Kumeyaay language

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Southern Diegueño
Native toUnited States, Mexico
RegionCalifornia, Baja California
Native speakers
377 in Mexico (2010 census)[1]
40-50 in the United States (2007)[2]
  • Core Yuman
    • Delta–California
      • Kumeyaay
  • Kwatl
Language codes
ISO 639-3dih (as part of Diegueño)
Glottologkumi1248  Tipai
kwat1246  Kwatl

Kumeyaay (Kumiai), also known as Central Diegueño, Kamia, and Campo, is the Native American language spoken by the Kumeyaay people of southern San Diego and Imperial counties in California. Hinton (1994:28) suggested a conservative estimate of 50 native speakers of Kumeyaay. A more liberal estimate (including speakers of Ipai and Tipai), supported by the results of the Census 2000, is 110 people in the US, including 15 persons under the age of 18.[citation needed] There were 377 speakers reported in the 2010 Mexican census, including 88 who called their language "Cochimi".[3]

Kumeyaay belongs to the Yuman language family and to the Delta–California branch of that family. Kumeyaay and its neighbors, Ipai to the north and Tipai to the south, were often considered to be dialects of a single Diegueño language, but the current consensus among linguists seems to be that at least three distinct languages are present within the dialect chain (e.g., Langdon 1990). Confusingly, Kumeyaay is commonly used as a designation both for the central language of this family and for the Ipai-Kumeyaay-Tipai people as a whole. Tipai is also commonly used as a collective designation for speakers of both Kumeyaay and Tipai proper.


In 1999, published documentation for the Kumeyaay language appeared to be limited to a few texts.[4]

As of May 2014, online Kumeyaay language lessons are available.[5] A "dictionary of all five dialects of Kumeyaay spoken in Baja California" is in preparation. Kumeyaay language stories are recorded at the Kumeyaay museum in Tecate.[6]



Bilabial Dental Post-
Lateral Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
nor. pal. nor. lab.
Stop p t k q ʔ
Fricative β s ɬ ɬʲ x
Nasal m n n̠̊ ɲ
Lateral ʎ
Trill r r̠̊
Approximant w l j



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ə o
Open a



  1. ^ INALI (2012) México: Lenguas indígenas nacionales
  2. ^ "Kumiai". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  3. ^ INALI (2012) México: Lenguas indígenas nacionales
  4. ^ (cf. Mithun 1999:578)
  5. ^ Hinton, Leanne. "Kumeyaay 1-10. Hablamos Tipay en el dialecto de Nejí (Xa'a Wa) BCN". Language Acquisition Resource Center, San Diego State. Archived from the original on 2014-10-23. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  6. ^ Jill Replogle (Director) (2014-06-10). "Native Speakers And Linguists Fight To Keep Kumeyaay Language Alive". KNPR. Retrieved 2014-06-21. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  7. ^ a b Langdon, Margaret (1966). A Grammar of Diegueño: The Mesa Grande Dialect.


  • Leanne Hinton. 1994. Flutes of Fire: Essays on California Indian Languages. Heyday Books, Berkeley, California.
  • Langdon, Margaret. 1990. "Diegueño: how many languages?" In Proceedings of the 1990 Hokan–Penutian Languages Workshop, edited by James E. Redden, pp. 184–190. University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge University Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Miller, Amy (2008). Barona inter-tribal dictionary: 'Iipay aa Tiipay aa Uumall. Lakeside, CA: Barona Museum Press. ISBN 9780932653925.
  • Couro, Ted; Christina Hutcheson (1973). Dictionary of Mesa Grande Diegueño; 'Iipay Aa-English/English-'Iipay Aa. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press. LCCN 74206934.
  • Couro, Ted; Margaret Langdon (1975). Let's talk 'Iipay Aa : an introduction to the Mesa Grande Diegueño language. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press. LCCN 75332636.
  • Miller, Amy (2001). A grammar of Jamul Tiipay / Amy Miller. Mouton grammar library. Hawthorne, N.Y: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3110164510.
  • Langdon, Margaret (1970). A grammar of Diegueño; the Mesa Grande dialect. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  • Gorbet, Larry Paul (1976). A grammar of diegueño nominals. New York: Garland Publishing. LCCN 75025116.

External links[edit]