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Kitanemuk language

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Title: Kitanemuk language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Takic languages, Serrano language, Colorado River Numic language, Northern Paiute language, Cahuilla language
Collection: Agglutinative Languages, Extinct Languages of North America, Takic Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kitanemuk language

Native to United States
Region Southern California
Ethnicity Kitanemuk
Extinct Last spoken in the 1940s by Marcelino Rivera, Isabella Gonzales, and Refugia Duran
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Kitanemuk was a Northern Uto-Aztecan language of the Serran branch. It was very closely related to Serrano, and may have been a dialect. It was spoken in the San Gabriel Mountains and foothill environs of Southern California. The last speakers lived some time in the 1940s, though the last fieldwork was carried out in 1937. J. P. Harrington took copious notes in the 1916 and 1917, however, which has allowed for a fairly detailed knowledge of the language.


  • Morphology 1
  • Phonology 2
    • Consonants 2.1
    • Vowels 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Kitanemuk is an agglutinative language, where words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.



The consonant phonemes of Kitanemuk, as reconstructed by Anderton (1988) based on Harrington's field notes, were (with some standard Americanist phonetic notation in angle brackets:

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
plain labio.
Nasal /m/ /n/ /ŋ/
Plosive /p/ /t/ /k/ /kʷ/ /ʔ/
Affricate /ts/ c /tʃ/ č
Fricative /v/ /s/ /ʃ/ š /h/
Rhotic /r/
Approximant /l /j/ y /w/

Word-finally, /h/ becomes [r], and all voiced consonants become voiceless before other voiceless consonants or word-finally.


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

See also


  • Anderton, Alice J. (1988). The Language of the Kitanemuks of California. PhD. diss., University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Mithun, Marianne (1999). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

  • Four Directions Institute: Kitanemuk
  • Native Languages: Kitanemuk
  • Kitanemuk language overview at the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages
  • Papers of John P. Harrington, Part 3, Southern California/Basin, OLAC Open Language Archive

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