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Siouan language

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Title: Siouan language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: West Virginia, Crow Nation, Lakota people, Cheyenne people, Muscatine, Iowa, North Sioux City, South Dakota, Ohio Country, Ho-Chunk, Osage language, Great Sioux Nation
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Siouan language

central North America
Linguistic classification: one of the world's primary language families
Ethnologue code: 5: sio

Pre-contact distribution of the Siouan–Catawban languages

Siouan or Siouan–Catawban is a language family of North America that is located primarily in the Great Plains of North America with a few outlier languages in the east.


Authors who call the entire family Siouan distinguish the two branches as Western Siouan and Eastern Siouan or as Siouan-proper and Catawban. Others restrict the name 'Siouan' to the western branch and use the name Siouan–Catawban for the entire family. Generally, however, the name 'Siouan' is used without distinction.


There is certain amount of comparative work in Siouan–Catawban languages. Wolff [1950-51] is among the first and more complete works on the subject. Wolff reconstructed the system of proto-Siouan, and this was modified by Matthews (1958), the system generally accepted is:

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
plosive *p *t *k
fricative *s *x *h
nasal *m *n
approximant *w *r *j

With respect to vowels, five oral vowels are being reconstructed /*i, *e, *a, *o, *u/ and three nasal vowels /*į, *ą, *ų/. Wolff also reconstructed some consonantal clusters /*tk, *kʃ, *ʃk, *sp/.

External relations

The Yuchi isolate may be the closest relative of Sioux–Catawban.

In the 19th century, Robert Latham suggested that the Siouan languages are related to the Caddoan and Iroquoian languages. In 1931, Louis Allen presented the first list of systematic correspondences between a set of 25 lexical items in Siouan and Iroquoian. In the 1960s and 1970s, Wallace Chafe further explored the link between Siouan and Caddoan languages. In the 1990s, Marianne Mithun compared the morphology and syntax of all the three families. At present, this Macro-Siouan hypothesis is not considered proved, and the similarities between the three families may instead be due to their protolanguages having been part of a sprachbund.[1]

See also


External links

  • Siouan languages mailing list archive


  • Parks, Douglas R.; & Rankin, Robert L. (2001). The Siouan languages. In R. J. DeMallie (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 1, pp. 94–114). W. C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-050400-7.
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