|Native to||United States|
|Region||Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota|
|Extinct||9 December 2016, with the death of Edwin Benson|
Use and revitalization efforts
Mandan is taught at Fort Berthold Community College along with the Hidatsa and Arikara languages. Linguist Mauricio Mixco of the University of Utah has been involved in fieldwork with remaining speakers since 1993. As of 2007, extensive materials in the Mandan language at the college and at the North Dakota Heritage Center, in Bismarck, North Dakota, remained to be processed, according to linguists.
Mandan was initially thought to be closely related to Hidatsa and Crow. However, since Mandan has had language contact with Hidatsa and Crow for many years, the exact relationship between Mandan and other Siouan languages (including Hidatsa and Crow) has been obscured and is currently undetermined. Thus, Mandan is most often considered to be a separate branch of the Siouan family.
Mandan has two main dialects: Nuptare and Nuetare.
Only the Nuptare variety survived into the 20th century, and all speakers were bilingual in Hidatsa. In 1999, there were only six fluent speakers of Mandan still alive. Edwin Benson, the last surviving fluent Mandan speaker, died in 2016.
The language received much attention from White Americans because of the supposedly lighter skin color of the Mandan people, which they speculated was due to an ultimate European origin. In the 1830s Prince Maximilian of Wied spent more time recording Mandan over all other Siouan languages and prepared a comparison list of Mandan and Welsh words (he thought that the Mandan may be displaced Welsh). The idea of a Mandan/Welsh connection was also supported by George Catlin.
Will and Spinden (p. 188) reports that the medicine men had their own secret language.
Mandan has the following consonants:
/w/ and /r/ become [m] and [n] before nasal vowels, and /r/ is [ⁿd] word-initially.
Mandan is a subject–object–verb language.
Mandan has a system of allocutive agreement and so different grammatical forms may be used that depend on the gender of the addressee. Questions asked of men must use the suffix -oʔsha: the suffix -oʔną is used to ask of women. Likewise, the indicative suffix is -oʔsh to address men, -oʔre to address women. The same goes for the imperative: -ta (male), -ną (female).
Mandan verbs include a set of postural verbs, which encode the shapes of the subject of the verb:
|'A pot was there (sitting).'|
|'There was a big village.'|
|'The river was there.'|
The English translations are not "A pot was sitting there," "A big village stood there," or "The river lay there." That reflects the fact that the postural categorization is required in such Mandan locative statements.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2008)
Mandan, like many other North American languages, has elements of sound symbolism in its vocabulary. A /s/ sound often denotes smallness/less intensity, /ʃ/ denotes medium-ness, /x/ denotes largeness/greater intensity:
- síire "yellow"
- shíire "tawny"
- xíire "brown"
- seró "tinkle"
- xeró "rattle"
Compare the similar examples in Lakhota.
- "Edwin Benson, last-known fluent speaker of Mandan, passes away at 85". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
- Bureau, US Census. "Detailed Languages Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English". www.census.gov. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mandan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- The Missoulian. 11 May 2009. Jodi Rave. "The last speaker: UND to honor Mandan, last to speak Nu'eta as 1st language."
- "Last known fluent Mandan speaker honored". News From Indian Country. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "Rancher, linguist working to preserve Mandan language". News From Indian Country. 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- Personal communication from Mauricio Mixco in 1999, reported in Parks & Rankin. 2001. p. 112.
- Skurzewski, Joe (December 9, 2016). "Edwin Benson, last-known fluent speaker of Mandan, passes away at 85". kfyrtv.com. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Chafe. 1976b. p. 37-38.
- Catlin, G. Die Indianer Nordamerikas Verlag Lothar Borowsky
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