Karankawa language

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Native to United States
Region Texas coast, from Galveston Island to Corpus Christi
Ethnicity Karankawa people
Extinct 1858
Language codes
ISO 639-3 zkk
Linguist list
Glottolog kara1289[1]
Karankawa lang.png
Pre-contact distribution of the Karankawa language

Karankawa is the extinct, unclassified language of the Texas coast, where the Karankawa people migrated between the mainland and the barrier islands. It was not closely related to other known languages in the area, much of which are also poorly attested, and may have been a language isolate. A couple hundred words are preserved, collected in 1698, 1720, and 1828; in the 1880s, three lists were collected from non-Karankawa who knew some words.

Karankawa has sometimes been included with neighboring languages in a Coahuiltecan family, but that is now thought to be spurious.



Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive normal p t k ʔ
voiced b d d̥ ɡ
Fricative s ʃ x h
Trill r
Nasal m m̥ n
Approximant w l j

Vowels/Nasal Vowels

Front Central Back
Close i (i) u (u)
Mid e (e) ə (ä,ë) ɔ~o (o)
Open a (a)



Though very little can be said for certain regarding the Karankawa language, the following are selected words recorded by contemporary various sources.[3]

  • naatsa "one"
  • haikia "two"
  • dootn habe "ten"
  • a'al "speak"
  • ahaks / alaks "man"
  • ashadee "woman"
  • comcom "water"
  • ahajica "friend"


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Karankawa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ The Karankawa Indians, The Coast People of Texas. p. 88. 
  3. ^ Grant, Anthony P. (1994). "Karankawa linguistic Materials" (PDF). Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics. University of Kansas. 19.