Shawnee language

Shawnee
Sawanwa, Savannah, Sewanee, Shawano
Native toUnited States
RegionCentral and Northeast Oklahoma
EthnicityShawnee[1]
Native speakers
260 and decreasing (2015)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3sjw
Glottologshaw1249
ELPShawnee
Shawnee lang.png
Distribution of the Shawnee language around 1650

The Shawnee language is a Central Algonquian language spoken in parts of central and northeastern Oklahoma by the Shawnee people. It was originally spoken by these people in a broad territory throughout the Eastern United States, mostly north of the Ohio River. They occupied territory in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

Shawnee is closely related to other Algonquian languages, such as Mesquakie-Sauk (Sac and Fox) and Kickapoo. It has 260 speakers, according to a 2015 census,[1] although the number is decreasing. It is a polysynthetic language with rather free word ordering.[2]

Status

Shawnee is severely threatened, as many speakers have shifted to English. The approximately 200 remaining speakers are older adults.[1] Some of the decline in usage of Shawnee is the result of the assimilation program carried out by Indian boarding schools, which abused, starved, and beat children who spoke their native language. This treatment often extended to the family of those children as well.

Of the 2,000 members of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe around the city of Shawnee, more than 100 are speakers; of the 1,500 members of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in Ottawa County, only a few elders are speakers; of the 8,000 members of the Loyal Shawnee in the Cherokee region of Oklahoma around Whiteoak, there are fewer than 12 speakers.[1] Because of such low figures and the percentage of elderly speakers, Shawnee is classified as an endangered language. Additionally, development outside of the home has been limited. Apart from a dictionary and portions of the Bible translated from 1842 to 1929,[1] there is little literature or technology support for Shawnee.

Language revitalization

Absentee-Shawnee Elder George Blanchard, Sr, former governor of his tribe, teaches classes to Headstart and elementary school children, as well as evening classes for adults, at the Cultural Preservation Center in Seneca, Missouri. His work was profiled on the PBS show The American Experience in 2009.[3] The classes are intended to encourage use of Shawnee among families at home. The Eastern Shawnee have also taught language classes.[4]

Conversational Shawnee booklets and CDs, and a Learn Shawnee Language website are available.[5][6]

Phonology

Vowels

Shawnee has six vowels,[2] three of which are high, and three are low.

FrontCentralBack
Closei ⟨i⟩ iː ⟨ii⟩
Mide ⟨e⟩o ⟨o⟩
Opena ⟨a⟩ aː ⟨aa⟩

In Shawnee, /i/ tends to be realized as [ɪ], and /e/ tended to be pronounced [ɛ].[2]

In (1) and (2), a near minimal pair has been found for Shawnee /i/ and /ii/. In (3) and (4), a minimal pair has been found for Shawnee /a/ and /aa/.

(1) ho-wiisi'-ta 'he was in charge'

(2) wi 'si 'dog'

(3) caaki yaama 'all this'

(4) caki 'small' [2]

However, no quantitative contrasts have been found in the vowels /e/ and /o/.

Consonants

Shawnee consonants are shown in the chart below.

LabialAlveolarPalatalVelarGlottal
Plosivep ⟨p⟩t ⟨t⟩ ⟨ch⟩k ⟨k⟩ k:ʔ ⟨ʔ⟩
Fricativeθ ⟨th⟩ʃ ⟨sh⟩h ⟨h⟩
Laterall ⟨l⟩
Nasalm ⟨m⟩n ⟨n⟩
Semivowelw ⟨w⟩j ⟨y⟩

/k/ and /kk/ contrast in the verbal affixes -ki (which marks third person singular animate objects) and -kki (which marks third person plural animate objects).

The Shawnee /θ/ is most often derived from Proto-Algonquian *s.[7]: 16 

Some speakers of Shawnee pronounce /ʃ/ more like an alveolar [s]. This pronunciation is especially common among Loyal Band Shawnee speakers near Vinita, Oklahoma.

/ʔ/ and /h/ are allophones of the same phoneme: /ʔ/ occurs in syllable final position, while /h/ occurs at the beginning of a syllable.[2]

Stress

Stress in Shawnee falls on the final syllable (ultima) of a word.

Consonant length[2]

In Shawnee phonology, consonant length is contrastive. Words may not begin with vowels, and between a morpheme ending with a vowel and one starting with a vowel, a [y] is inserted. Shawnee does not allow word-final consonants and long vowels.

/k/ and /kk/ contrast in the following verbal affixes

ye-

SUB-

kkil

hide

-a

-DIR

-ki

-3sAO

ye- kkil -a -ki

SUB- hide -DIR -3sAO

when (I) hide him

ye-

SUB-

kkil

hide

-a

-DIR

-kki

-3pAO

ye- kkil -a -kki

SUB- hide -DIR -3pAO

when (I) hide them

These affixes (-ki, -kki) are object markers in the transitive animate subordinate mode. The subject is understood.

[h] Insertion[2]

∅→[h]/#____V
A word may not begin with a vowel. Instead, an on-glide [h] is added. For example:
There are two variants of the article "-oci", meaning from. It can attach to nouns to form prepositional phrases, or it can also be a preverb. When it attaches to a noun, it is "-ooci," and when attached to a preverb it is "-hoci."

naamin-ooci

Norman-from

naamin-ooci

Norman-from

from Norman

oklahooma

Oklahoma

niila

1

hoci-lenawe

from-live

oklahooma niila hoci-lenawe

Oklahoma 1 from-live

I'm from Oklahoma

/y/ Insertion[2]

∅→[y]/V(:)_____ V(:)

When one of the vowels is long, Shawnee allows for the insertion of [y].

ni-[t]aay-a

I-REDUP-go

ni-[t]aay-a

I-REDUP-go

'I went (repeatedly)'

Word-final Consonant Deletion[2]

C# → 0

A consonant is deleted at the end of a word.

In (a), a noun ends in a consonant when a locative suffix follows, but in (b), the consonant is deleted at word end.

(a)

wiikiw55p

house

-ski

-LOC

wiikiw55p -ski

house -LOC

'in the house'

(b)

wiikiwa

house

ho-

3-

staa

build

-ekw

-INV

-a

-DIR

-li

-3sOBV

kapenalee

governor

-li

-3sOBV

wiikiwa ho- staa -ekw -a -li kapenalee -li

house 3- build -INV -DIR -3sOBV governor -3sOBV

'The governor (obviative) built (him)

Word-final Vowel Shortening[2]

V:# → V#

A long vowel is shortened at the end of a word.

Morphology

Morpho-phonology[2]

Rule 1

t/V____V
[t] is inserted between two vowels at morpheme boundary.
As we know from the phonological rule stated above, a word may not begin with a vowel in Shawnee. From the morphophonological rule above, we can assume that [h]~[t].
example
"-eecini(i)" meaning Indian agent appears as "hina heecini" or that Indian agent, and as "ho-[t]eecinii-ma-waa-li, meaning he was their Indian agent. The [t] of "ho-[t]-" fills the open slot that would otherwise have to be filled with [h].

Rule 2

V1-V2-----> V2
A short vowel preceding another short vowel at a morpheme boundary is deleted.

hina

that

+

+

-ene

-Xtimes

( > hinene)

 

hina + -ene

that + -Xtimes

at that time period, then

melo'kami

spring

-eke

-LOC

( > melo'kameke)

 

melo'kami -eke

spring -LOC

in spring

Rule 3

V:V------> V:
When a long vowel and a short vowel come together at a morpheme boundary, the short vowel is deleted.

ho-

3-

staa

build

-ekw

-INV

-a

-DIR

-li

-3sOBV

( > ho-staa-koo-li)

 

ho- staa -ekw -a -li

3- build -INV -DIR -3sOBV

he built (him) (a house)

kaa-

REDUP-

ki-

PERF-

noot-en

hear-by.hand

-aa

-TI

-maa

-TA

-ekw

-INV

-a

-DIR

( > kaakinootenaamaakwa)

 

kaa- ki- noot-en -aa -maa -ekw -a

REDUP- PERF- hear-by.hand -TI -TA -INV -DIR

(he) signed by hand (to me) (repeatedly)

Shawnee shares many grammatical features with other Algonquian languages. There are two third persons, proximate and obviative, and two noun classes (or genders), animate and inanimate. It is primarily agglutinating typologically, and is polysynthetic, resulting in a great deal of information being encoded on the verb. The most common word order is Verb-Subject.

Affixes

stem-(instrumental affix)-transitivizing affix-object affix
The instrumental affix is not obligatory, but if it is present, it determines the type of transitivizing affix that can follow it, (see numbering scheme below) or by the last stem in the theme.
Instrumental affixes are as follows

Instrumental suffix
pw 'by mouth'
n 'by hand'
h(0) 'by heat'
hh 'by mechanical instrument'
l 'by projectile'
(h)t 'by vocal noise'
šk 'by feet in locomotion'
hšk 'by feet as agent'
lhk 'by legs'

Possessive paradigm: animate nouns

PossessorSingular nounPlural noun
1sni- + ROOTni- + ROOT + ki
2ski- + ROOTki- + ROOT + ki
3sho- + ROOTho- + ROOT + ki
4sho- + ROOT + liho- + ROOT + waa + li
1p (excl)ni- + ROOT + nani- + ROOT + naa + ki
2+1 (incl)ki- + ROOT + naki- + ROOT + naa + ki
2pki- + ROOT + waki- + ROOT + waa + ki
4pho- + ROOT + hiho- + ROOT + waa + hi

Possessive paradigm: inanimate nouns

-tθani (w)- 'bed'

PossessorSingular nounPlural noun
1sni- + t0anini- + t0aniw+ali
2ski- + t0aniki- + t0aniw+ali
3sho- + t0aniho- + t0aniw+ali
1p (excl)ni- + t0ane+nani- + t0ane+na
2+1 (incl)ki- + t0ane+naki- + t0ane+na
2pki- + t0ani+waki- + t0ani+wa
3pho- + t0ani+waho- + t0ani+wa
Locativet0an + eki(unattested)
Diminutivet0an + ehi

Grammar and syntax[2]

Word order

Shawnee has a fairly free word order, with VSO being the most common:

teki

NEG

koos

run.from

-i

-IMPER

-ma

-AO

teki koos -i -ma

NEG run.from -IMPER -AO

'run you from him' (in the negative) 'you mustn't run away from him'

SOV, SVO, VOS, and OVS are also plausible.

Grammatical categories

Parts of speech in the Algonquian languages, Shawnee included, show a basic division between inflecting forms (nouns, verbs and pronouns), and non-inflecting invariant forms (also known as particles). Directional particles ("piyeci" meaning "towards") incorporate into the verb itself. Although particles are invariant in form, they have different distributions and meanings that correspond to adverbs ("[hi]noki" meaning "now", "waapaki" meaning "today", "lakokwe" meaning "so, certainly", "mata" meaning "not") postpositions ("heta'koθaki wayeeci" meaning "towards the east") and interjections ("ce" meaning "so!").

Case

Examples (1) and (2) below show the grammatical interaction of obviation and inverse. The narrative begins in (1) in which grandfather is the grammatical subject [+AGENT] in discourse-focus [+PROXIMATE]. In (2), grandfather remains in discourse-focus [+PROXIMATE], but he is now the grammatical object [+OBJECT]. To align grammatical relations properly in (2), the inverse marker /-ekw-/ is used in the verb stem to signal that the governor is affecting grandfather. (The prefix /ho-/ on 'ho-stakooli' refers to grandfather).[1]

(1)

he-

SUB-

meci-

COMPLETED-

naat-aw'ky

much-land

-aa

-TA

-ci

-3SUB

hina

that

ni-me'soom'

1-grandfather

-θa

-PERSON

he- meci- naat-aw'ky -aa -ci hina ni-me'soom' -θa

SUB- COMPLETED- much-land -TA -3SUB that 1-grandfather -PERSON

'afterwards my grandfather received land'

(2)

wiikiwa

house

ho-

3-

staa

build

-ekw

-INV

-a

-DIR

-li

-3sOBV

kapenalee

governor

-li

-3sOBV

wiikiwa ho- staa -ekw -a -li kapenalee -li

house 3- build -INV -DIR -3sOBV governor -3sOBV

'the governor built (him) a house' (/-li/ is the obviative marker)

Since the person building the house (the governor) is disjoint from the person who the house is being built for (the grandfather), this disjunction is marked by placing one participant in the obviative. Since grandfather is the focus in this narrative, the governor is assigned the obviative marking. Grammatically, 'kapenal-ee' (-ee- < -ile- < -ileni- 'person') is the subject who is not in discourse-focus (marked by /-li/ 3sOBVIATIVE), showing that grammatical relations and obviation are independent categories.

Similar interactions of inverse and obviation are found below. In Shawnee, third person animate beings participate in obviation, including grammatically animate nouns that are semantically inanimate.

we

then

ni-

1-

cis

fear

-h

-CAUSE

-ekw

-INV

-a

-DIR-

hina

that

weepikwa

spider

we ni- cis -h -ekw -a hina weepikwa

then 1- fear -CAUSE -INV -DIR- that spider

'then that spider scared me'

ho-

3-

waap

look

-am

-TA

-aa

-DIR

-li

-3sOBV

kisa'θwa

sun

-li

-3sOBV

ho- waap -am -aa -li kisa'θwa -li

3- look -TA -DIR -3sOBV sun -3sOBV

'he looked at the sun'

Locative affix /-eki/

The Shawnee /-eki/ meaning "in" can be used with either gender. This locative affix cliticizes onto the preceding noun, and thus it appears to be a case ending.

tekwakhwikan

box

-eki

-in

tekwakhwikan -eki

box -in

'in a box'

msi-wikiwaap

big-house

-eki

-in

msi-wikiwaap -eki

big-house -in

'in a big house'

tθene

every

melo'kami

spring

-eki

-in

tθene melo'kami -eki

every spring -in

'every spring'

Modality

The independent and imperative orders are used in independent clauses. The imperative order involves an understood second person affecting first or third persons.

teke

NEG

ki-

2-

e'-

FUT-

memekw

run

-i

-IMPER

teke ki- e'- memekw -i

NEG 2- FUT- run -IMPER

'you mustn't run'

teki-

NEG

koos

run.from

-i

-IMPER

-ma

-AO

teki- koos -i -ma

NEG run.from -IMPER -AO

'you mustn't run away from him'

teke-

NEG

wi'θen

eat

-i

-IMPER

kola'-waapaki

early-morning

teke- wi'θen -i kola'-waapaki

NEG eat -IMPER early-morning

'you mustn't eat early in the morning'

Independent Mode:
Inanimate Intransitive (II):
3s---> /-i/ ---> skwaaw-i 'it is red'
3p---> /-a/ ---> kinwaaw-a 'those are long'

Demonstrative pronouns

Refer to the examples below. 'Yaama' meaning 'this' in examples 1 and 2 refers to someone in front of the speaker. The repetition of 'yaama' in example 1 emphasizes the location of the referent in the immediate presence of the speaker.

(1)

yaama-

this-

kookwe-

strange-

nee

appearing

-θa

-PERSON

-yaama

-this

yaama- kookwe- nee -θa -yaama

this- strange- appearing -PERSON -this

'this stranger (the one right in front of me)'

(2)

mata-

not

yaama-

this

ha'-

TIME-

pa-skoolii

go-school

-wi

-AI

ni-oosθe'

1-grandchild

-0a

-PERSON

mata- yaama- ha'- pa-skoolii -wi ni-oosθe' -0a

not this TIME- go-school -AI 1-grandchild -PERSON

'this grandchild of mine does not go to school'

Refer to the examples below. 'Hina' functions as a third-person singular pronoun.

hina-

3

ha'θepati

racoon

ni-[t]e-si-naa-pe

1-call-thus-IN.OBJ-1p

hina- ha'θepati ni-[t]e-si-naa-pe

3 racoon 1-call-thus-IN.OBJ-1p

'we called him (the Indian Agent) racoon'

we

now

ha'θepati

raccoon

-si

name

-θo

-PASSIVE

-hina

3

we ha'θepati -si -θo -hina

now raccoon name -PASSIVE 3

'then he (the Indian Agent) was named raccoon'

howe-si

good-AI

taakteli

doctor

-hina

3

howe-si taakteli -hina

good-AI doctor 3

'he was a good doctor'

Refer to the examples below. 'Hini' fulfills the same functions as above for inanimate nouns. Locational and third-person singular pronominal uses are found in the following examples.

na'θaapi

even

ni-[t]aay-a

1-REDUP-go

hini

that

na'θaapi ni-[t]aay-a hini

even 1-REDUP-go that

'I would even go there'

hini-

that

h-i-si-ci-howe

[h]-say-thus-3-now

hini- h-i-si-ci-howe

that [h]-say-thus-3-now

'(when) he said that (to me)'

Person, number, and gender

Person

The choice of person affix may depend on the relative position of agent and object on the animacy hierarchy. According to Dixon [8] the animacy hierarchy extends from first person pronoun, second person pronoun, third person pronoun, proper nouns, human common nouns, animate common nouns, and inanimate common nouns.

The affixes in the verb will reflect whether an animate agent is acting on someone or something lower in the animacy scale, or whether he is being acted upon by someone or something lower in the animacy scale.

Number

Shawnee nouns can be singular or plural. Inflectional affixes in the verb stem that cross-reference objects are often omitted if inanimate objects are involved. Even if an inflectional affix for the inanimate object is present, it usually does not distinguish number. For example, in the TI paradigm (animate›inanimate) when there is a second or third person plural subject, object markers are present in the verb stem, but they are number-indifferent. Overt object markers are omitted for most other subjects. In the inverse situation, (animate‹inanimate) the inanimate participants are not cross-referenced morphologically.[9]

Gender

The basic distinction for gender in Shawnee is between animate actors and inanimate objects. Nouns are in two gender classes, inanimate and animate; the latter includes all persons, animals, spirits, and large trees, and some other objects such as tobacco, maize, apple, raspberry (but not strawberry), calf of leg (but not thigh), stomach, spittle, feather, bird's tail, horn, kettle, pipe for smoking, snowshoe.[10]

Grammatical gender in Shawnee is more accurately signaled by the phonology, not the semantics.
Nouns ending in /-a/ are animate, while nouns ending in /-i/ are inanimate.[11] This phonological criterion is not absolute. Modification by a demonstrative ("hina" being animate and "hini" being inanimate, meaning that) and pluralization are conclusive tests.

In the singular, Shawnee animate nouns end in /-a/, and the obviative singular morpheme is /-li/.
Shawnee inanimate nouns are usually pluralized with stem +/-ali/.
This causes animate obviative singular and inanimate plural to look alike on the surface.


example

animate obviative singular
wiskilo'θa-li
bird

inanimate plural
niipit-ali
my teeth

Orthography

During the 19th century a short-lived Roman-based alphabet was designed for Shawnee by the missionary Jotham Meeker. It was never widely used.[7]: 36  Later, native Shawnee speaker Thomas 'Wildcat' Alford devised a highly phonemic and accurate orthography for his 1929 Shawnee translation of the four gospels of the New Testament, but it, too, never attained wide usage.

Vocabulary

EnglishShawnee
beardKwenaloonaroll
general greeting (in the northeastern dialect)Hatito
general greeting (in the southern dialect)Ho
greetingsBezon (general greeting)

Bezon nikanaki (general greeting spoken to a friend)

Howisakisiki (daytime greeting)

Howisiwapani (morning greeting)

Wasekiseki (morning greeting)

how are you?Hakiwisilaasamamo Waswasimamo
reply to Hakiwisilaasamamo and WaswasimamoNiwisilasimamo

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Shawnee at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Andrew, Kenneth Ralph. Shawnee Grammar. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1994
  3. ^ "Shawnee: A Matter of Funding". We Shall Remain. American Experience (in association with NAPT). 2009-04-13. PBS. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  4. ^ "Shawnee Language Classes". Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma. Archived from the original on 2016-05-20. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  5. ^ "Say it in Shawnee!". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  6. ^ "Learn Shawnee - Learn Shawnee Language". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  7. ^ a b Mithun, Marianne (2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9.
  8. ^ Dixon 1979:85-6
  9. ^ Andrew, Kenneth Ralph. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1994.
  10. ^ Bloomfield 1946:449-50; punctuation as in the original
  11. ^ Chrisley 1992:9

Further reading

  • Alford, Thomas Wildcat. 1929. The Four Gospels of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Shawnee Indian Language. Xenia, Ohio: Dr. W. A. Galloway.
  • Andrews, Kenneth. 1994. Shawnee Grammar. Unpublished Dissertation, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
  • Costa, David J. 2001. Shawnee Noun Plurals. Anthropological Linguistics 43: 255-287.
  • Costa, David J. 2002. Preverb Usage in Shawnee Narratives. In H. C. Wolfart, ed., Papers of the 33rd Algonquian Conference, 120-161. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.
  • Gatschet, Albert S. "Shawnee words, phrases, sentences and texts 1890-1892". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  • Voegelin, Carl F. 1935. Shawnee Phonemes. Language 11: 23-37.
  • Voegelin, Carl F. 1936. Productive Paradigms in Shawnee. Robert H. Lowie, ed., Essays in Anthropology presented to A. L. Kroeber 391-403. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Voegelin, Carl F. 1938-40. Shawnee Stems and the Jacob P. Dunn Miami Dictionary. Indiana Historical Society Prehistory Research Series 1: 63-108, 135-167, 289-323, 345-406, 409-478 (1938–1940). Indianapolis.

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