Talk:Sioux language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Indigenous peoples of North America (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Indigenous peoples of North America, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Native Americans, Aboriginal peoples, and related indigenous peoples of North America on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
WikiProject Languages (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Languages, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of standardized, informative and easy-to-use resources about languages on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject South Dakota (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject South Dakota, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the U.S. state of South Dakota on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.

Regional Varieties[edit]

I've generally seen Sioux described as having five, rather than three, regional dialects/languages: Santee-Sisseton, Yankton-Yanktonai, Lakhota, and then also Assiniboine and Stoney, both of which are n varieties (Nakoda). See, for example, the first paragraph at the Language Geek page on Assiniboine, which is a very respectable site. I'm wondering why the two Nakoda varieties aren't listed here. Thanks. --Whimemsz 22:45, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Oh wait. I see that they're all considered Dakotan languages, but there are three regional dialects of Sioux itself. Sorry. --Whimemsz 17:50, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

The language family tree is confusing[edit]

I'm trying to follow the logic in the tree:

  • Siouan-Catawban
    • Siouan
      • Mississippi Valley
        • Dakotan
          • Sioux

Sioux has 3 major regional varieties, with various sub-lects:

  • Santee (a.k.a. Dakota)
    • Santee and Sisseton
  • Yankton (a.k.a. Yankton-Yanktonai, Nakota)
    • Yankton and Yanktonai
  • Lakota (a.k.a. Lakhota, Teton, Teton Sioux)
    • Northern Lakota and Southern Lakota

If Dakota is a subset of Sioux, what does Dakotan before Sioux mean?

ICE77 -- 23:37, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Because, unfortunately, "Dakotan" refers to a branch of the Siouan family that encompasses Sioux, but "Dakota" is a dialect (ish) of Sioux. It's sort of analogous to the fact that the language is called "Sioux" and the entire family is "Siouan" (or like "German" is a member of the "Germanic" family, though that's not quite as confusing). --Miskwito 09:10, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Miskwito, thanks a lot for the explanation. I see the relationship. You have been very helpful.

ICE77 -- 20:47, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

The term "Dakotan" was an attempt of some linguist to come up with a name that would include both Lakota and Dakota because the existing term "Sioux" is viewed as politically incorrect by some. Dakotan, however, is somewhat confusing. It is not very widely accepted in linguistic circles and it is not known to native speakers at all. The Lakota speakers would reject it.
Also, the self-designation of the Yankton-Yanktonai people is not Nakota, but Dakota. This misnomer has been pervasive throughout literature since the mid 19th century. It is explained in detail in the New Lakota Dictionary (page 2).
I corrected this a provided a table comparing the phonological differences between the dialects. Thiyopa (talk) 12:09, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Phonology Section[edit]

I think the phonology section needs a little bit of cleanup... I'm having a little trouble understanding the structure of the section, perhaps a table with the places of articulation and manners of articulation for both vowels and consonants is in order, such as in other language pages? Idet.proverka (talk) 09:04, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Hot damn is that thing a mess. OK, first off, it seems to have been enter'd as a monospace table, but that doesn't quite transmit. With the appropriate wikicode and a few missing tab chars, we get:
 Voiced Consonants B       D       G       Ð       J       Z                       
 Non-aspirated          £       Ú       Ö       Þ                                       
 Voiceless [aspirated]  ¢       Ü       K       P       S       §                       
 Velarized (Guttural)                                                                   
   -Voiceless           Ü       Í       Ó       Å                                       
 Glottal Stops                                                                  
   -Voiced              G’      Æ                                                       
   -Voiceless           ¢’      Ü’      K’      P’      S’      §’      T’              
 Open Breath            H                                                               
 Lateral                *L                                                              
 Nasal                  M       N                                                       
 Semi-Vowels            W       Y

No idea if the velarized eth pairs up with the plain one or something else.

Older revisions tell that this is off of Omniglot but it doesn't help entirely in deciphering this. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 17:08, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

What is adding here is the use of a non UniCode font called "SICCPCFONTS", which I am now trying to track down as the self-unpacking .exe routine available at SICC no longer works. When I find it and see what they're really supposed to be, I will try to put them in UniCode so that we all can make heads or tails with this. CJLippert (talk) 02:05, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I managed to go to the internet archives to get the "SICCPCFONTS" package. It is trying to represent the sounds using the pan-Siouan "White Hat" orthography. Here is the gobbledy-gook to UniCode mapping chart:
B b Ö ö P p Ó ó ÷ × £ ¤ ¢ © Ä ä D d Þ þ
b p p′ c̀′ d
T t Å å Ç ç G g É é Ú ú K k Í í Ø ø Ð ð
t t’ g g’ k k′ ġ
Ü ü ° ¶ H h J j § ß ¹ ¡ L l M m N n Y y
ḣ’ h j s̀′ l m n y
W w Z z Æ æ S s Á á Ñ ñ
w z z′ s s′ η
A a E e I i O o U u
a á e é i í o ó u ú
This brings up an addition that needs to be made. There are basically 8 different orthographies.... 4 biased towards Dakota and 4 biased towards Lakota.... we need a correspondence chart between these 8 systems.CJLippert (talk) 17:26, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Each of the three main Sioux dialects has different phonology and there are minor variations between the sub-dialects as well. So if you wantef to describe the phonology you would have to create three different tables. I suggest that the phonology section is deleted completely and the phonologies are described under the articles of the individual dialects (as is already done under Lakota language). Thiyopa (talk) 12:15, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
The situation with orthographies is even more complex. There are several orthographies in use for each of the dialects although in fact the language is mostly written with a non-phonemic and inconsistent spelling system.
In the past nine years have been some very committed efforts to standardize the orthography for the Lakota language and as a result the prevailing orthography (published in the New Lakota Dictionary) is now used by majority of educational institutions and tribes. The situation with the Dakota dialects remains highly non-standardized, although at least some communities are accepting the phonemic orthography of the new dictionary.
For this reason I suggest that, similar to the phonology section, the orthographies are described under the individual languages. Thiyopa (talk) 12:23, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

I have deleted the content of the phonology section and linked the phonologies of Lakota and Dakota langauge under their respective articles. The phonology section contained numerous inacurracies, among others the following:

  • the table with consonants included some consonants that are not present in any of the dialects (and the whole table was confusing)
  • it claimed that the language has nasal /o/ and long vowels
  • it claimed that stress is almost always on the second syllable
  • the section on clusters was confussing in respect to dialects

Thiyopa (talk) 18:18, 3 August 2009 (UTC)


It's clear to me that some significant clean-up of the article is needed (aside from the easier stuff like wikification and converting text to tables). As I see it, the most important tasks here are the following:

  1. Wikify! :D
  2. Really pare down the number of quotes - in most cases they aren't needed. We should be summarizing the points of sourcing and providing citations, not quoting from each source (unless the quote itself is somehow notable).
  3. We don't need all the info in the "History" and "Ecology" sections (and the title of the latter is very misleading), though a lot of it is quite important. But, "The family most likely reached the United States with the first series of migrants that left Africa 140,000 years ago"? No. We don't need to go all the way back to the Out-Of-Africa theory here; we should start with the Siouan family and go from there. This also isn't the article for demonstrating the reality of the Siouan language family with a cognate table - that would be Siouan languages or Proto-Siouan language.
  4. Clarify the relationships among the varieties of Sioux. Having a section called "Dakota dialects" and referring to the language as "Dakota" within that section is confusing, since the language has earlier been referred to as "Sioux" (and will be for the rest of the article).
  5. There are many places where the writing needs to be made more encyclopedic. "Prior to the white man’s way of writing" isn't encyclopedic. Nor is "they did so as a means to wipe out the Indian, not promote him" or "Fortunately, it appears that in recent years the Dakota language has experienced resurgence." It's not up to us to declare whether the revival efforts of Sioux are a good thing or not (even though I obviously think they are), though we can quote sources which say they are a good thing.
  6. Because there is no commonly-accepted orthography for Sioux, deciding how to transcribe it is a somewhat trickier situation. But the page as it is doesn't mark all the distinctive features of Sioux's phonology, which it should. I'd suggest either simply using the IPA or one of the orthographies that's reasonably common and that represents all distinctive features.
  7. Per CJLippert's suggestion here, I would also recommend making all the citations of the <ref> kind, simply for readability, though I realize that technically full inline citations are in accordance with the Manual of Style.

I'm putting this on the talk page basically because this entails a significant rewrite of a lot of the article, and I suspect it would be too bold of me to undertake that without some consensus first (besides which I don't know all that much about Siouan languages, so I'm hoping someone who does can help out) --Miskwito (talk) 23:50, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Let's just be bold and get started! If some expert comes along they can always fix our efforts... babbage (talk) 20:02, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Comment on point 3: I very much agree with this point 3. Not only the two sections are not needed but they are also based largely on outdated (Riggs) or linguistically unreliable (Robinson, Palmer) publications. There are many more newer and more relevant publications available today. I agree that the history of the language should be under Siouan languages or Proto-Siouan language. Thiyopa (talk) 12:43, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Comment on point 4: I have attempted to do something in respect to point 4 (Clarify the relationships among the varieties of Sioux). I created a table that compares the dialects. I hope it is helpful. Thiyopa (talk) 12:43, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Comment on point 6: I made a comment about on orthography above, in the phonology section. I think IPA should be used only for describing pronunciation but one of the prevailing orthographies should be used for describing the phonology and alphabet. This should, however, be done under the entries of the individual languages since Sioux is really a group of three languages which are "independent" phonetically and politically. The only orthographies that mark all the distinctive sounds are Colorado, New Lakota Dictionary (Ullrich) and White Hat. There have been serious efforts to standardize the Lakota language using the New Lakota Dictionary writing system. The White Hat orthography is over-burdened with diacritics and thus impractical for the purposes of reading and writing. Thiyopa (talk) 12:43, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Major modification[edit]

I suggest that the article is cut short and serves only as a sort of a portal to the tree dialects which I believe to be independent languages. The article would contain only the comparison of the three language and links to three independent articles on those languages.

This is my reasoning:

Ethical background: I think that today nobody speaks the "Sioux" language. The term is outdated and is felt as politically incorrect (and perhaps derogatory) by most speakers of Lakota and Dakota because of its foreign origin. This is true despite the fact that the term is still present in some of the official tribal names and is used by some speakers in informal settings.

Linguistic background: The three dialects differ significantly in their phonology, grammar and lexicon. For this reason the phonology and grammar cannot be described in a simple way, the description would be structurally very complex. Even the mutual intelligibility assumed by speakers is largely overestimated. And even Ethonologue considers Lakota and Dakota as separate languages and a different ISO is given to each. There is already a duplicity in describing the Lakota grammar in both this article and the article on Lakota Language.

Cultural and political background: the three speech communities (Lakota, Yankton-Yanktonai, Sante-Sisseton) are separated geographically, culturally and historically. There are no institutions or organizations making an effort to unit these communities in any respect, the least in respect to the language. Historically, the Eastern Dakota have had very sporadic contact with the Lakota and Western Dakota people in the past two hundred years. Thiyopa (talk) 14:51, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Further suggestions[edit]

I would like to make some comments about the contents of this article.

1. While trying to improve the articles about the Dakota (or Sioux) language in the Italian and French Wikipedia, I came across this quotation of a recent book by Guy E. Gibbon: «Since some dialects are not well studied, in particular Yankton and Yanktonai, the Dakota dialect complex has been divided in various ways by linguists. Some linguists recognize five divisions (Assiniboin, Stoney, Yankton-Yanktonai, Santee (Dakota) and Lakota) and many others only four divisions (Santee (Dakota), Lakota, Yanktonai and Assiniboin). In general usage, the language is broken down into three dialects, Dakota (Santee and Yankton), Nakota (Assiniboin and Yanktonai) and Lakota (Teton). » [Gibbon , Guy E., The Sioux: the Dakota and Lakota nations, Malden, Blackwell Publishers, 2003 (ISBN 1557865663) ]. Nothing about the whole discussion is reported in this article.

2. I have checked on the SIL International’s Language Family Tree of the Siouan tongues, and it reports no more “Sioux” branch after the Dakota one, so as exactly Whimemsz wrote at the beginning of this talk page. The same online source does not exactly corroborate the rest of the contents of this article.

I therefore suggest that the article should be modified in two ways:

a. by reporting a brief history of the different theses which have been upheld in the last decades; b. by making less categorical statements while reporting theses which are not universally accepted.

I wouldn't like to interfere myself both because of my bad English and of my incomplete mastery of the matter.--Jeanambr (talk) 15:32, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

I will take the liberty to disagree with the above suggestion. There are at least two recent and independent studies that confirm the agree on dialect divisions in the following way:
a) Lakota
b) Yankton-Yanktonai Dakota (a.k.a. Western Dakota or Dakȟóta)
c) Santee-Sisseton Dakota (a.k.a. Eastern Dakota or Dakhóta)
d) Assiniboin (Nakhóta)
e) Stoney (Nakhóda)
The studies also agree that the last two are not mutually intelligible with the first three and thus should be considered separate language. Moreover, the Assiniboins and Stoney do not consider themselves to be part of the "Sioux" historically and culturally.
The two studies are:
Parks, D.R. & DeMallie, R.J. (1992). Sioux, Assiniboine, and Stoney Dialects: A Classification . Anthropological Linguistics vol. 34, nos. 1-4
Ullrich, Jan. (2008). New Lakota Dictionary. & Incorporating the Dakota Dialects of Santee-Sisseton and Yankton-Yanktonai (Lakota Language Consortium). ISBN 0-9761082-9-1.
Both of the studies provide extensive comparative material (vocabulary etc.) and the New Lakota Dictionary describes at length and in much detail the history of the dialectal classification and the misnomer of using "Nakota" for Yanktons and Yanktonais.
Although many anthropologists and historians hasn't taken notice of the new findings in respect to Sioux dialect, the above classification has been generally accepted among Siouanists and it is the division accepted among native educators as well. Gibbon, who you quote above, is not a Siouanist, not even a linguist. He does not provide citation for his statements, he just says "some linguists" classify it this way, as opposed to "many others" who say something else. He provides no comparative data. The lack of citation or data in Gibbons does not make his publication a verifiable material and therefore does not meet Wikipedia's requirements. Thiyopa (talk) 06:52, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I thank Thiyopa for his/her prompt reply and would like to apologize in advance if my tone may sound somewhat rude, so as it will happen nearly every time I try to express my opinions in English: in fact, I am writing in a friendly and constructive attitude.

I do not completely agree with her/him either from the methodological or from the factual point of view.

On the methodological plane

a. Gibbon (of whose worth as a scholar I don’t have the slightest idea!) is not a Wikipedia user who’s working on Wikipedia, and if one criticizes the contents of his book without using somebody else’s published objections, but giving one’s own opinions (however well-grounded), one is just making an original research , which contrasts Wikipedia’s policy and accepted standards. In the articles Lingua Sioux and Dakota (langue) of the Italian and French Wikipedia, we have started from the traditional (however passé it may be) division in Dakota, Nakota and Lakota, secondly we have reported the results of Parks, Rood and DeMallie’s researches, thirdly we have mentioned Gibbon’s opinions and finally we have reported SIL International ‘s position, which is very close to Thiyopa’s (and to Parks/DeMallie’s).

b. If Wikipedia users have agreed to employ SIL International’s codes, as it is shown in the Wikipedia language template, and if’s Family Tree for the Siouan languages has got no entry for “Sioux”, I don’t think either helpful or conforming to Wikipedia standards to decide to create such an entry just because one believes it correct.

On the factual plane

It is not exact that the Assiniboins and Stoneys do not consider themselves to be part of the Sioux, historically and culturally. On the contrary, there exists nowadays among them a strong propensity to minimize the past ruptures and to take again their stand, if not in the Sioux nation (which doesn’t exist any longer, if ever), at least in the Sioux tradition (cf. [1]). The online site of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre mentions also some elder Stoneys that say they can understand Lakota better than Assiniboin and profess they are actually Rocky Mountains’Sioux, rather than the Hohes’ simple descendants. Finally, the Stoneys of the Alexis Reserve in Alberta officially and explicitly call themselves Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation (cf. From the opposite point of view, when, in 2008, in Rapid City (SD) was held the “Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summit”, under the slogan “Uniting the Seven Council Fires to Save the Language”, the tribal structures of Assiniboin and Stoney reserves and reservations both in the U.S.A. and in Canada, joined the initiative en masse and I’m told that the Oglalas not only did not chase them out, but that they were fully admitted to take part in the meeting works (cf. Another summit is scheduled for November 12 and 14, 2009, while Friday 13 will be devoted to the "2009 Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summit Powwow" (by the way, they still use the formula "Lakota, Dakota, Nakota", however passé it may seem!).

All the best.--Jeanambr (talk) 16:03, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. No worries about your English, I think it is really very good. Mine is far from perfect so the possibility of not expressing myself accurately is real. Below are my comments:
I think that in the On the methodological plane paragraph you misunderstood me. I was trying to say that two independent studies with detailed research are more relevant than a mere opinion of a historian who doesn't support his statement with research or even citations. Nothing more, nothing less.
Secondly, I do tend to agree with the general notion of your b) paragraph which says that there actually is no "Sioux language". "Sioux" is really a continuum of dialects with lesser or higher mutual intelligibility. The speakers of these dialects, however, consider each of the dialects to be a language of its own (Lakota, Yankton-Yanktonai Dakota, Santee-Sisseton Dakota, Assiniboine Nakota, Stoney Nakoda). Thus, "Sioux" is merely a subgroup of languages within the Siouan language family. So, I do not feel strongly against deleting the article, although on the other hand I think it provides useful information in terms of the dialect classification and comparative data. Such information might be harder to present under the articles on the individual languages. I suggest we re-name the article to “Sioux language group” or something in those terms.
The situation you describe in your paragraph called On the factual plane is more complex than that, I believe. I agree that in the recent years there have been some indication of a pan-Siouan movement among the five language groups and that at least some people on both sides want to see the Stoney and Assiniboine to be a part of the so called “Sioux nation” (BTW, I was present at the Tusweca conference as well as at some previous reunions, so I know some of these thing first hand; and BTW I think that the statement that “the tribal structures of Assiniboin and Stoney … joined the initiative en masse” is a huge overstatement and misunderstanding of what the conference did and did not do). As much as these inclinations get lots of publicity on the internet and perhaps elsewhere, the old-timers and fluent speakers among Assiniboine and Stoney always objected to being associated with the American "Sioux." Moreover, there is no evidence that the Stoney and Assiniboin were part of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, although that confederation itself is more in the sphere of mythology than a historical fact. The bottom line is, that no matter what each of us thinks, Stoney and Assiniboin are 'linguistically', politically, historically and culturally separate from the Lakotas and Dakotas and such pan-Siouan efforts will always remain only on the level of conferences and reunions. It reminds me of the pan-Slavic efforts in the early 20th century when some of the intellectuals from some of the then long marginalized Slavic languages wanted to create one large Slavic nation, regardless the fact that the Slavic languages are not mutually intelligible (apart from Czech and Slovak) and the individual Slavic nations have hundreds of years of independent history.
Secondly, I never stated anything in the sense that the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota division was passé. The only thing outdated about it is how people use it. The Tusweca conference used it correctly because there were Stoney and Assiniboin participants there. But most people use it incorrectly because 1) they apply Nakota to Yankton-Yanktonai who in reality call themselves Dakota, and 2) because they think the language division is threefold, while in reality it is fivefold: 1) Lakota, 2) Western Dakota, 3) Eastern Dakota, 4) Assiniboin, 5) Stoney, with Etnologue considering the two Dakota languages as one.
Lastly, I do not see much value in basing the article on the history of the dialect division classification. I am sure that articles on modern languages or any other language do not contain such histories that would document old and obsolete classifications. And based on the published (!!) and verifiable (!!) data (as well as on my personal experience with speakers of those languages) it is beyond the slightest doubt that applying “Nakota” to Yankton-Yanktonai is inaccurate and so is grouping this tribe with the Assiniboine. In my opinion, such record of the classification history just continues to muddy the waters of the dialect continuum division classification which is complex enough in itself. Why prolong the fallacy that started with poorly informed missionaries in the early 19th century? Thiyopa (talk) 07:19, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Dear Thiyopa,thank you very much, first of all, for making me feel that I can enter a discussion in English without seeming to be intentionally abusing my opponents.
Here are my further opinions on the matter under discussion and, since I still hold out for my suggestion that the article should be modified, I hope that someone else will soon decide to take part in it, so that it may not become a sort of private dialogue between you and me. But let’s come to the point (or to the points).
I’m personally inclined to believe that you may be right about Gibbon; but if so, I can’t help wondering: can it be possible that nobody has anyhow reviewed his work and unmasked the knavish sloven he ought to be if he writes, in a scientific work, such inexactitudes or, worse still, falsehoods, ten years after the publication of Parks/DeMallie’s new achievements? If anyone did, you should quote her/him (maybe just in a note), otherwise you cannot but cite Gibbon himself if you want to observe Wikipedia’s guidelines about original researches.
Sioux language
I do not oppose the editing of an article titled Sioux Language, I oppose the infringement of SIL International’s standards and codes after Wikipedia has somehow freely chosen to use them in the templates which create synoptic tables in the language articles. So, if Ethnologue has defined a Family Tree of the Siouan languages (cf., it cannot be changed, in the synoptic table, according to the single editor’s opinions, as it happens in the concerned article. Siouan ought to remain Siouan (and not to become Siouan-Catawban), Siouan proper ought not to become Siouan, Central ought not to disappear, Dakota should stay the same and not be turned into Dakotan, and finally a further branch “Sioux” should not be created. If one disagree with SIL International’s classification could either propose Wikipedia that ISO 639-3 codes be refused in its articles, or quote, inside the contents of the single articles themselves, some authors that have equally disagreed with that classification. Tertium non datur (at least in my opinion)!
Sioux and Assiniboins
1. You say you had the chance of taking part in the Tusweka “2008 Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summit” and so you can evidently have a direct idea of what happened in the conference. I couldn't, myself, but have recourse to Internet sources ( and there one can find an official (failing documented refutations!) list of the tribal structures that “had attended the summit”. It is about 36 tribal structures (two thirds being Lakota/Dakota, and one third Assiniboin/Stoney). I have then tried to estimate how representative they are respectively of the whole Lakota/Dakota and Assiniboin/Stoneys worlds, either in the U.S.A. or in Canada, and, if I was able to find some small Lakota/Dakota First Nations that had not joined the initiative (Standing Buffalo and Wood Mountain First Nations in Saskatchewan, and Dakota Plains and Dakota Tipi First Nations in Manitoba), I couldn’t find any Assiniboin/Stoney tribal structures but one (Mosquito in Saskatchewan) that had equally not. If so, saying that the Assiniboin and Stoney tribal structures had joined the meeting "en masse" frankly seems to me more an uder- than an over-statement.
2. You say, as well, that Stoneys and Assiniboins are 'linguistically', politically, historically and culturally separate from the Lakotas and Dakotas and that pan-Siouan efforts will always remain only on the level of conferences and reunions. Considering that the second part of your statement is evidently a political opinion of yours (which I even might share myself), the first part does not seem corroborated by fact. I don’t know what “politically” might mean, but historically I think unquestionable that some time in the past a group of Dakota speaking people separated from the rest of the nation and developed thenceforward separately, retaining however their ancestral language and the memory of where they did come from; which can by no means prevent, nay may help, a future reuniting. Culturally Assiniboins and at least Lakotas shared, broadly speaking, the same culture both in the past (either in the north forests or in the great plains) and nowadays. There remains the language.
3. From the linguistic point of view, you say that Nakota and Lakota/Dakota languages are irremediably different and mention the pan-Slavism example. Others believe differently: primarily, the Lakotas and Dakotas’ representative and cultural institutions which support an initiative alike the Tusweka conference; secondly the Assiniboins and Stoneys' ones which will unanimously refer, in a public and official way, to the Sioux tradition [besides the examples I already made of Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation and of the Saskatchewan tribes (, also Alberta’s Nakoda First Nations would write on their site online ( “As descendants of the great Sioux nations, the Stoney tribal members of today prefer to conduct their conversation and tribal business in the Siouan mother tongue”]; thirdly international institutions like SIL which insists on classifying a Dakota language and four general dialects (among which the Assiniboin and Stoney ones). Thus, more than of pan-Slavism, I get inclined to think of the modern situation of German or of Italian itself: I speak Italian as my mother tongue, and surely I can’t understand a Sicilian when strictly speaking his dialect, but I’d never dare to say that it is not Italian. I’m been told that a Berliner cannot understand a South-Tyrolese or a Swiss when speaking their own dialects, but I should be abused if I said to the South-Tyrolese that the dialect he speaks is not German.
With millions of books around the world which narrate the story of the Dakota, Lakota, Nakota three-partition of the Sioux language [three-partition which continues to be spread by new books and even by Ethnologue ( which still calls Nakota the Yankton and Yankton-Yanktonais dialects], it is inconceivable that a non-linguist (as I am) who tried to find some information about it on Wikipedia, should come across an article alike Sioux language which does not contain even the slightest reference to the matter and to the historical controversy which has thence come forward.
All the best.--Jeanambr (talk) 13:59, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

P.S.: I wonder why you do not register yourself on Wikipedia: it is more comfortable both for you and for the other users and it’s easy enough (I was able, too!): you can just click your red-typed name in this page, then click Start the User:Thiyopa page, then click Log in or create an account and follow instructions writing something you like, about who you are. Ciao again.

Dear Jeamber, I will try to be brief because I think we are not following the guidelines for the talk page (I think it is not supposed to be a dialog of two Wiki members if I recall correctly). I will comment on things in which I think you miss the point:
1) Gibbon
I am not sure why you are so stuck on this publication. Firstly, there are hundreds of books on the Sioux and Gibbon’s is certainly not one of the more generally recognized one. I am not sure why Gibbon’s books should be considered a more important publication than hundrends of other books, and I am certain that it has less to offer for a language article since it is not a linguistic study but a very general culture/history book. Why give preference to this general and sketchy book to studies who deal with the very subject – Sioux dialect classification? I think you are completely missing the point here. And on the other hand I miss your point in what you call “original research” in respect to Gibbon versus the publications by Parks&DeMallie and Ullrich. The latter classification has been generally recognized by Siouan linguists.
2) Ethnologue
Well, the classification provided by Ethnologue is simply inaccurate. Ethnologues is trying to cover all the languages of the world which is a thankworthy and meticulous work. But with a project of this magnitude it is easy to overlook some details. Who do you think has more knowledge of the Sioux dialects – people at Ethnologue who try to cover all languages of the world or people who have been working with the Sioux dialects throughout their carrier (Parks&DeMallie have been working with the Sioux for decades, and Jan Ullrich has lived with the Sioux and worked with the language for over 25 years). Don’t you think that these linguists would know what the people call themselves?
Imagine that Ethnologue would classify Sicilian as a dialect of French but you would know that it is incorrect and you would know of publications that clarify this fallacy – what would you do? Follow Ethnologue just because it has the recognition? BTW, the Wikipedia article on Ethnologues says the following: “Although Ethnologue is updated periodically, much of the information is old: The editors do not re-examine each entry for each new edition and generally rely on users to submit change requests.“
3) Dialect versus language (Lakota/Dakota versus Assiniboin/Stoney)
There is no clear-cut distinction between what is a dialect and what is a separate language. Some dialects that are perfectly mutually intelligible are considered separate languages (like Czech and Slovak) while there are many cases of mutually unintelligible languages that are considered dialects (like many of the languages in Chine, and perhaps the examples you gave about Italy and Germany). The distinction is usually based on non-linguistic criteria, especially on the geopolitical space. Czechs and Slovaks each live in a different country and have different history, Sicilians and Italians share the country and lots of the history hence they all consider themselves Italian and their respective dialects are considered part of the Italian language. The Stoney and Assiniboin do not share the geopolitical space with the Lakotas and Dakotas, they have been separated from them for more than 400 years. So your argument based on the comparison with the Italian and German dialects falls short. It is a completely different situation. The Pan-Siouan efforts would be comparable only to something like a Pan-Romance effort (i.e. trying to unite all the languages that originated from Latin – not only they are not mutually intelligible, but they don’t share geopolitical space or most of their history).
4) Conclusions
You convinced me about one thing – the controversy of the classification needs to be documented in the article. Thiyopa (talk) 10:21, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

Confronted with the passion (and the knowledge of the case) shown by Thiyopa (whom I am going to answer personally in his talk page ), I think that a large part of my methodological scruples can be put aside and, considering that Ullrich’s book is the latest to be published and is a field-work, I agree that his achievements can be correctly assumed as the basis of the article.

As for me, therefore:

- I am not going to modify, myself, any part of the article;

- I will conform consequently the corresponding article in the Italian Wikipedia (and in the French as well), restricting to a simple note the quotation from Gibbon;

- I have already started correcting the traditional legend of the three-partition of the Sioux people (namely, the misnomer of using "Nakota" for Yanktons and Yanktonais) wherever I can find it, also where I had introduced it myself.

I held to my conviction that conforming, as far as possible, the synoptic tables (and the article names) to Ethnologue's classifications (or to some other standards) would avoid the very terminological Babel which is being created between the different Wikipedia editions and maybe also within some ones of them, according to each user's personal tastes. --Jeanambr (talk) 15:09, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Hi. With all due respect, this discussion has now gone on much longer than the length of the article it's discussing. Why not add to the article itself, and then discuss how to improve the additions? The article as it stands is in dire need of improvement. The topics that both of you have discussed (the academic debates on classification, for one thing) are worthy of inclusion in the article. Please, be bold. You both have a sincere interest in the topic, and are clearly willing to contribute. Jeanambr, your English is excellent. Fire away. Others can twiddle your prepositions if necessary. babbage (talk) 05:06, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
I think I found a compromise solution of the problems debated above. Since there existed an article (or an article’s title) Nakota which was nothing else but a wrong redirection to Sioux, I created the article itself translating the contents of the corresponding Italian one (it:Nakota), and inserted just a very brief reference to it and to the matter of the Yankton-Yanktonai misnomer in the article Sioux language. I firmly believe Thiyopa won’t disagree. --Jeanambr (talk) 12:46, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
BTW As the new article shows disagreeable traces of its Italian origins, apart from the want of a general grammar, style, and spelling copy-editing, and save for anybody’s chance to modify it as one likes, I think it would be necessary that some willing one would:
1. substitute at least an English language source for the Italian work I have cited in the note no. 3 as an example of support for the traditional wrong partition of the Sioux nation;
2. add at least an English language source to the note no. 4 (besides Ella Deloria), as an example of previous objections to the same traditional partition.
Thank-you very much.--Jeanambr (talk) 12:46, 8 October 2009 (UTC)


You say: The table also provides comparison with the two closely related Nakota languages (Assiniboin and Stoney). They are not considered part of the Siouan nation (neither by the Sioux nor by themselves.). But here's a source that begs to differ, the Stoney themselves: The Stoney Nakoda Nation is composed of three bands: Chiniki, Wesley, and Bearspaw... The Chiniki people are the descendants of the Great Sioux Nations and still conduct tribal business and most conversations in their traditional Siouan mother tongue.[2] --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 21:11, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

More on Siouan languages: [3] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rlpmjp (talkcontribs) 09:41, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

The fact that linguists have determined the language to be Siouan has nothing to do with whether the speakers identify as Sioux. — kwami (talk) 18:06, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
The overview about the Lakota language edited online by the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, tells of "Stoney Elders who refer to themselves as Rocky Mountain Sioux and claim to understand Laíoþa better than the Naíoþa spoken by the Hohe" (Assiniboine). Even more, the Alberta Nakoda First Nations website reads literally: “As descendants of the great Sioux nations, the Stoney tribal members of today prefer to conduct their conversation and tribal business in the Siouan mother tongue.
Given such precise statements (and further ones could be reported), the article's insisting that the Stoney "are not considered part of the Siouan nation (neither by the Sioux nor by themselves.)", appears not only questionable or 'dubious' (as previously posted correctly by Kevlar), but even untruthful.
I have furtherly modified the article trying to remove unsourced opinions and to stick to the facts concerned.--Jeanambr (talk) 23:38, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, the problem was with the unsupported pronouncements on identity, not in the linguistic classification.--Kevlar (talkcontribs) 01:21, 25 May 2014 (UTC)