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Valley Yokuts

Valley Yokuts
RegionSan Joaquin Valley, California
Native speakers
8 Chukchansi speakers (2011)[1]
Yok-Utian ?
Language codes
ISO 639-3(included in yok)

Valley Yokuts is a dialect cluster of the Yokutsan language family of California.

Chukchansi, which is still spoken natively, has language classes and a preschool for children. It is also taught at a local elementary school. Though there are no longer any native speakers, Tachi has a Headstart language program.


Valley Yokuts is sometimes considered three languages, of which only Northern Valley Yokuts is still spoken.[3]

  • Far Northern Valley Yokuts (AKA Delta Yokuts)
Yachikumne (AKA Chulamni)
  • Northern Valley Yokuts
  • Southern Valley Yokuts
Chunut (AKA Sumtache)

Of these, Yawelmani /jɑːwɛlˈmɑːni/,[4] also known as Yowlumni, is the best known. See also Chukchansi dialect.


Yawelmani will be taken as representative.


  Bilabial Dental Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop plain p /p/ t /t/ /ʈ/ k /k/ ʼ /ʔ/
aspirated ph // th // ṭh /ʈʰ/ kh //
ejective // // ṭʼ /ʈʼ/ //
Affricate plain c /t͡s/ č /t͡ʃ/
aspirated ch /t͡sʰ/ čh /t͡ʃʰ/
ejective /t͡sʼ/ čʼ /t͡ʃʼ/
Fricative s /s/ /ʂ/ x /x/ h /h/
Nasal plain m /m/ n /n/  
glottalized /mˀ/ /nˀ/
Approximant plain w /w/ l /l/ y /j/
glottalized /wˀ/ /lˀ/ /jˀ/


Yawelmani has 8 vowel phonemes:

Unrounded Rounded
short long short long
High i u
Non-high a ɔ ɔː
  • There are 4 short-long vowel pairs.
  • Short high vowels may become more centralized in fast speech: /i/ → [ɪ], /u/ → [ʊ].
  • Long high vowels are almost always lower than their short counterparts: /iː/ → [ɛː], /uː/ → [ɔː].
  • All long vowels may be shortened by a phonological process. Thus, a single long vowel has two different phonetic realizations:
    • /iː/ → [ɛ, ɛː],
    • /aː/ → [a, aː],
    • /uː/ → [ɔ, ɔː],
    • /ɔː/ → [ɔ, ɔː].
  • Note that the high long vowel /uː/ is usually pronounced the same as /ɔ/ and /ɔː/.

As can be seen, Yawelmani vowels have a number of different realizations (phones) which are summarized below:

Front Back
short long short long
High i u
Near-high ɪ ʊ
Mid ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː
Low a

Syllable & phonotactics

The Yawelmani syllables can be either a consonant-vowel sequence (CV), such as deeyi- 'lead', or a consonant-vowel-consonant sequence (CVC), such as xata- 'eat'. Thus the generalized syllable is the following:


Word roots are bisyllabic and have either one of two shapes:

  • CV.CV
  • CV.CVC

Phonological processes

Vowel shortening

When long vowels are in closed syllables, they are shortened:

/p’a.xaː.t’it/ [p’axaːt’it] p̓axaat̕it 'mourn (passive aorist)' (/aː/ remains long)
/p’a.xaːt’.hin/ [p’axat’hin] p̓axat̕hin 'mourn (aorist)' (/aː/ is shortened)
/ts’u.juː.hun/ [ts’ujɔːhun] c̓uyoohun 'urinate (aorist)' (/uː/ remains long)
/ts’u.juːt/ [ts’ujɔt] c̓uyot 'urinate (passive aorist)' (/uː/ is shortened)

Vowel harmony

Yawelmani has suffixes that contain either an underspecified high vowel /I/ or an underspecified non-high vowel /A/.

  • Underspecified /I/ will appear as /u/ following the high rounded vowel /u/ and as /i/ following all other vowels /i, a, ɔ/:
/-hIn/ -hun/-hin (aorist suffix)
/muʈhIn/ [muʈhun] muṭhun 'swear (aorist)'
/ɡij’hIn/ [ɡij’hin] giy̓hin 'touch (aorist)'
/ɡɔphIn/ [ɡɔphin] gophin 'take care of infant (aorist)'
/xathIn/ [xathin] xathin 'eat (aorist)'
  • Underspecified /A/ will appear as /ɔ/ following the non-high rounded vowel /ɔ/ and as /a/ following all other vowels /i, u, a/:
/-tAw/ -tow/-taw (nondirective gerundial suffix)
/ɡɔptAw/ [ɡɔptɔw] goptow 'take care of infant (nondir. ger.)'
/ɡij’tAw/ [ɡij’taw] giy̓taw 'touch (nondir. ger.)'
/muʈtAw/ [muʈtaw] muṭtaw 'swear (nondir. ger.)'
/xattAw/ [xatːaw] xattaw 'eat (nondir. ger.)'

Vowel epenthesis

Yawelmani adds vowels to stems, when suffixes with an initial consonant are affixed to word with two final consonants in order to avoid a triple-consonant-cluster.


deeyi 'to lead'
deeyen 'he will lead'
deyhin 'he led'
diyhatinhin 'he wanted to lead'
diyee’iy 'place where one got the lead' (subjective)
diyaa’an 'he is leading'
deydiyen 'he will lead repeatedly'
diyidyiisaahin ’anam 'they led each other repeatedly'
diyeediyic’ 'one who is leading repeatedly' (subjective)
deyday 'act of leading repeatedly' (subjective)
’ɔɔṭ’hun 'he stole' - ’ɔɔṭ’uṭ’hun 'he stole often'
’ɔɔṭ’al 'he might steal' - ’ɔɔṭ’uṭ’al 'he might steal often'


  • Archangeli, Diana B. (1985). Extrametricality in Yawelmani. Linguistic review, 4 (2), 101-120.
  • Archangeli, Diana B. (1986). Yokuts harmony: Evidence for coplanar representation in nonlinear phonology. Linguistic inquiry, 16, 335-372.
  • Archangeli, Diana B. (1988). Underspecification in Yawelmani phonology and morphology. Outstanding dissertations in linguistics. New York: Garland Pub. ISBN 0-8240-5175-0. (Revision of 1984 doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
  • Archangeli, Diana B. (1991). Syllabification and prosodic templates in Yawelmani. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 9, 231-283.
  • Gamble, Geoffrey. (1975). Consonant symbolism in Yokuts. International Journal of American Linguistics, 41, 306-309.
  • Harris, Zellig. (1944). Yokuts structure and Newman's grammar. International Journal of American Linguistics, 10, 196-211.
  • Hockett, Charles. (1967). The Yawelmani basic verb. Language, 26, 278-282.
  • Hockett, Charles. (1973). Yokuts as a testing ground for linguistic methods. International Journal of American Linguistics, 39, 63-79.
  • Hymes, Dell H. (1964). Language in culture and society: A reader in linguistics and anthropology. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Kuroda, S.-Y. (1967). Yawelmani phonology. Special technical report (No. 15); M.I.T. research monograph series (No. 43). Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Research Laboratory of Electronics.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. (1906). The Yokuts and Yuki languages. In B. Laufer & H. A. Andrews (Eds.), Boas anniversary volume (pp. 64–79). New York: G.E. Stechert & Co. (Reprinted as separate book 1906).
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. (1906). The Yokuts and Yuki languages. New York: Stechert. (Originally in Laufer & Andrews 1906).
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  • Newman, Stanley S. (1940). Linguistic aspects of Yokuts style. Anthropological Record, 5 (1), 4-15. (Reprinted in Hymes 1964).
  • Newman, Stanley S. (1944). Yokuts language of California. Viking Fund publications in anthropology (No. 2). New York: Viking Fund. (Reprinted 1963 & 1968, New York: Johnson Reprint Corp.).
  • Newman, Stanley S. (1946). The Yawelmani dialect of Yokuts. In C. Osgood & H. Hoijer (Eds.), Linguistic structures of native America (pp. 222–248). New York: The Viking Fund.
  • Newman, Stanley S. (1964). Linguistic aspects of Yokuts style. In D. H. Hymes, Language in culture and society. New York: Harper & Row. (Originally published as Newman 1940).
  • Newman, Stanley S. (1966). Word classes in Yokuts. Lingua, 17, 182-199.
  • Noske, Roland. (1985). Syllabification and Syllable Changing Processes in Yawelmani. In Harry van der Hulst & Norval S.H. Smith (Eds.), Advances in Nonlinear Phonology, Dordrecht: Foris, 335-361.
  • Noske, Roland. (1993). A Theory of Syllabification and Segmental Alternation. With studies on the phonology of French, German, Tonkawa and Yawelmani. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  • Osgood, Cornelius; & Hoijer, Harry (Eds.). (1946). Linguistic structures of native America. Viking fund publications in anthropology (No. 6). New York: The Viking Fund. (Reprinted 1963, 1965, 1967, & 1971, New York: Johnson Reprint Corp.).
  • Pullum, Geoffrey. (1973). Yokuts bibliography: An addendum. International Journal of American Linguistics, 39, 269-271.
  • Steriade, Donca. (1986). Yokuts and the vowel plane. Linguistic inquiry, 17, 129-146.


  1. ^ Carmen George (2011-09-29). "Chukchansi issues disenrollment letters". Sierra Star. Oakhurst CA. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Valley Yokuts". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Northern Valley is sometimes called "Northern Foothill". However, in Gamble's 1988 classification, Foothill Yokuts is a cover term for Gashowu–Kings River, Tule-Kaweah, and Buena Vista Yokuts.
  4. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh

External links