- O'odham language
O'odham ʼOʼodham ha-ñeʼokĭ, ʼOʼodham ñiʼokĭ, Oʼodham ñiok Spoken in United States, Mexico Region Primarily south-central Arizona and northern Sonora Ethnicity Tohono O'odham, Pima Native speakers 9,750 (2000) Language familyUto-Aztecan
Official status Official language in One of the national languages of Mexico Regulated by Secretary of Public Education in Mexico; various tribal agencies in the USA Language codes ISO 639-3 ood This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
O'odham (pronounced [ˈɔʔɔd̪ɦam]) is an Uto-Aztecan language of southern Arizona and northern Sonora where the Tohono O'odham (formerly called the Papago) and Pima reside. As of the year 2000, there were estimated to be approximately 9750 speakers in the United States and Mexico combined, although there may be more due to underreporting. It is the 10th most-spoken indigenous language in the United States, the 3rd most-spoken indigenous language in Arizona after Apache and Navajo. It is the 3rd most-spoken language in Pinal County and the 4th most-spoken language in Pima County. Approximately 8% of O'odham speakers in the US speak English "not well" or "not at all", according to results of the 2000 Census. Approximately 13% of O'odham speakers in the US were between the ages of 5 and 17, and among the younger O'odham speakers, approximately 4% were reported as speaking English "not well" or "not at all".
Native names for the language, depending on the dialect and orthography, include Oʼodham ha-ñeʼokĭ, Oʼottham ha-neoki, and Oʼodham ñiok.
- Tohono O'odham
- Cukuḍ Kuk
- Akimel O'odham
- Eastern Gila
- Salt River
- Western Gila
- Hia C-ed O'odham
Due to the paucity of data on the linguistic varieties of the Hia C-ed O'odham, this section currently focuses on the Tohono O'odham and Akimel O'odham dialects only.
The greatest lexical and grammatical dialectal differences are between the Tohono O'odham (or Papago) and the Akimel O'odham (or Pima) dialect groupings. Some examples:
Tohono O'odham Akimel O'odham English ʼaʼad hotṣ to send ñeñida tamiam to wait for s-hewhogĭ s-heubagĭ to be cool sisiṣ hoʼiumi (but si:ṣpakuḍ, stapler) to fasten pi: haʼicug pi ʼac to be absent wia ʼoʼoid hunt tr.
There are other major dialectal differences between northern and southern dialects, for example:
Early O'odham Southern Northern English *ʼa:pi:m ʼa:ham ʼa:pim you *cu:khug cu:hug cu:kug flesh *ʼe:kheg ʼe:heg ʼe:keg to be shaded *ʼu:pham ʼu:hum ʼu:pam (go) back
The Cukuḍ Kuk dialect has null in certain positions where other Tohono O'odham dialects have a bilabial:
Other TO dialects Chukuḍ Kuk English jiwia, jiwa jiia to arrive ʼuʼuwhig ʼuʼuhig bird wabṣ haṣ only wabṣaba, ṣaba haṣaba but
O'odham is an agglutinative language, where words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.
For clarity, note that the terms Tohono O'odham and Papago refer to the same language; likewise for Akimel O'odham and Pima.
Labial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal Plosives p b t d ɖ tʃ dʒ k ɡ ʔ Fricatives (v) s ʂ h Nasal m n ɲ ŋ Approximant w ɭ j
Front Central Back High i ɨ ʊ Mid ə ɔ Low a
All vowels distinguish three degrees of length: long, short, and extra-short.
- ṣe:l /ʂɨːɭ/ "Seri"
- ṣel /ʂɨɭ/ "permission"
- ʼa:pi /aːpi/ "you"
- da:pĭ /daːpĭ/ "I don't know", "who knows?"
Papago /ɨ/ is pronounced /ʌ/ in Pima.
Additionally, in common with many northern Uto-Aztecan languages, vowels and nasals at end of words are devoiced. Also, a short schwa sound, either voiced or unvoiced depending on position, is often interpolated between consonants and at the ends of words.
Allophony and distribution
- /ĭ/ is realized as [i̥], and devoices preceding obstruents: cuwĭ /tʃʊwĭ/ → [tʃʊʍi̥]~[tʃʊʍʲ] "jackrabbit".
- /w/ is a fricative [β] before unrounded vowels: wisilo [βisiɭɔ].
- [ŋ] appears before /k/ and /ɡ/ in Spanish loanwords, but native words do not have nasal assimilation: to:nk [toːnk] "hill", namk [namk] "meet", ca:ŋgo [tʃaːŋɡo] "monkey". /p/, /ɭ/, and /ɖ/ rarely occur initially in native words, and /ɖ/ does not occur before /i/.
- [ɲ] and [n] are largely in complementary distribution, [ɲ] appearing before high vowels /i/ /ɨ/ /ʊ/, [n] appearing before low vowels /a/ /ɔ/: ñeʼe "sing". They contrast finally (ʼañ (1st imperfective auxiliary) vs. an "next to speaker"), though Saxton analyzes these as /ani/ and /an/, respectively, and final [ɲi] as in ʼa:ñi as /niː/. However, there are several Spanish loanwords where [nu] occurs: nu:milo "number". Similarly, for the most part [t] and [d] appear before low vowels while [tʃ] and [dʒ] before high vowels, but there are exceptions to both, often in Spanish loanwords: tiki:la ("tequila") "wine", TO weco / AO veco ("[de]bajo") "under".
There are two orthographies commonly used for the O'odham language, Alvarez-Hale and Saxton. The Alvarez-Hale orthography is officially used by the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and is used in this article, but the Saxton orthography is also common and is official in the Gila River Indian Community. It is relatively easy to convert between the two, the differences between them being largely no more than different graphemes for the same phoneme, but there are distinctions made by Alvarez-Hale not made by Saxton.
Phoneme Alvarez-Hale Saxton Meaning /a/ a ʼaʼal a a'al baby /b/ b ban b ban coyote /tʃ/ c cehia ch chehia girl /ð/ d da:k th thahk nose /ɖ/ ḍ meḍ d med run /d/ ḏ juḏum d judum bear TO /ɨ/, AO /ʌ/ e ʼeʼeb e e'eb stop crying /ɡ/ g gogs g gogs dog /h/ h haʼicu h ha'ichu something TO /i/, AO /ɨ/ i ʼi:bhai i ihbhai prickly pear cactus /dʒ/ j ju:kĭ j juhki rain /k/ k ke:k k kehk stand /ɭ/ l lu:lsi l luhlsi candy /m/ m mu:ñ m muhni bean(s) /n/ n na:k n nahk ear /ɲ/ ñ ñeʼe, mu:ñ n, ni ne'e, muhni sing, bean(s) /ŋ/ ŋ aŋhil, wa:ŋgo ng, n anghil, wahngo angel, bank /ɔ/ o ʼoʼohan o o'ohan write /p/ p pi p pi not /s/ s sitol s sitol honey /ʂ/ ṣ ṣoiga sh shoiga pet /t/ t to:bĭ t tohbi cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) /u/ u ʼu:s u uhs tree, wood /v/ v vainom v vainom knife /w/ w wuai w wuai male deer /j/ y payaso y pa-yaso clown /ʔ/ ʼ ʼaʼan ' a'an feather /ː/ : ju:kĭ h juhki rain
The Saxton orthography does not mark word-initial /ʔ/ or extra-short vowels. Final <i> generally corresponds to Hale-Alvarez <ĭ> and final <ih> to Hale-Alvarez <i>:
- Hale-Alvarez to:bĭ vs. Saxton tohbi /toːbĭ/ "cottontail rabbit"
- Hale-Alvarez ʼaːpi vs. Saxton ahpih /ʔaːpi/ "I"
Etymological vs. Phonetic spelling
There is some disagreement among speakers as to whether the spelling of words should be only phonetic, or whether etymological principles should also be considered.
For example: oamajda vs. wuamajda ("frybread"; some people may also use a c instead of a j), oam means "yellow/brown/orange" and thus this is a compound word of sorts. Some people believe it should begin like any word that starts with a /ʊa/, wua, while others think its spelling should match that of the word oam (oam is in fact a form of s-oam, so while it could be spelt wuam itself, it is not because it is just a different declension of the same word) to reflect its etymology.
O'odham is notable for being non-configurational; for example, all of the following sentences mean "the boy brands the pig":
- ceoj ʼo g ko:jĭ ceposid
- ko:jĭ ʼo g ceoj ceposid
- ceoj ʼo ceposid g ko:jĭ
- ko:jĭ ʼo ceposid g ceoj
- ceposid ʼo g ceoj g ko:jĭ
- ceposid ʼo g ko:jĭ g ceoj
In principle, these could also mean "the pig brands the boy", but such an interpretation would require an unusual context.
Despite the general freedom of sentence word order, O'odham is fairly strictly verb-second in its placement of the auxiliary verb (in the above sentences, it is ʼo):
- cipkan ʼañ "I am working"
- but pi ʼañ cipkan "I am not working", not *pi cipkan ʼañ
Verbs are inflected for aspect (imperfective cipkan, perfective cipk), tense (future imperfective cipkanad), and number (plural cicpkan). Number agreement displays absolutive behavior: verbs agree with the number of the subject in intransitive sentences, but with that of the object in transitive sentences:
- ceoj ʼo cipkan "the boy is working"
- cecoj ʼo cicpkan "the boys are working"
- ceoj ʼo g ko:ji ceposid "the boy is branding the pig"
- cecoj ʼo g ko:ji ceposid "the boys are branding the pig"
- ceoj ʼo g kokji ha-cecposid "the boy is branding the pigs"
The main verb agrees with the object for person (ha- in the above example), but the auxiliary agrees with the subject: ʼa:ñi ʼañ g kokji ha-cecposid "I am branding the pigs".
Three numbers are distinguished in nouns: singular, plural, and distributive, though not all nouns have distinct forms for each. Most distinct plurals are formed by reduplication and often vowel loss, plus other occasional morphophonemic changes, and distributives are formed from these by gemination of the reduplicated consonant:
- gogs "dog", gogogs "dogs", goggogs "dogs (all over)"
- ma:gina "car", mamgina "cars", mammagina "cars (all over)"
- mi:stol "cat", mimstol "cats"
O'odham adjectives can act both attributively modifying nouns and predicatively as verbs, with no change in form.
- ʼi:da ṣu:dagĭ ʼo s-he:pid "This water is cold"
- ʼs-he:pid ṣu:dagĭ ʼañ hohoʼid "I like cold water"
The following is an excerpt from. It exemplifies the Salt River dialect.
- Na:nse ʼe:da, mo: hek jeweḍ ʼu:d si we:coc, ma:ṣ hek Taḏai siskeg ʼu:d ʼuʼuhig. Hek ʼaʼanac c wopo:c si wo skegac c ʼep si cecwac. Kuṣ ʼam hebai hai ki g ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼoʼoidam k ʼam ʼupam da:da k ʼam ce: ma:ṣ he:kai cu hek ha na:da. ʼI:dam ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼeh he:mapa k ʼam aʼaga ma:ṣ has ma:sma vo bei hek na:da ʼab ʼamjeḍ hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Ṣa biʼi ʼa ma:ṣ mo ka:ke hek Taḏai ma:ṣ mo me:tk ʼamo ta:i hek na:da ha we:hejeḍ ʼi:dam ʼOʼodham. Taḏai ṣa: ma so:hi ma:ṣ mo me:ḍk ʼamo ta:i g na:da hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Tho ṣud me:tkam, ʼam “si ʼi nai:ṣ hek wo:gk” k gau mel ma:ṣ ʼam ki g Tatañki Jioṣ.
In Saxton orthography:
- Nahnse ehtha, moh hek jeved uhth sih vehchoch, mahsh hek Tadai siskeg uhth u'uhig. Hek a'anach ch vopohch sih vo skegach ch ep sih chechvach. Kush am hebai hai kih g O'ottham sham o'oitham k am upam thahtha k am cheh mahsh hehkai chu hek ha nahtha. Ihtham O'othham sham eh hehmapa k am a'aga mahsh has mahsma vo bei hek nahtha ab amjeth hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Sha bi'ih a mahsh mo kahke hek Tadai mahsh mo mehtk amo tah'ih hek nahtha ha vehhejed ihtham O'ottham. Tadai shah ma sohhih mahsh mo mehdk amo tah'ih g nahtha hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Tho shuth mehtkam, am “sih ih naihsh hek vohgk” k gau mel mahsh am kih g Tatanigi Jiosh.
- ^ 9,595 in the US Data Center States Results
- ^ 153 in Mexico Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas - México
- ^ Webuilder
- ^ Saxton, Dean, Saxton, Lucille, & Enos, Susie. (1983). Dictionary: Tohono O'odham/Pima to English, English to Tohono O'odham/Pima. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press
- ^ Saxton, Dean. (1963). Papago Phonemes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 29, 29-35
- ^ Zepeda, Ofelia. (1983). A Tohono O'odham Grammar. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.
- ^ Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program. Taḏai. Salt River, AZ: Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program
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