 pake’et siwe yitimasǝx 28 yitimasǝx
29 yitimasǝx kampake’et 30 ’iškom̓ siwe ’iškom̓ tšikipš 31 pake’et siwe ’iškom̓ tšikipš 32 ’iškom̓ tšikipš


  1. ^ Campbell 1997:126[full citation needed]
  2. ^ Wash, Suzanne M. (2001). Adverbial Clauses in Barbareño Chumash Narrative Discourse. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara.
  3. ^ Dryer, M. S. (1997). "On the Six-Way Word Order Typology, Studies in Language". 21 (1): 69–103. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b c Henry, Timothy P. (2012). A Pedagogical Grammar of Ventureño Chumash: Implementing Grammatical Theory in Grammar Writing. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara.
  5. ^ a b Harrington, J. P. (1981). The Papers of John Peabody Harrington in the Smithsonian 1907-1957: A Guide to the Field Notes: Native American History, Language, and Culture of Southern California/Basin, vol. 3. Elaine L. Mills and Ann J. Brockfield, eds. Microfilm reels 69, 89, and 94 on Ventureño.
  6. ^ Beeler, Madison S. (1964). "Ventureño Numerals". Studies in Californian Linguistics. 34: 13–18.
  7. ^ Beeler, Madison S. (1986). Michael P. Closs (ed.). Chumashan Numerals. Native American Mathematics. ISBN 0-292-75531-7.

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