Penutian languages

Hypothetical superfamily of North American Indian languages that unites a number of languages and language families mainly of the far western U.S. and Canada.

The Penutian hypothesis was proposed by Roland B. Dixon and Alfred L. Kroeber in 1913 and refined by Edward Sapir in 1921. Like the Hokan hypothesis (see Hokan languages), it attempted to reduce the number of unrelated language families in one of the world's most linguistically diverse areas. At its core was a group of languages spoken along California's central coast and in the Central Valley, including Ohlone (Costanoan), Miwok, Wintuan, Maidu, and Yokuts. Sapir added Oregon Penutian (languages once spoken in eastern Oregon), Chinookan (spoken along the lower Columbia River), Plateau Penutian (languages of Plateau Indian peoples), Tsimshian (spoken in western British Columbia), and Mexican Penutian (spoken in southern Mexico). Aside from the Mexican group, all the languages are today either extinct or spoken almost exclusively by older adults. Though the hypothesis remains unproven, at least some languages of the group are probably related to each other.

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      major grouping (phylum or superstock) of American Indian languages, spoken along the west coast of North America from British Columbia to central California and central New Mexico. The phylum consists of 15 language families with about 20 languages; the families are Wintun (two languages), Miwok-Costanoan (perhaps five Miwokan languages, plus three extinct Costanoan languages), Sahaptin (two languages), Yakonan (two extinct languages), Yokutsan (three languages), and Maiduan (four languages)—plus Klamath-Modoc, Cayuse (extinct), Molale (extinct), Coos, Takelma (extinct), Kalapuya, Chinook (not to be confused with Chinook jargon, a trade language or lingua franca), Tsimshian, and Zuni, each a family consisting of a single language. All but four of the surviving familes are spoken by fewer than 150 persons.

      Major languages in the phylum are Zuni, spoken in New Mexico; Tsimshian, spoken in British Columbia; and the Sahaptin dialects (Klikitat, Umatilla, Wallawalla, Warm Springs, and Yakima), spoken in north-central Oregon.

      The Penutian languages are sometimes grouped into a yet larger stock, called either Penutian or Macro-Penutian, that includes several Meso-American Indian languages. The Totonacan, Huave, and Mixe-Zoque language families are often included, and some scholars suggest the inclusion of the large Mayan language family. The American linguist Benjamin L. Whorf (Whorf, Benjamin Lee) proposed to include not only Mixe-Zoque, Huave, Totonacan, and Mayan (including Huastec) but also Uto-Aztecan, another major North and Meso-American language family. This grouping has not been generally accepted.

      The Penutian languages tend toward the use of formal or inflecting suffixes and changes in the stems of words. In this respect they resemble European languages.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Penutian languages — Infobox Language family name=Penutian altname=controversial region=North America child1=Chinookan child2=Plateau Penutian child3=Takelma child4=Kalapuyan child5=Alsean child6=Siuslaw child7=Coosan child8=Wintuan child9=Maiduan child10=Utian… …   Wikipedia

  • Plateau Penutian languages — Infobox Language family name=Plateau Penutian altname=Shahapwailutan, Lepitan region=Pacific Northwest familycolor=American family=Plateau Penutian child1= Klamath child2= Molala child3=Sahaptian languages map caption=Pre contact distribution of… …   Wikipedia

  • Oregon Penutian languages — Oregon Penutian (hypothetical / obsolete) Geographic distribution: Oregon Linguistic classification: Penutian Oregon Penutian Subdivisions …   Wikipedia

  • Oregon Coast Penutian languages — Oregon Coast Penutian Geographic distribution: western North America Linguistic classification: Oregon Coast Penutian Subdivisions: Alsean Siuslaw Coosan The Oregon Coast Penutian languages are …   Wikipedia

  • Penutian — n. family of Amerindian languages spoken in Pacific coastal areas from California (USA) to British Columbia (Canada); member of a North American Indian people that speak one of the Penutian languages …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Penutian — [pə nu:ʃ(ə)n, nu:tɪən] noun a proposed superfamily or phylum of American Indian languages, most of which are now extinct or nearly so. Origin from pen and uti, words for two in two groups of Penutian languages + an …   English new terms dictionary

  • Penutian — noun 1. a family of Amerindian language spoken in the great interior valley of California (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑Amerind, ↑Amerindian language, ↑American Indian language, ↑American Indian, ↑Indian • Hyponyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Languages of the United States — Official language(s) none Main language(s) English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo European 3.8%, Asian …   Wikipedia

  • Penutian — ☆ Penutian [pə no͞ot′ē ən, pə no͞o′shən ] n. [coined (1912) by R. B. Dixon & A. L. Kroeber < pene + uti, both words for “two” in different languages of this group] a group of remotely related language families, consisting of North American… …   English World dictionary

  • Penutian — /peuh nooh tee euhn, sheuhn/, n. 1. a group of American Indian language families of central and coastal California, including Wintu, Maidu, Yokuts, Miwok, and Costanoan, thought to be descendants of a single protolanguage spoken at a remote… …   Universalium

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