Lecture 9 Native Languages of California

Lecture 9 Native Languages of California - Native languages...

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Native languages and cultures of California 2006 Yurok Language Forum http://ls.berkeley.edu/?q=arts-ideas/archive/endangered- languages-find-advocates-berkeley Lucy Telles and her largest basket (Photo courtesy of the San Joaquin Valley Library System)
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Before European contact there were 300 distinct, mutually unintelligible languages spoken in the Americas North of the Rio Grande. Source: Mithun, M. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. The native languages of the US differ in significant ways from the better-known European languages in terms of their sound patterns, word structures, grammatical categories and larger patterns of expression. This structural diversity reflects genetic diversity: 55 different language families and isolates (vs. 3 language families in Europe).
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Early documentation The earliest records of Native languages of what is now the US came from European travelers and explorers. * First records of languages of the Southeast Spanish expedition of 1539-43 through (what is now) Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. For some languages, these are the only records available! Some languages (especially in the West coast) were not recorded until the late nineteenth century. Missionaries did a lot of linguistic work.
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Early documentation Problems with these records? * Brief contact only brief wordlists (or sometimes just the names of the languages!) * Inaccurate descriptions due to lack of bilingualism * Inaccurate transcriptions due to not knowing how to transcribe unfamiliar sounds (first explorers). * Missionaries trained in Classical languages (like Latin), described Native American Languages based on these very different languages.
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Linguistic diversity in California California is the most linguistically diverse place in the United States. 50 languages spoken in California today, from probably about 100 that were spoken in the state in the 1800s. ~ 20 language families represented. Languages with the largest numbers of speakers: Ipai and Tipai (spoken near the border with Mexico) together have about 150 speakers; Yuma (Quechan) has 150-200. Source: Golla (to appear)
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Why is California so special? Many natural resources available. Possibility for sustaining small populations with very diverse activities. This allowed each community to stay relatively independent from each other (though there were close trading and ceremonial ties among communities). Relative independence stable communities where individual language varieties were kept, despite multilingualism in the area. Source: Hinton 1994, p. 13
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Some languages and language families/stocks in California Pomoan. Includes Kashaya (traditional territory in what’s now Sonoma county) Algic. Includes Yurok (spoken on the Klamath River, northern California) Uto-Aztecan. Includes Northern Paiute (Northeast corner of California, Nevada and Oregon) and Chemehuevi (San
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2011 for the course LIGN 8 taught by Professor Bakovic,e during the Spring '08 term at UCSD.

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Lecture 9 Native Languages of California - Native languages...

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