|Native to||United States|
Distribution of the Shawnee language around 1650
The Shawnee language is a Central Algonquian language spoken in parts of central and northeastern Oklahoma by the Shawnee people. It was originally spoken in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. It is closely related to other Algonquian languages, such as Mesquakie-Sauk (Sac and Fox) and Kickapoo.
- 1 Status
- 2 Sounds
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Morphology
- 5 Grammar
- 6 Person, Number, and Gender
- 7 Orthography
- 8 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Though Ethnologue has not yet listed Shawnee as a nearly extinct language, it is certainly threatened due to the fact that many of the approximately 200 remaining speakers are older adults, and it may be shifting to English as a result of the tribe's close geographic proximity to English speakers for over 100 years.  It is also possible that the decline in usage of Shawnee is the result of reform schools for Native American children that forced an education in English, causing some Native Americans to cease teaching their languages to children.
Of the 2,000 members of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe around Shawnee town, more than 100 are speakers; of the 1,500 members of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in Ottawa County there are only a few elderly speakers; of the 8,000 members of the Loyal Shawnee in the Cherokee region of Oklahoma around Whiteoak there are fewer than 12 speakers. All of these low figures, in addition to the fact that most speakers are older adults, make Shawnee an endangered language. Additionally, development outside of the home is limited; apart from a dictionary and portions of the Bible from 1842-1929 it appears that there is little literature or technology support for Shawnee.
Stress in Shawnee falls on the final syllable of a word.
Shawnee has six vowels, three of which are high, and three are low.
High- i i: o
Low- e a a:
Shawnee consonants are shown in the chart below.
- Consonant Length
- /k/ and /kk/ contrast in the following verbal affixes
when (I) hide him
when (I) hide them
These affixes (-ki, -kki) are object markers in the Transitive Animate Subordinate Mode. The subject is understood.
A word may not begin with a vowel. Instead, an on-glide [h] is added. For example:
There are two variants of the article "-oci", meaning from. It can attach to nouns to form prepositional phrases, or it can also be a preverb. When it attaches to a noun, it is "-ooci," and when attached to a preverb it is "-hoci."
oklahooma niila hoci-lenawe
Oklahoma 1 from-live
I'm from Oklahoma
[t] is inserted between two vowels at morpheme boundary.
As we know from the phonological rule stated above, a word may not begin with a vowel in Shawnee. From the morphophonological rule above, we can assume that [h]~[t].
"-eecini(i)" meaning Indian agent appears as "hina heecini" or that Indian agent, and as "ho-[t]eecinii-ma-waa-li, meaning he was their Indian agent. The [t] of "ho-[t]-" fills the open slot that would otherwise have to be filled with [h].
A short vowel preceding another short vowel at a morpheme boundary is deleted.
hina + -ene ( > hinene)
that + -Xtimes
at that time period, then
melo'kami -eke ( > melo'kameke)
When a long vowel and a short vowel come together at a morpheme boundary, the short vowel is deleted.
ho-staa-ekw-a -li ( > ho-staa-koo-li)
he built (him) (a house)
kaa -ki -noot-en -aa-maa-ekw-a ( > kaakinootenaamaakwa)
(he) signed by hand (to me) (repeatedly)
Shawnee shares many grammatical features with other Algonquian languages. There are two third persons, proximate and obviative, and two noun classes (or genders), animate and inanimate. It is primarily agglutinating typologically, and is polysynthetic, resulting in a great deal of information being encoded on the verb. The most common word order is Verb-Subject.
Person, Number, and Gender
The basic distinction for gender in Shawnee is between animate actors and inanimate objects.
- Nouns are in two gender classes, inanimate and animate; the latter includes all persons, animals, spirits, and large trees, and some other objects such as tobacco, maize, apple, raspberry (but not strawberry), calf of leg (but not thigh), stomach, spittle, feather, bird's tail, horn, kettle, pipe for smoking, snowshoe. 
Grammatical gender in Shawnee is more accurately signaled by the phonology, not the semantics.
Nouns ending in /-a/ are animate, while nouns ending in /-i/ are inanimate.  It should be noted that this phonological criterion is not absolute. Modification by a demonstrative ("hina" being animate and "hini" being inanimate, meaning that) and pluralization are conclusive tests.
In the singular, Shawnee animate nouns end in /-a/, and the obviative singular morpheme is /-li/.
Shawnee inanimate nouns are usually pluralized with stem +/-ali/.
This causes animate obviative singular and inanimate plural to look alike on the surface.
animate obviative singular
- Shawnee nouns can be singular or plural. Inflectional affixes in the verb stem that cross-reference objects are often omitted if inanimate objects are involved. Even if an inflectional affix for the inanimate object is present, it usually does not distinguish number. For example, in the TI paradigm (animate>inanimate) when there is a second or third person plural subject, object markers are present in the verb stem, but they are number-indifferent. Overt object markers are omitted for most other subjects. In the inverse situation, (animate<inanimate) the inanimate participants are not cross-referenced morphologically. 
The choice of person affix may depend on the relative position of Agent and Object on the Animacy Hierarchy. According to Dixon  the animacy hierarchy extends from first person pronoun, second person pronoun, third person pronoun, proper nouns, human common nouns, animate common nouns, and inanimate common nouns.
The affixes in the verb will reflect whether an animate agent is acting on someone or something lower in the animacy scale, or whether he is being acted upon by someone or something lower in the animacy scale.
During the 19th century a short-lived Roman-based alphabet was designed for Shawnee by the missionary Jotham Meeker. It was never widely used. Later, native Shawnee speaker Thomas 'Wildcat' Alford devised a highly phonemic and accurate orthography for his 1929 Shawnee translation of the four gospels of the New Testament, but it, too, never attained wide usage.
- Shawnee reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- "Shawnee: A Matter of Funding". PBS. 2009-04-13. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/native_now/language_shawnee. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- "Shawnee Language Classes". Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- "Say it in Shawnee!". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- "Learn Shawnee - Learn Shawnee Language". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- Andrew, Kenneth Ralph. Shawnee Grammar. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1994
- Mithun, Marianne (2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9.
- Bloomfield 1946:449-50; punctuation as in the original
- Chrisley 1992:9
- Andrew, Kenneth Ralph. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses; 1994.
- Dixon 1979:85-6
- Alford, Thomas Wildcat. 1929. The Four Gospels of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Shawnee Indian Language. Xenia, Ohio: Dr. W. A. Galloway.
- Andrews, Kenneth. 1994. Shawnee Grammar. Unpublished Dissertation, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
- Costa, David J. 2001. Shawnee Noun Plurals. Anthropological Linguistics 43: 255-287.
- Costa, David J. 2002. Preverb Usage in Shawnee Narratives. In H. C. Wolfart, ed., Papers of the 33rd Algonquian Conference, 120-161. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.
- Gatschet, Albert S. "Shawnee words, phrases, sentences and texts 1890-1892". Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- Voegelin, Carl F. 1935. Shawnee Phonemes. Language 11: 23-37.
- Voegelin, Carl F. 1936. Productive Paradigms in Shawnee. Robert H. Lowie, ed., Essays in Anthropology presented to A. L. Kroeber 391-403. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Voegelin, Carl F. 1938-40. Shawnee Stems and the Jacob P. Dunn Miami Dictionary. Indiana Historical Society Prehistory Research Series 1: 63-108, 135-167, 289-323, 345-406, 409-478 (1938–1940). Indianapolis.