|Native speakers||100 fluent speakers (2013)|
Pre-contact distribution of the Kiowa language
Kiowa // is a Tanoan language spoken by the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma in primarily Caddo, Kiowa, and Comanche counties. The Kiowa tribal center is located in Carnegie. Like most North American languages, Kiowa is an endangered language.
Laurel Watkins noted in 1984 based on Parker McKenzie's estimates that only about 400 people (mostly over the age of 50) could speak Kiowa and that only rarely were children learning language. A more recent figure from McKenzie is 300 adult speakers of "varying degrees of fluency" reported by Mithun (1999) out of a 12,242 Kiowa tribal membership (US Census 2000).
The Intertribal Wordpath Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving native languages of Oklahoma, estimates the maximum number of fluent Kiowa speakers as of 2006 to be 400. A 2013 newspaper article estimated 100 fluent speakers.
Classes and revitalization efforts
The Kiowa Tribe offers weekly language classes at the Jacobson House, a non-profit Native American center in Norman, Oklahoma. Dane Poolaw and Carol Williams teach the language using Parker McKenzie's method.
Alecia Gonzales (Kiowa-Apache, 1926–2011), who taught at USAO, created a Kiowa teaching grammar called, Thaum khoiye tdoen gyah: beginning Kiowa language. A Kiowa language book of trickster stories, Saynday Kiowa Indian Children’s Stories, was published in 2013.
The 23 consonants of Kiowa:
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal Plosive and
voiced b d ɡ voiceless p t ts k ʔ aspirated pʰ tʰ kʰ ejective pʼ tʼ tsʼ kʼ Fricative voiceless s h voiced z Nasal m n Approximant (w) l j
Kiowa distinguishes six vowel qualities, with three distinctive levels of height and a front-back contrast. All six vowels may be long or short, oral or nasal. Four of the vowels occurs as diphthongs with a high front off-glide of the form vowel + /j/.
The 24 Kiowa vowels:
|/pʰ/||[pʰí]||'fire; hill; heavy'|
The ejective and aspirated stops are articulated forcefully. The unaspirated voiceless stops are tense, while the voiced stops are lax.
The voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ is pronounced [š] before /y/
The lateral /l/ is realized as [l] in syllable-initial position, as lightly affricated [ɫ] in syllable-final position and slightly devoiced in utterance-final position. It occurs seldom in word-initial position.
|gúldɔ||[gúɫdɔ]||'be red, painted'|
The dental resonants /l/ and /n/ are palatalized before /i/.
All consonants may begin a syllable but /l/ may not occur word-initially. The only consonants which may terminate a syllable are /p,t,m,n,l,y/.
Certain sequences of consonant and vowel do not occur: dental and alveolar obstruents preceding /i/ (tʼi, tʰi, ti, di, kʼi, ki, si, zi). Velars and /y/ preceding /e/ (kʼe, kʰe, ke, ge, ye).
The glide /y/ automatically occurs between all velars and /a/.
Nasalization of voiced stops operates automatically only within the domain of the pronominal prefixes: voiced stops become the corresponding nasals either preceding or following a nasal. The velar nasal that is derived from /g/ is deleted; there is no /ŋ/ in Kiowa.
Underlying /ia/ surfaces in alternating forms as /ya/ following velars, as /a/ following labials and as /i:/ if accompanied by falling tone.
Obstruents are devoiced in two environments: in syllable-final position and following a voiceless obsturent. Voiced stops are devoiced in syllable-final position without exception. In effect, the rule applies only to /b/ and /d/ since velars are prohibited in final position.
The palatal glide /y/ spreads across the laryngeals /h/ and /ʔ/, yielding a glide onset, a brief moment of coarticulation and a glide release. The laryngeals /h/ and /ʔ/ are variably deleted between sonorants. This also applies across a word boundary.
Kiowa orthography was developed by native speaker Parker McKenzie, who had worked with J. P. Harrington and later with other linguists. The development of the orthography is detailed in Meadows & McKenzie (2001). The tables below show each orthographic symbol used in the Kiowa writing system and its corresponding phonetic value (written IPA).
Vowels Orthography Pronunciation Orthography Pronunciation a a ai aj au ɔ aui ɔj e e i i o o oi oj u u ui uj
The mid-back vowel /ɔ/ is indicated by a digraph vowel au. The four diphthongs indicate the offglide /j/ with the symbol i following the main vowel. Nasal vowels are indicated by underlining the vowel symbol: nasal o is thus o̲. Long vowels are indicated with macron diacritics: long o is thus ō. Short vowels are unmarked. Tone is indicated with diacritics. The acute accent ´ represents high tone, the grave accent ` indicates low tone, and the circumflex ˆ indicates falling tone — these are exemplied on the vowel o as ó (high), ò (low), ô (falling). Since long vowels also have tones, the vowel symbols can have both a macron and a tone diacritic above the macron: ṓ (long high), ṑ (long low), ō̂ (long falling).
Consonants Orthography Pronunciation Orthography Pronunciation b b ch ts f p x tsʼ p pʰ s s v pʼ z z d d l l j t y j t tʰ w w th tʼ h h g ɡ m m c k n n k kʰ q kʼ
The palatal glide [j] that is pronounced after velar consonants g, c, k, q (which are phonetically /ɡ, k, kʰ, kʼ/, respectively) is never written (as it is predictable). There are, however, a few exceptions where g is not followed by a [j] glide, in which case an apostrophe ’ is written after the g as g’. Thus, there is, for example, ga which is pronounced [ɡja] and g’a which is pronounced [ɡa]. The glottal stop /ʔ/ is also never written as it is often deleted and its presence is predictable. A final convention is that pronominal prefixes are always written as separate words instead of being attached to verbs.
Like sub-continent Indian scripts (e.g. Devanagari), the Kiowa alphabet is ordered according to mostly phonetic principles. The Kiowa alphabetical order is shown in the tables above, vowels first, then consonants, reading down the columns, left column then right.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2008)|
Kiowa, like other Tanoan languages, is characterized by an inverse number system. Kiowa has four noun classes. Class I nouns are inherently singular/dual, Class II nouns are inherently dual/plural, Class III nouns are inherently dual, and Class IV nouns are mass or noncount nouns. If the number of a noun is different from its class' inherent value, the noun takes the suffix -gau (or a variant).
Mithun (1999:445) gives as an example chē̲̂ "horse/two horses" (Class I) made plural with the addition of -gau: chē̲̂gau "horses". On the other hand, the Class II noun tṓ̲sè "bones/two bones" is made singular by suffixing -gau: tṓ̲sègau "bone."
Kiowa verbs consist of verb stems that can be preceded by prefixes, followed by suffixes, and incorporate other lexical stems into the verb complex. Kiowa verbs have a complex active–stative pronominal system expressed via prefixes. These prefixes can be followed by incorporated nouns, verbs, or adverbs. Following the main verb stem are suffixes that indicate tense/aspect and mode. A final group of suffixes that pertain to clausal relations can follow the tense-aspect-modal suffixes. These syntactic suffixes include relativizers, subordinating conjunctions, and switch-reference indicators. A skeletal representation of the Kiowa verb structure can be represented as the following:
- incorporated elements
(adverb + noun + verb)
- VERB STEM - tense/aspect-modal
The pronominal prefixes and tense/aspect-modal suffixes are inflectional and required to be present on every verb.
Kiowa verb stems are inflected with prefixes that indicate:
All these of the categories are indicated for only the primary animate participant. If there is, in addition to the primary participant, a second participant (such as in transitive sentences), then the number of the second participant is also indicated. A participant is primary in the following cases:
- A volitional agent participant (i.e. the doer of the action who also has control over the action) is primary if it is the only participant in the clause.
- In two-participant volitional agent/non-agent clauses:
- The non-agent participant is primary when
- the non-agent is not in the first person singular or third person singular AND
- the volitional agent is singular
- The volitional agent participant is primary when
- the non-agent is in the first person singular or third person singular AND
- the volitional agent is non-singular
- The non-agent participant is primary when
The term non-agent here refers to semantic roles including involitional agents, patients, beneficiaries, recipients, experiencers, and possessors.
Intransitive verbs Number Person Singular Dual Plural 1st à- è- 2nd èm- mà- bà- 3rd – è̲- á- Inverse è-
|Volitional Agent Primary Person-Number|
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- This glide is written in Harrington's vocabulary.
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