Yurok language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Yurok
Puliklah
Region Northwestern California, U.S.
Ethnicity Yurok
Native speakers
Last native speaker, Archie Thompson, died in 2013.
17 fluent L2 speakers  (2013)[1]
language revival in progress[1]
Algic
  • Yurok
Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yur
Glottolog yuro1248[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Yurok language (also Chillula, Mita, Pekwan, Rikwa, Sugon, Weitspek, Weitspekan) is an endangered Algic language.[3] It is the traditional language of the Yurok tribe of Del Norte County and Humboldt County on the far North Coast of California, U.S., most of whom now speak English. The last native speaker died in 2013.[1] As of 2012, Yurok language classes are taught at the high school level, and other revitalization efforts are expected to increase the population of speakers.[4]

The standard reference on the Yurok language is the grammar by Robins (1958).[5]

Name[edit]

Concerning etymology of Yurok (AKA Weitspekan), this below is from Campbell (1997):

Yurok is from Karuk yúruk meaning literally 'downriver'. The Yurok traditional name for themselves is Puliklah (Hinton 1994:157), from pulik 'downstream' + -la 'people of', thus equivalent in meaning to the Karuk name by which they came to be known in English (Victor Golla, personal communication)." (Campbell 1997:401, notes #131 & 132)
The connection of Wiyot and Yurok in northern California (which together were formerly called Ritwan, after Dixon and Kroeber's [1913] grouping of the two as one of their more remote Californian stocks) with Algonquian was first proposed by Sapir (1913) and was quite controversial at that time (see Michelson 1914, 1915; Sapir 1915a, 1915b; see also Chapter 2), but the relationship has subsequently been demonstrated to the satisfaction of all (see Haas 1958; Teeter 1964a; Goddard 1975, 1979, 1990). Before 1850 the Yurok lived on the lower Klamath River. The Wiyot (earlier called Wishosk) lived in the Humboldt Bay area, in the redwood belt; the last fully fluent speaker died in 1962 (Teeter 1964b). Many scholars have commented that although Wiyot and Yurok are neighbors in northern California, they seem not to have a closer relationship with each other than either has with Algonquian...." (Campbell 1997:152).

History[edit]

Decline of the language began during the California Gold Rush, due to the influx of new settlers and the diseases they brought with them. Boarding schools initiated by the United States government with the intent of incorporating the native populations of America into mainstream American society increased the rate of decline of the language.[6]

Current status[edit]

The program to revive Yurok has been lauded as the most successful language revitalization program in California.[7] As of 2014, there are six schools in Northern California that teach Yurok - 4 high schools and 2 elementary schools. Rick Jordan, principle of Eureka High School, one of the schools with a Yurok Language Program, remarks on the impact that schools can have on the vitality of a language, “A hundred years ago, it was our organizations that were beating the language out of folks, and now we’re trying to re-instill it - a little piece of something that is much larger than us”.[8]

The last known native, active speaker of Yurok, Archie Thompson, died March 26, 2013. "He was also the last of about 20 elders who helped revitalize the language over the last few decades, after academics in the 1990s predicted it would be extinct by 2010. He made recordings of the language that were archived by UC Berkeley linguists and the tribe, spent hours helping to teach Yurok in community and school classrooms, and welcomed apprentice speakers to probe his knowledge."[1]

Linguists at UC Berkeley began the Yurok Language Project in 2001. Professor Andrew Garrett and a colleague collaborated with tribal elders on a Yurok dictionary that has been hailed as a national model.[7] The Yurok Language Project has gone much more in depth than just a printed lexicon, however. The dictionary is available online and fully searchable. It is also possible to search an audio dictionary - a repository of audio clips of words and short phrases. For a more in depth study, there is a database of compiled texts where words and phrases can be viewed as part of a larger context.[9]

As of February 2013, there are over 300 basic Yurok speakers, 60 with intermediate skills, 37 who are advanced, and 17 who are considered conversationally fluent.[7] As of 2014, nine people are certified to teach Yurok in schools. Since Yurok, like many other Native American languages, uses a master-apprentice system to train up speakers in the language, having even nine certified teachers would not be possible without a piece of legislation passed in 2009 in the state of California that allows indigenous tribes the power to appoint their own language teachers.[10]

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

|Vowels are as follows:[citation needed]

Front Central Back
High i iː u uː
Mid e ə əː o oː
Low a aː

Consonants[edit]

Consonants are as follows:[citation needed]

Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Postalveolar
or palatal
Velar Glottal
Unrounded Rounded
Stop or
affricate
Plain p t k ʔ
Glottalized tʃʼ kʷʼ
Fricative ɬ ʂ ʃ x h
Nasal Plain m n
Glottalized ˀm ˀn
Approximant Plain l ɻ j ɰ w
Glottalized ˀl ˀɻ ˀj ˀɰ ˀw

Notable is the lack of plain /s/.[citation needed]

The glottalized approximants /ˀl ˀɻ ˀj ˀɰ ˀw/ may be realized as creaky voice on the preceding vowel, a preceding glottal stop, or both. They are often devoiced when they occur at the end of a word.[citation needed]

Yurok has front-, central-, and back-closing diphthongs. The second element of the diphthongs is considered a consonant or semivowel. This is because Yurok diphthongs are falling diphthongs and behave similarly to nasal and approximates following a vowel and preceding a pause or voiceless non-glottalized consonant.[5]


All Yurok Syllables begin with a consonant and contain at least one vowel. Here are some examples of the different kinds of syllable structure:[5]

CV ki will, can
CV: hoː to go
CVC kuʂ when? how?
CV:C kiːɬ redwood tree
CVCC mekʷt͜ʃ snail
CVCCC taʔanojʔɬ it is hot (weather)
CV:CC hoːkʷʼt͜ʃʼ he gambles
CV:CCC noːjt͜ʃʼkʷ he eats as a guest
CCV t͜ʃpi only
CCV: ploːlikin wide
CCVC ɬkeɬ earth
CCVC t͜ʃpaːk late
CCVCC plaʔʂ stick for measuring net meshes
CCV:CC ɬkoːʔm they take
CCVC ɬkjoɻkʷekʼ I look
CCVCCC t͜ʃkʷaʔɻkʼ near
CV:VC ʂoːol yew
CCV:V knuːu hawk

V:V can only be /oːo/ or /uːu/ and is signaled by a change in pitch between the vowels.

Morphology[edit]

Yurok Morphological processes include prefixation, infixtion, inflection, vowel harmony, ablaut, consonantal alternation,[clarification needed] and reduplication.[5]

Prefixation and infixation occur in nominals and verbals, and occasionally in other classes, although infixation occurs most frequently in verbals.

Vowel harmony occurs for prefixes, infixes, and inflections, depending on the vocalic and consonantal structure of the word stem. Internal vocalic alternation involves three alternating pairs: /e/~/i/, /e/~/iʔi/, /e/~/u/.

Reduplication occurs mostly on verb stems but occasionally for nouns and can connote repetition, plurality, etc. Reduplication occurs on the first syllable, and sometimes a part of the second syllable:

Stem Reduplicated form
Verbs
kelomen to turn (trans.) kekelomen to turn several things
ketʼul there is a lake ketʼketʼul there is a series of lakes
kneweʔlon to be long kokoneweʔlon to be long (of things)
ɬkɻʔmɻkɬkin to tie a knot. ɬkɻʔmɬkɻʔmɻkɻɬkin to tie up in knots
ʂjaːɬk to kick ʂjaʔʂjaːɬk to kick repeatedly
tekʷʂ to cut tekʷtekʷʂ to cut up
tikʷohʂ to break (trans.) tikʷtikʷohʂ to break in pieces
Nouns
mɻkʷɻɬ peak mɻkʷɻmɻkʷɻɬ series of peaks
ʂlekʷoh shirt ʂlekʷʂlekʷ clothes

Classifications[edit]

Numerals and adjectives can be classified according to the noun grammatically associated with them.[11]

Numerals Common root frame: /n - hks-/
Human beings /nahkseyl/
Animals and birds /nrhksr?r?y/
Round things /nrhksr?r?y/
Tools /nahksoh/
Plants other than trees /nahksek'wo?n/
Trees and sticks /nahkse?r/
Body parts and clothes /nahkse?n/
Long things /nahksek'/
Flat things /nahksok's/
Houses /nahkse?li/
Boats /nahksey/
Days /nahksemoyt/
Arm's lengths (depth measurements) /nahksemrys/
Finger joint lengths (length measurement of dentalium shells) /nahksepir/
Times /nahksemi/
Adjectives (to be) red (to be) big
Human beings /prkaryr?ry(-)/ /peloy-/
Animals and birds /prkryr?ry(-)/ /plr?ry-/
Round things /prkryrh/ /ploh/, /plohkeloy-/
Tools /pekoyoh/ /peloy-/
Plants other than trees /pekoyoh/ /ploh/, /plohkeloy-/
Trees and sticks /pekoye?r/ /peloy-/, /plep-/
Body parts and clothes /pekoyoh/ /plep-/, /plohkeloy-/
Long things /pekoyoh/ /plep-/
Flat things /pekoyoks-/ /ploks-/
Houses /pekoyoh/ /ple?loy-/
Boats /pekoyoh/ /pleyteloy-/
Water /pekoyop-/ ---

Tense and aspect[edit]

Tense - Yurok has no way to differentiate tense through verbal inflection. Past, present and future may be inferred through both linguistic and nonlinguistic context.

Aspect - Aspect in Yurok is indicated by preverbal particles. These occur either directly or indirectly before a verb. These can combine with verbs and other particles to indicate time and many other aspects.

Some preverbal particles include: ho (past time); kic (past but with ongoing effects); wo (past after a negative, or in “unreal conditions”); ?ap (past with the implication of starting some action); etc.[12]

Basic Syntax[edit]

The most common form of sentence structure consists of a Nominal + Verbal. Indeed, most other, seemingly more complex sentence structures can be viewed as expanding on this fundamental type.[13]

    nek   helomey-   ek
    I     be dancing-1sg
    I am dancing
    pu:k   roʔop’
    deer   run 
    The deer is running

Sentences can also be equational, consisting of two nominals or nominal groups:

    wok          ne-let
    3sg.pro.    1sg poss.-sister
    That is my sister
    woʔot      ku  tmi:gomin
    3sg.pro.  art.  hunter
    He is the hunter

Sentences can also be composed of one or more verbals without nominals as explicit arguments.

    tmo:l-ok’
    to shoot-1sg.infl.
    I am shooting
    hoʔop’-es
    build a fire-2sg.imp.infl.
    Build a fire!

The same is true for nominals and nominal groups, which can stand alone as complete sentences, following a similar pattern to the equational sentences already mentioned.

    kwesi twegoh
    adv.  racoon
    And it was the racoon


Complex sentences are formed along similar principles to these, but with expanded verbals or nominals, or verbals and/or nominals connected by coordinators.

Word order is sometimes used to distinguish between the categories of subject and object.

    ku pegək noʔp’eʔn mewiɬ
    the man  to chase elk
    The man chased the elk.

However, if the morphological inflections are sufficiently unambiguous, it is not necessary to maintain a strict word order.

    nekac new-ohpeʔn ku wencokws
    1sg.Obj. to see-3sg.infl. art. woman
    The woman saw me.

In the sentences composed of a subject and a verb, the two are often interchangeable.

    helom-eʔy ku pegək or  ku pegək helom-eʔy
    to dance-3sg.infl. art. man or art. man to dance-3sg.infl.
    The man dances.


Anomalies[edit]

The counting system in Yurok is dependent on whether round or flat shapes are being counted, or whether humans or animals are being counted.[7]

Yurok also lacks general terms for squirrel, owl, or hawk, but it has names for specific types within those groups.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Romney, Lee (2013-04-07). "Archie Thompson dies at 93: Yurok elder kept tribal tongue alive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yurok". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Campbell (1997:152)
  4. ^ Atherton (2010)
  5. ^ a b c d Robins, Robert H. 1958. The Yurok Language: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon. University of California Publications in Linguistics 15.
  6. ^ "The Yurok Tribe Home Page". Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Romney, Lee. (2013, February 6). Revival of nearly extinct Yurok language is a success story. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2013
  8. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (April 12, 2014). "In California, Saving a Language That Predates Spanish and English". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  9. ^ http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~yurok/web/search.php
  10. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (April 12, 2014). "In California, Saving a Language That Predates Spanish and English". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  11. ^ "Yurok" by R. H. Robins, Lingua. vol. 17
  12. ^ The Yurok Language by R. H. Robins
  13. ^ Robins, Robert H. 1958. The Yurok Language: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon. University of California Publications in Linguistics 15.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blevins, Juliette (October 2003). "The phonology of Yurok glottalized sonorants: Segmental fission under syllabification". International Journal of American Linguistics 69 (4): 371–396. doi:10.1086/382738. 
  • Atherton, Kelley. "Back from the Brink: Learning the Yurok Language". The Daily Triplicate. Published 16 October 2010. Accessed 30 April 2012.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Dixon, Roland; & Kroeber, Alfred L. (1913). New linguistic families in California. American Anthropologist, 5, 1-26.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1975). Algonquian, Wiyot, and Yurok: Proving a distant genetic relationship. In M. D. Kinkade, K. L. Hale, & O. Werner (Eds.), Linguistics and anthropology in honor of C. F. Voegelin (pp. 249–262). Lisse: Peter de Ridder Press.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1979). Comparative Algonquian. In L. Campbell & M. Mithun (Eds.), The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment (pp. 70–132). Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1990). Algonquian linguistic change and reconstruction. In P. Baldi (Ed.), Linguistic change and reconstruction methodology (pp. 99–114). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Golla, Victor. (2011). California Indian Languages. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26667-4
  • Haas, Mary R. (1958). Algonkian-Ritwan: The end of a controversy. International Journal of American Linguistics, 24, 159-173.
  • Hinton, Leanne (1994). Flutes of fire: Essays on Californian Indian languages. Berkeley: Heyday Books.
  • Michelson, Truman. 1914. Two alleged Algonquian languages of California. American Anthropologist, 16, 361-367.
  • Michelson, Truman. 1915. Rejoinder (to Edward Sapir). American Anthropologist, 17, 4-8.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Robins, Robert H. 1958. The Yurok Language: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon. University of California Publications in Linguistics 15.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1913. Wiyot and Yurok, Algonkin languages of California. American Anthropologist, 15, 617-646.
  • Sapir, Edward. (1915)a. Algonkin languages of California: A reply. American Anthropologist, 17, 188-194.
  • Sapir, Edward. (1915)b. Epilogue. American Anthropologist, 17, 198.

External links[edit]