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|Native to||United States, with some speakers in Canada|
|Region||Primarily North Dakota and South Dakota, but also northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota, and northern Montana|
|Native to||United States, with some speakers in Canada|
|Region||Primarily North Dakota and South Dakota, but also northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota, and northern Montana|
Lakota (also Lakhota, Teton, Teton Sioux) is a Siouan language spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes. While generally taught and considered by speakers as a separate language, Lakota is mutually intelligible with the other two languages (cf. Dakota language), and is considered by most linguists one of the three major varieties of the Sioux language. The Lakota language represents one of the largest Native American language speech communities in the United States, with approximately 6,000 speakers living mostly in northern plains states of North Dakota and South Dakota.
The language was first put into written form by missionaries around 1840 and has since evolved to reflect contemporary needs and usage.
Lakota has five oral vowels, /i e a o u/, and three nasal vowels, /ĩ ã ũ/ (phonetically [ɪ̃ ə̃ ʊ̃]). Lakota /e/ and /o/ are said to be more open than the corresponding cardinal vowels, perhaps closer to [ɛ] and [ɔ]. Orthographically, the nasal vowels are written with a following 〈ƞ〉, 〈ŋ〉, or 〈n〉; historically, these were written with ogoneks underneath, 〈į ą ų〉. No syllables end with consonantal /n/.
|Nasals||m [m]||n [n]|
|unaspirated||p [p]||t [t]||č [tʃ]||k [k]||’ [ʔ]|
|voiced||b [b]||g [ɡ]|
|ejective||p’ [pʼ]||t’ [tʼ]||č’ [tʃʼ]||k’ [kʼ]|
|Fricative||voiceless||s [s]||š [ʃ]||ȟ [χ]|
|voiced||z [z]||ž [ʒ]||ǧ [ʁ]|
|ejective||s’ [sʼ]||š’ [ʃʼ]||ȟ’ [χʼ]|
|Approximant||w [w]||l [l]||y [j]||h [h]|
The voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/ becomes a uvular trill ([ʀ]) before /i/ and in fast speech it is often realized as the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/. The voiceless aspirated plosives have two allophonic variants each: those with a delay in voicing ([pʰ tʰ kʰ]), and those with velar friction ([pˣ tˣ kˣ]), which occur before /a/, /ã/, /o/, /ĩ/, and /ũ/ (thus, lakhóta, /laˈkʰota/ is phonetically [laˈkˣota]). For some speakers, there is a phonemic distinction between the two, and both occur before /e/. No such variation occurs for the affricate /tʃʰ/. Some orthographies mark this distinction; others do not. The uvular fricatives /χ/ and /ʁ/ are commonly spelled 〈ȟ〉 and 〈ǧ〉.
All monomorphemic words have one vowel which carries primary stress and has a higher tone than all other vowels in the word. This is generally the vowel of the second syllable of the word, but often the first syllable can be stressed, and occasionally other syllables as well. Stress is generally indicated with an acute accent: 〈á〉, etc. Compound words will have stressed vowels in each component; proper spelling will write compounds with a hyphen. Thus máza-ská, literally "metal-white", i.e. "silver; money" has two stressed vowels, the first a in each component. If it were written without the hyphen, as mazaska, it could only have one stress.
Several varying othographies are currently in use to write the Lakota language. Words are often spelled phonetically and multiple spellings can be considered correct. Sinte Gleska University uses an orthography developed by Albert White Hat and the school's Lakota Studies Department. The writing system of the New Lakota Dictionary has been adopted as the standard orthography by the Sitting Bull College, by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and is also used in a number of schools on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. This is the system presented below.
The vowels are a, e, i, o, u; nasal vowels are aŋ, iŋ, uŋ. Pitch accent is marked with an acute accent: á, é, í, ó, ú, áŋ, íŋ, úŋ on stressed vowels (which receive a higher tone than non-stressed ones)
The following consonants approximate their IPA values: b, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, s, t, w, z. Y has its English value of /j/. An apostrophe, ’, is used for glottal stop.
A caron is used for sounds which are not written with Latin letters in the IPA: č /tʃ/, ǧ /ʁ/, ȟ /χ/, š /ʃ/, ž /ʒ/. Aspirates are written with h: čh, kh, ph, th, and velar frication with ȟ: kȟ, pȟ, tȟ. Ejectives are written with an apostrophe: č’, ȟ’, k’, p’, s’, š’, t’.
The spelling used in modern popular texts is often written without diacritics. Besides failing to mark stress, this also results in the confusion of numerous consonants: /s/ and /ʃ/ are both written s, /h/ and /χ/ are both written h, and the aspirate stops are written like the unaspirates, as p, t, c, k.
Standard Lakota Orthography, as used by majority of schools, is in principle phonemic, which means that each character (grapheme) represents only one distinctive sound (phoneme), except for the distinction between glottal and velar aspiration which is treated phonetically.
A common phonological process which occurs in rapid speech is vowel contraction, which generally results from the loss of an intervocalic glide. Vowel contraction results in phonetic long vowels (phonemically a sequence of two identical vowels), with falling pitch if the first underlying vowel is stressed, and rising pitch if the second underlying vowel is stressed: kê: (falling tone), "he said that," from kéye; hǎ:pi (rising tone), "clothing," from hayápi. If one of the vowels is nasalized, the resulting long vowel is also nasalized: čaŋ̌:pi, "sugar," from čanháŋpi.
When two vowels of unequal height contract, or when feature contrasts exist between the vowels and the glide, two new phonetic vowels, [æː] and [ɔː], result: iyæ̂:, "he left for there," from iyáye; mita:, "it's mine," from mitáwa.
The plural enclitic =pi is frequently changed in rapid speech when preceding the enclitics =kte, =kiŋ, =kšto, or =na. If the vowel preceding =pi is high, =pi becomes [u]; if the vowel is non-high, =pi becomes [o] (if the preceding vowel is nasalized, then the resulting vowel is also nasalized): hi=pi=kte, "they will arrive here," [hiukte]; yatkaŋ=pi=na, "they drank it and...," [jatkə̃õna].
Lakota also exhibits some traces of sound symbolism among fricatives, where the point of articulation changes to reflect intensity: zí, "it's yellow," ží, "it's tawny," ǧí, "it's brown". (Compare with the similar examples in Mandan.)
The basic word order of Lakota is subject–object–verb, although the order can be changed for expressive purposes (placing the object before the subject to bring the object into focus or placing the subject after the verb to emphasize its status as established information). It is postpositional, with adpositions occurring after the head nouns: mas'opiye el, "at the store" (literally 'store at'); típi=kiŋ okšaŋ, "around the house" (literally 'house=the around') (Rood and Taylor 1996).
Rood and Taylor (1996) suggest the following template for basic word order. Items in parenthesis are optional; only the verb is required. It is therefore possible to produce a grammatical sentence that contains only a verb.
(interjection) (conjunction) (adverb(s)) (nominal) (nominal) (nominal) (adverb(s)) verb (enclitic(s)) (conjunction)
When interjections appear, they begin the sentence. A small number of interjections are used only by one gender, for instance the interjection expressing disbelief is ečéš for women but hóȟ for men, for calling attention women say máŋ while men use wáŋ. Most interjections, however, are used by both genders.
It is common for a sentence to begin with a conjunction. Both caŋke and yuŋkaŋ can be translated as and; k’eyaš is similar to English but. Each of these conjunctions joins clauses. In addition, the conjunction na joins nouns or phrases.
Lakota uses postpositions, which are similar to English prepositions, but follow their noun complement. Adverbs or postpositional phrases can describe manner, location, or reason. There are also interrogative adverbs, which are used to form questions.
To the non-Lakota speaker, the postpositions él and ektá sound like they can be interchangeable, but although they are full synonyms of each other, they are used in different occasions. Semantically (word meaning), they are used as locational and directional tools. In the English language they can be compared to prepositions like "at", "in", and "on" (when used as locatives) on the one hand, and "at", "in", and "on" (when used as direction-als), "to", "into", and "onto", on the other.[Pustet]
A cursor for when to use él and when to use ektá can be determined by the concepts of stasis (motionless) or kinesis (motion); and space vs. time. These features can produce four different combinations, also called semantic domains, which can be arranged as follows [Pustet]
1.- space/stasis: "in the House" [thípi ki él] (This sentence is only describing location of an object, no movement indicated)
2.- space/ kinesis: "to the House"[thípi ki ektá] (This sentence is referring to movement of a subject, it is directional in nature)
3.- time/ stasis: "in the winter"[waníyetu ki él] (This sentence refers to a static moment in time, which happens to be during winter)
4.- time / Kinesis: "in/ towards the winter" [waníyetu ki ektá][Pustet] (This sentence is delegated to time, but time which is soon to change to another season)
In abbreviation, when a context describes no motion, él is the appropriate postposition; when in kinesis,ektá shall be more appropriate. They are both used in matters of time and space.
Lakota has four articles: waŋ is indefinite, similar to English a or an, and kiŋ is definite, similar to English the. In addition, waŋjí is an indefinite article used with hypothetical or irrealis objects, and k’uŋ is a definite article used with nouns that have been mentioned previously.
|Distance from speaker|
The demonstrative hé is the most neutral. Once a noun has been located, either by pointing or by description, in space or in the listener’s mind, hé can then be used. Before that, lé or ká is usually used to demonstrate exactly what is meant, although hé may also be used while pointing.
Verbs are the only word class that are obligatory in a Lakota sentence. Verbs can be active, naming an action, or stative, describing a property. (Note that in English, such descriptions are usually made with adjectives.)
There are two paradigms for verb inflection. One set of morphemes indicates the person and number of the subject of active verbs. The other set of morphemes agrees with the object of transitive action verbs or the subject of stative verbs.
Most of the morphemes in each paradigm are prefixes, but plural subjects are marked with a suffix and third-person plural objects with an infix.
First person arguments may be singular, dual, or plural; second or third person arguments may be singular or plural.
Subject of active verbs
|first person||wa-||uŋ(k)-||uŋ(k)- … -pi|
|second person||ya-||ya- … -pi|
Examples: máni "He walks." mánipi "They walk."
Subject of stative verbs
|first person||ma-||uŋ(k)-||uŋ(k)- … -pi|
|second person||ni-||ni- … -pi|
Object of transitive verbs
|first person||ma-||uŋ(k)- … -pi|
|second person||ni-||ni- … -pi|
Example: waŋwíčhayaŋke "He looked at them" from waŋyáŋkA "to look at something/somebody."
Subject and object pronouns in one verb
If both the subject and object need to be marked, two affixes occur on the verb. Below is a table illustrating this. Subject affixes are marked in italics and object affixes are marked in underline. Some affixes encompass both subject and object (such as čhi- ...). The symbol ø indicates a lack of marking for a particular subject/object (as in the case of 3rd Person Singular forms). Cells with three forms indicate Class I, Class II, and Class III verb forms in this order.
|me||you (sg.)||him/her/it; them (inanimate)||us||you (pl.)||them (animate)|
|I||čhi-1 ...||waø- ...|
|čhi- ... -pi||wiĉhawa- ...|
|you (sg.)||maya- ...|
|uŋya- ... -pi|
uŋl- ... -pi
uŋn- ... -pi
|he/she/it||maø- ...||niø- ...||øø- ...||uŋ(k)ø- ... -pi||niø- ... -pi||wičhaø- ...|
|we||uŋni-3 ... -pi||uŋ(k)ø- ... -pi||uŋni- ... -pi||wičhauŋ(k)-4 ... -pi|
|you (pl.)||maya- ... -pi|
mayal- ... -pi
mayan- ... -pi
|yaø- ... -pi|
lø- ... -pi
nø- ... -pi
|uŋya- ... -pi5|
uŋl- ... -pi
uŋn- ... -pi
|wičhaya- ... -pi|
wičhal- ... -pi
wičhan- ... -pi
|they||ma- ... -pi||ni- ... -pi||... -øpi||uŋ- ... -pi||ni- ... -pi||wičha- ... -pi|
Example: uŋkánipȟepi "We are waiting for you" from apȟé "to wait for somebody."
Example: iwíčhauŋkičupi "We took them" from ičú "to take something/somebody."
Some enclitics indicate the aspect, mood, or number of the verb they follow. There are also various interrogative enclitics, which in addition to marking an utterance as a question show finer distinctions of meaning. For example, while he is the usual question-marking enclitic, huŋwó is used for rhetorical questions or in formal oratory, and the dubitative wa functions somewhat like a tag question in English (Rood and Taylor 1996; Buchel 1983). (See also Men and women's speech below.)
A small number of enclitics (approximately eight) differ in form based on the gender of the speaker. Yeló (men) ye (women) mark mild assertions. Kštó (women only according to most sources) marks strong assertion. Yo (men) and ye (women) mark neutral commands, yeto (men) and nito (women) mark familiar, and ye (both men and women) and na mark requests. He is used by both genders to mark direct questions, but men also use huo in more formal situations. So (men) and se (women) mark dubitative questions (where the person being asked is not assumed to know the answer).
While many native speakers and linguists agree that certain enclitics are associated with particular genders, such usage may not be exclusive. That is, individual men sometimes use enclitics associated with women, and vice versa (Trechter 1999).
Examples of enclitic usage
|ktA||irrealis||uŋyíŋ kte||"you and I will go" (future)|
|šni||negative||hiyú šni||"he/she/it did not come out"|
|s’a||repeating||eyápi s’a||"they often say"|
|seca||conjecture||ú kte séče||"he might come"|
|yelo||assertion (masc)||blé ló||"I went there (I assert)"|
|ye||assertion (fem)||hí yé||"he came (I assert)"|
|he||interrogative||Taku koyakipa he?||"What do you fear?"|
|huwo||interrogative (masc. formal)||Tokiya lá huwó?||"Where are you going?"|
|huwe||interrogative (fem. formal, obsolete)||Takula huwé?||"What is it?"|
|waŋ||dubative question||seca waŋ||"can it be as it seems?"|
|ške||evidential||yá-ha ške||"he was going, I understand"|
|keye||evidential (hearsay)||yápi kéye||"they went, they say"|
The term "ablaut" refers to the tendency of some words to change their final vowel in certain situations. Compare these sentences.
Šúŋka kiŋ sápa čha waŋbláke.
Šúŋka kiŋ sápe.
Šúŋka kiŋ sápiŋ na tȟáŋka.
The last vowel in the word "SápA" changed each time. This vowel change is called "ablaut". Words which undergo this change are referred to as A-words, since, in dictionary citations, they are written ending in either -A or -Aŋ. These words are never written with a final capital letter in actual texts. Derivatives of these words generally take the ablaut as well, however there are exceptions.
There are three forms for ablauted words: -a/-aŋ, -e, -iŋ. These are referred to as a/aŋ-ablaut, e-ablaut, and iŋ-ablaut respectively. Some words are ablauted by some and not others, like "gray" hóta or hótA. Ablaut always depends on what word follows the ablauted word.
This is the basic form of the word, and is used everywhere in which the other forms are not utilized.
There are two cases in which e-ablaut is used.
Heciya ye He went there. (e-ablaut of the verb yÁ)
Yute She ate it. (e-ablaut of the verb yútA)
Tipi kiŋ paha akaŋl he. The house stands on a cliff. (e-ablaut of the verb hÁŋ)
There are three classes of words which trigger e-ablaut
a) various enclitics, such as ȟča, ȟčiŋ, iŋčhéye, kačháš, kiló, kštó, któ, lakȟa, -la, láȟ, láȟčaka, ló, séčA, sékse, s’eléčheča, so, s’a, s’e, šaŋ, šni, uŋštó
b) some conjunctions and articles, such as kiŋ, kiŋháŋ, k’éaš, k’uŋ, eháŋtaŋš
c) some auxiliary verbs, such as kapíŋ, kiníča (kiníl), lakA (la), kúŋzA, phiča, ši, wačhíŋ, -yA, -khiyA
Škáte šni. He did not play. (enclitic) Škáte s’a. He plays often. (enclitic) Škáte ló. He plays. (enclitic (marking assertion)) Okȟáte eháŋtaŋš... If it is hot... (conjunction) Sápe kiŋ The black one (definite article) Glé kúŋze. He pretended to go home. (auxiliary verb) Yatké-phiča. It is drinkable. (auxiliary verb)
The iŋ-ablaut (pronounced i by some) occurs only before the following words:
kte (irrealis enclitic)
yeto (familiar command enclitic)
na, nahaŋ (and)
naiŋš (or, and or)
ye (polite request or entreaty enclitic)
Waŋyáŋkiŋ yeto. Take a look at this, real quick. Yíŋ kte. She will go. Skúyiŋ na wašté. It was sweet and good. Waŋyáŋkiŋ yé. Please, look at it.
"Hau, kola", literally, "Hello, friend," is the most common greeting, and was transformed into the generic motion picture American Indian "How!", just as the traditional feathered headdress of the Teton was "given" to all movie Indians. As "hau" is the only word in Lakota which contains a diphthong, /au/, it may be a loanword from a non-Siouan language.
"Hau" is spoken only by men; women use the greeting "Haŋ" or "Haŋ kolá."
Other than using the word friend, one typically uses the word "cousin" or "cross-cousin" since everyone in the tribe was as family to each other. These words are very important to the language's tone of proper respect. The terms are as follow:
"Taŋhaŋši" N - my male cross-cousin (man speaking, term of address)
"Taŋhaŋšitku" N - his male cross-cousin
"Taŋhaŋšiya" V-CAUSATIVE - to have someone for a male cross-cousin
"Haŋkaši" N - my female cross-cousin (man speaking, term of address)
"Haŋkašitku" N - his female cross-cousin
"Haŋkašiya" V-CAUSATIVE - to have someone for a female cross-cousin
"(S)cephaŋši" N - my female cross-cousin (woman speaking, term of address)
"(S)cepȟaŋšitku" N - her female cross-cousin
"(S)čepaŋšiya" V-CAUSATIVE - to have someone for a female cross-cousin
"šic'eši" N - my male cross-cousin (woman speaking, term of address)
"šic'ešitku" N - her male cross-cousin
"šic'ešiya" V-CAUSATIVE - to have someone for a male cross-cousin
"Hakataku" N - her brothers and male cross cousins, his sisters and female cross-cousins (i.e. relative requiring respect)
"Hakataya" V-CAUSATIVE - to have someone for a sibling or cross-cousin of the opposite sex
Assimilating indigenous tribes into the expanding American society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries depended on suppression or full eradication of each tribe's unique language as the central aspect of its culture. Government boarding schools that separated tribal children from their parents and relatives enforced this assimilation process by corporal punishment for speaking tribal languages (Powers). The Lakota language survived this suppression. "Lakota persisted through the recognized natural immersion afforded by daily conversation in the home, the community at reservation-wide events, even in texts written in the form of letters to family and friends. people demonstrated their cultural resilience through the positive application of spoken and written Lakota." (Powers)
Even so, employment opportunities were based on speaking English; a Lakota who was bilingual or spoke only English was more likely to be hired. (Powers)
 In the 1980s and 1990s, Albert White Hat Sr. was a Lakota educator, author, tribal and spiritual leader and respected elder. He only spoke Lakota until age seven. He was one of the biggest activists of his time for saving and preserving the Lakota language and traditions. He wrote and published a Lakota textbook and glossary. He died in 2013.
In 2004 five Lakota tribes (Pine Ridge, Standing Rock, Rosebud, Cheyenne River and Lower Brule) united with second-language education professionals and academic linguists to form the Lakota Language Consortium, to produce and implement a comprehensive educational effort to standardize and professionalize Lakota language teaching in tribal and neighboring public and parochial schools. This inter-tribal movement has resulted in sequenced textbooks, audio materials, reference books and professional teacher trainings that create a new Lakota-centered career path. In November 2012, the incoming president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Bryan Brewer, announced that he intended "to lead a Lakota Language Revitalization Initiative that will focus on the creation and operation of Lakota language immersion schools and identifying all fluent Lakota speakers." A Lakota language immersion daycare center is scheduled to open at Pine Ridge.
As of 2012[update], Lakota immersion classes are provided for children in an experimental program at Sitting Bull College on the Standing Rock Reservation, where children speak only Lakota for their first year (Powers). As of 2014[update], it is estimated that about five percent of children aged four to six on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation speak Lakota.
Lakota speakers can upload photos with Lakota language audio descriptions at the LiveAndTell website.
In 2011, Sitting Bull College (Fort Yates, North Dakota, Standing Rock) and the University of South Dakota began degree programs to create effective Lakota language teachers. By earning a Bachelor of Arts in Education at the University of South Dakota or a Bachelor of Science in Education at Sitting Bull College, students can major in "Lakota Language Teaching and Learning" as part of the Lakota Language Education Action Program, or LLEAP.
LLEAP is a four-year program designed to create at least 30 new Lakota language teachers by 2014, and was funded by $2.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the initial phase, SBC and USD will permanently offer the Lakota Language Teaching and Learning degree as part of their regular undergraduate Education curriculum. The current LLEAP students' tuition and expenses are covered by the grant from the U.S. Department of Education. LLEAP is the first program of its kind, offering courses to create effective teachers in order to save a Native American language from going extinct, and potentially educate the 120,000 prospective Lakota speakers in the 21st century.
In 1990, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) sponsored the Native American Languages Act in order to preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedoms of Native people in America to practice, develop and conduct business in their native language. This Act reversed over 200 years of American policy that would have otherwise eliminated the indigenous languages of the United States. This legislation gave support to tribal efforts to fund language education programs.
Some resources exist for self-study of Lakota by a person with no or limited access to native speakers. Here is a collection of selected resources currently available:
Just as people from different regions of countries have accents, Lakota Native Americans who speak English have some distinct speech patterns. These patterns are displayed in their grammatical sequences and can be heard through some phonological differences. These unique characteristics are also observed in Lakota youth, even those who only learned English.
|Lakota language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|