|Native to||United States|
|Region||Northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca|
|Ethnicity||2,220 Makah people (2000 census)|
|Extinct||2002, with the death of Ruth E. Claplanhoo|
The Makah language is the indigenous language spoken by the Makah people. Makah has been extinct as a first language since 2002, when its last fluent native speaker died. However, it survives as a second language, and the Makah tribe is attempting to revive the language, including through preschool classes. The endonymous name for Makah is qʷi·qʷi·diččaq.
Makah is spoken by the Makah people who reside in the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is closely related to Nuu-chah-nulth and Ditidaht, which are languages of the First Nations of the west coast of Vancouver Island on the north side of the strait, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Makah is the only member of the Wakashan language family in the United States, with the other members spoken by in British Columbia, from Vancouver Island to the Central Coast region.
Makah, Nuu-chah-nulth and Ditidaht belong to the Southern Nootkan branch of the Wakashan family. The Northern Wakashan languages, which are Kwak'wala, Heiltsuk-Oowekyala and Haisla, are spoken farther north, beyond the territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people.
The phonemes (distinctive sounds) of Makah are presented below in the Makah alphabet; if the symbol in the native alphabet differs from the IPA symbol, the IPA equivalent will be given in brackets.
|ejective||p̓ [pʼ]||t̓ [tʼ]||k̓ [kʼ]||k̓ʷ [kʷʼ]||q̓ [qʼ]||q̓ʷ [qʷʼ]|
|Affricate||voiceless||c [ts]||ƛ [tɬ]||č [tʃ]|
|ejective||c̓ [tsʼ]||ƛ̓ [tɬʼ]||č̓ [tʃʼ]|
|Fricative||s||ł [ɬ]||š [ʃ]||x||xʷ||x̌ [χ]||x̌ʷ [χʷ]|
There are five "short" vowels (actually lax), written a, e, i, o, and u, and pronounced [ə], [ɛ], [ɪ], [ɔ], and [ʊ]), five "long" vowels (written a·, e·, i·, o·, and u·, and pronounced [a], [æ], [i], [o], and [u]), and six "diphthongs" (written ay, oy, ey, iy, aw, and uy, and pronounced [aj], [ɔj], [e], [iː], [aw], and [uːj]).
“Like other Wakashan languages, Makah inflects verbs for evidentiality, indicating the level and source of the speaker's knowledge about a statement. Some examples are shown in the following table:
|hi·dawʔaƛwa·d||"I hear he found it"||-wa·t, hearsay|
|pu·pu·q̓adʔi||"he's blowing a whistle"||-q̓adi, auditory|
|č̓apaccaqil||"It looks like a canoe"||-caqił, uncertain visual evidence, as trying to make out something at a distance|
|haʔuk̓aƛpi·dic||"I see you ate"||-pi·t, inference from physical evidence|
|dudu·k̓aƛx̌a·š||"He's probably singing"||-x̌a·-š, inferred probability|
Alongside those examples, compare corresponding sentences without the evidentials: hi·dawʔal, "he found it"; č̓apac̓, "it's a canoe"; haʔuk̓alic, "you're eating"; dudu·k̓al, "he's singing".”
The Makah word encodes much information; Davidson (2002) outlines the formal word structure below (pg. 160),
|base||core suffixes||aspect||peripheral suffixes||aspect||clitic sequence|
|expanded unextended word|
The ‘unextended word’ consists of a root (the ‘base’), lexical suffixes, and aspectual suffixes. It carries the ‘dictionary meaning’ of the word, while the clitics represent what can be thought of as ‘inflections’ for other grammatical categories. The unextended word,
-Lexical Suffixes: Come in two varieties; nuclear, which can change the base’s meaning or part of speech, and restrictive, which add to the base’s meaning without altering the word class. The latter include locational and directional suffixes.
-Aspectual Suffixes: While they vary in realization, the extended word can mark for the following aspects,
Perfective, Imperfective, Graduative, Durative, Continuative, Repetitive, & Iterative
The ‘expanded unextended’ word is formed by the addition of a peripheral suffix, which can change the part of speech while and often contains an aspectual value. These suffixes ‘cross-cut’ the core/nuclear distinction. The order of the clitic sequence is as follows,
=Diminutive=Temporal=Causative=Possessive=Passive-Inverse=Tense=Mood=Pronominal=Habitual=3rd Person Plural=Responsive=‘again’
The modal-pronominal clitics are often combined, creating a separate set of pronominal clitics for each mood. Makah marks for the indicative, purposive, quotative, subordinate, inferential, mirative, conditional, relative, content interrogative and polar interrogative moods.
- Makah at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- LOWLANDS-L archives - August 2002, week 4 (#10)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Makah". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Makah Language and the Makah Indian Tribe (Kweedishchaaht, Kweneecheeaht, Macaw, Classet, Klasset)
- Our Language
- Davidson, Matthew (2002). Studies in Southern Wakashan (Nootkan) Grammar. Ph.D. dissertation, SUNY Buffalo, p. 94, p. 161, p. 222, p. 169, p. 320, p. 256, p. 260
- The phoneme inventory and Makah alphabet are from pg. 422 of Renker and Gunther (1990) and from Makah Alphabet
- Renker, Ann M. and Gunther, Erna (1990). "Makah". In "Northwest Coast", ed. Wayne Suttles. Vol. 7 of Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William C. Sturtevant. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
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