Louisiana French

This kind of French is interesting just because of the varieties that influenced it but also because of the misconception about Acadien French forming the basis of LA French. LA French already existed before the Acadiens were deported or transported to Louisiana, Acadien French is distinct from LA French. LA French has tons of features that make it unique such as its pronoun system, in the plural forms, it tends to use “eutres” after the object form “eux/vous”, and LAF almost exclusively uses “on” for the first person plural form. Other varieties of French also use “on” a great deal, but LA French tends to only use “nous” in formal instances. Louisiana and East TX’s French had probably three different “r”s in existence, the typical American “r”, the rolled “r” (alveolar flap/trill), and in some places, even the uvular fricative used in International French. Louisiana also has a good portion of vocabulary that is unique to it such as “asteur”, “charrer” or the famous saying “laissez les bons temps rouler!” Louisiana French had two main varieties, the formal register known as Plantation Society French, and the everyday register, which is synonymous with Cajun French. Louisiana French is believed to have been very close to Missouri or Paw Paw French, which is a moribund variety. The variety started dying out after the 50s, since it was believed that if families raised their children solely in English that they’d have a more successful life in the US, this lead to a sharp decline and there are very few young native speakers. A combination of different factors like legislation banning the French language in Louisiana, the growth of jobs in the English-only oil industry, and corporal punishment for children speaking the language. CODOFIL was formed in 1969 with the purpose of revitalizing the language and encouraging its use, but how successful the language has been in making a comeback is up for debate. The two varieties of French are known to be mutually intelligible to a large extent.

A Lang a day: Buwandik

Buwandik is a language in the Pama-Nyungan language group and is considered extinct in that there are no native speakers. It was formerly spoken in the area around Mount Gambier, South Australia and east over the border into Victoria, Australia. Bunganditj is fairly typical of a Pama-Nyungan language in its sound system and grammar. There is a compilation of its grammar, vocabulary, and syntax in a book written by Barry Blake. It is being revitalized by Buwandik descendants and has a good amount of material documented. The community has repurposed and coined new words for everyday use in the 21st century. I have thought about making a crash course for this language based on the material, let me know if you’re interested in such a resource.

Resources for Buwandik

The Bunganditj (Buwandik) language of the Mount Gambier Region – Barry J. Blake


The reawakening of Craitbul: The revival of the Boandik language of Mount Gambier – Dr. Mary-Anne Gale


Maya language verbs, adjectives & noun forms (with pronouns (I, you, “my”, “your”, etc.))

The Mayan language has a very interesting way of conjugating verbs is very similar to the way that most European languages (like Spanish, Russian, Italian) do. Expressing an adjective using these forms uses a different system then the one for verbs and nouns. Saying “I am/You are hungry”, for example (e.g. “wi’ijen, wi’ijech”, would only use suffixes at the end to express that you are hungry.

The system for verbs is a little more complex and works like a quase-circumfix (a sort of “suffix”, but surrounding the initial word expressed, but in plural it is a full circumfix) in that to say “my door” or “his door” you would say it with “in” (my) or “u” (his) in the first position, and “otoch” (house) would be in the middle, and then the ending suffix, so the forms would come out as “in wotoch” or “u yotoch”.

Plural forms like saying “our house” or “their house” would surround the entire word like “in wotocho’on” and “u wotocho’ob”. There are additional rules depending on if the word begins in a consonant, or ends in a vowel but we will cover this in future blog posts. This is the general declension of forms in Mayan pronouns.


Regular adjective forms in Maya

Pronoun Word (“high”, “tall”)
Tene (I) ka’analen
Teche (You singular) ka’analech
Leti’e (He/she) ka’anal
To’one (We/us) ka’analo’on
Te’exe ka’anale’ex
Leti’ob ka’analo’ob (final “b” not pronounced)

Regular noun forms in Maya

Possessive prefix Word (“House”)
In wotoch
A wotoch
U yotoch
In (We/us) wotocho’on
A wotoche’ex
U yotocho’ob (final “b” not pronounced)

The same forms used for expressing a state with an adjective (“I am high up”, “I am hungry”) is also used for verbs.

Regular verb forms in Maya

Possessive prefix Word (“To say”)
In wa’alik
A wa’alik
U ya’alik
In (We/us) wa’aliko’on
A wa’alike’ex
U ya’aliko’ob (final “b” not pronounced)

The Nez Perce language – Niimiipuutímt

Their language means “the walking language”, and their demonym is “Niimi’ipuu” meaning “the walking people”. This tribe was lead by their Chief Joseph (hinmatóoyalahtq’it – “thunder traveling to higher areas”) in the Nez Perce war of the 1870s, where they were literally corned by the US army in retaliation for attempting to escape to Canada. Afterwards, the consequences of this war ultimately lead to the gradual demise of their language. Today, it is spoken by fewer than 100 people, mostly elders. Fortunately, the Nez Perce has been able to maintain and rebuild much of their culture, including Salmon fishing, the Nez Perce horse breeding program. 

Their language has some interesting sounds such as an affricate lateral fricative [tɬʼ], many types of ejectives [p’], [t’], [k’], [kʼʷ], [qʼʷ], and [q’] (similar to Amharic, Ethiopia’s national language), as well as glottalized sonorants [m’], [n’], [l’], [j’], [w’]. The language also has signs of ergativity, which may or may not be similar to that of Basque and Georgian. The sentence order of Nez Perce is very free, unlike our strict Subject-Verb-Object syntax in English. Nez Perce has 3 grammatical cases, marked by transitivity.

A dictionary, a grammar book, and two dissertations have been published on their language. Although the dictionary by Aoki is over $400 USD as of May 2018, there is an older, free dictionary. 

For more information on resources or about the Nez Perce language, do not hesitate to contact us.

Free Nez Perce dictionary

Videos to learn some Nez Perce:

An elder speaking Nez Perce with an English explanation after:

Aoki, Haruo. (1970). Nez Perce grammar. University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 62). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-09259-7. (Reprinted 1973, California Library Reprint series).

Haruo, Aoki (1994). Nez Perce Dictionary

The last Wukchumni speaker

This language, only has one native and fluent speaker left, Marie Wilcox. She spent many years making a dictionary, available in both written and oral form. She has been teaching the language on a weekly basis to interested members of the tribe. 

The language belongs to the Yokutsan language group, a language group native to California’s San Joaquin Valley, an area in central-south California. Wukchumni is specifically a dialect of a larger language called Tule-Kaweah Yokuts, presumably mutually intelligible dialects. The other two dialects have unfortunately died out. We will write some information on Wukchumni’s features in future articles.

Check out the “Who speaks Wukchumni” video under the references for more information on this woman 

Gilpin, C. (2018, March 22). The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Teaching With: “Who Speaks Wukchumni?” – The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2018

Vaughn-Lee, E. (Director). (2014). Who Speaks Wukchumni? [Video file]. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
Documentary about the last native speaker of Wukchumni and her efforts to keep the language alive.

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