Arapaho language

Arapaho language

states=United States
region=The Wind River Reservation, Wyoming; Oklahoma
fam3=Plains Algonquian

The Arapaho language (also Arapahoe) is a Plains Algonquian language (an areal rather than genetic grouping) spoken almost entirely by elders in Wyoming. The language, which is in great danger of becoming extinct, has diverged very significantly phonologically from its posited proto-language, Proto-Algonquian (Proto-Algonquian "*maθkwa", "bear," became Arapaho "wox", and Proto-Algonquian "*weθari", "her husband," became Arapaho "ííx").


As mentioned above, the Plains Algonquian languages are phonologically very distinct from other people in the great basin speak Algonquian languages and from Proto-Algonquian.


Arapaho has a series of four short vowels IPA|/i e ɔ u/ and four long vowels IPA|/iː eː ɔː uː/ . It also contains three diphthongs, /ei/, IPA|/ɔu/, and /ie/.


The consonant inventory of Arapaho is given in the table below. /j/ is normally transcribed as , IPA|/ʧ/ as , IPA|/ʔ/ as <'>, and IPA|/θ/ is sometimes written <3>.


Arapaho is a tonal language. Vowels can have a mid tone (unmarked), high tone (marked with an acute accent), or falling tone (marked with a circumflex).


Gros Ventre

Gros Ventre (also known as Atsina), a divergent dialect of Arapaho or closely related language, has three additional phonemes, IPA|/tʲ/, IPA|/ʦ/, and IPA|/bʲ/, and lacks the velar fricative /x/.

Other Dialects

Nawathinehena was another language of the Arapahoan group, with a phonological development quite different from either Gros Ventre or Arapaho proper. It has been identified as the former language of the Southern Arapaho, who switched to speaking Arapaho proper in the 19th century. However, the language is not well attested, being documented only in a vocabulary collected in 1899 by Alfred L. Kroeber from the Oklahoma Arapaho. Among its divergent features is the appearance of Proto-Algonquian */s/ as /t/.

Besawunena, also only attested from a wordlist collected by Kroeber, differs only slightly from Arapaho, but a few of its sound changes resemble those seen in Gros Ventre. It had speakers among the Northern Arapahoe as recently as the late 1920s.

External links

* [ Ethnologue Report for Arapaho]
* [ The Arapaho Language]
* [ Arapaho Language Archives] , with many dialogues and narratives in Arapaho with glosses
* [ A Guide to Learning the Northern Arapaho Alphabet]


*Goddard, Ives. 1974. "An Outline of the Historical Phonology of Arapaho and Atsina." "International Journal of American Linguistics" 40:102-16.
*Goddard, Ives. 2001. "The Algonquian Languages of the Plains". Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 13: 71-79.
*Mithun, Marianne. 1999. "The Languages of Native North America". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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