|Native to||United States|
|Region||Montana and Oklahoma|
The Cheyenne language Tsėhésenėstsestȯtse or, in easier spelling, Tsisinstsistots, is the Native American language spoken by the Cheyenne people, predominantly in present-day Montana and Oklahoma in the United States. It is part of the Algonquian language family. Like all Algonquian languages, it has complex agglutinative morphology.
Cheyenne is one of the Algonquian languages, which is a sub-category of the Algic languages. Specifically, it is a Plains Algonquian language. However, Plains Algonquian, which also includes Arapaho and Blackfoot, is an areal rather than genetic subgrouping.
Cheyenne is spoken on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana and in Oklahoma. At the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, where as of March 2013, there were approximately 10,050 enrolled tribal members, of which about 4,939 resided on the reservation ; slightly more than a quarter of the population five years or older spoke a language other than English.
The Cheyenne language is considered a "definitely endangered" in Montana, and "critically endangered" in Oklahoma by the UNESCO. Classes in the Cheyenne language are available at Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Montana, at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and at Watonga High School, in Watonga, Oklahoma,
Cheyenne phonology is quite simple. While there are only three basic vowels, they can be pronounced in three ways: high pitch (e.g. á), low pitch (e.g. a), and voiceless (e.g. ė). The high and low pitches are phonemic, while vowel devoicing is governed by environmental rules, making voiceless vowels allophones of the voiced vowels. The phoneme /h/ is realized as [s] in the environment between /e/ and /t/ (h > s / e _ t). /h/ is realized as [ʃ] between [e] and [k] (h > ʃ / e _ k) i.e. /nahtóna/ nȧhtona 'alien', /nehtóna/ nėstona 'your daughter', /hehke/ heške 'his mother'. The digraph ‘ts’ represents assibilated /t/; a phonological rule of Cheyenne is that underlying /t/ becomes affricated before an /e/ (t > ts/_e). Therefore, ‘ts’ is not a separate phoneme, but an allophone of /t/. The sound [x] is not a phoneme, but derives from other phonemes, including /ʃ/ (when /ʃ/ precedes or follows a non-front vowel, /a/ or /o/), and the past tense morpheme /h/ which is pronounced [x] when it precedes a morpheme which starts with /h/.
The Cheyenne orthography of 14 letters is neither a pure phonemic system nor a phonetic transcription; it is, in the words of linguist Wayne Leman, a "pronunciation orthography". In other words, it is a practical spelling system designed to facilitate proper pronunciation. Some allophonic variants, such as voiceless vowels, are shown. ⟨e⟩ represents not the phoneme /e/, but is usually pronounced as a phonetic [ɪ] and sometimes varies to [ɛ]. ⟨š⟩ represents /ʃ/.
Cheyenne has 14 orthographic letters composed of 13 phonemes, several of which can be devoiced. ([x] is written as x orthographically but is not a phoneme.) Devoicing naturally occurs in the last vowel of a word or phrase. It can also occur in vowels at the penultimate and prepenultimate positions within a word. Non-high [a] and [o] is also usually devoiced preceding h plus a stop. Phonemic /h/ is absorbed by a preceding voiceless vowel. Examples are given below
- /hohkoʃ/ hohkȯxe ‘ax';
- /tétahpetáht/ tsétȧhpétȧhtse ‘the one who is big’;
- /mótehk/ motšėške ‘knife’
Devoicing occurs when certain vowels directly precede the consonants [t], [s], [ʃ], [k], or [x] that is itself followed by an [e]. This rule is linked to the rule of e-Epenthesis, which simply states that [e] appears in the environment of a consonant and a word boundary.
- /tahpeno/ tȧpeno ‘flute’;
- /kosáné/ kȯsâne 'sheep (pl.)’;
- /mahnohtehtovot/ mȧhnȯhtsėstovȯtse ‘if you ask him’
Special [a] and [o] Devoicing
- /émóheeohtéo/ émôheeȯhtseo’o ‘they are gathering’;
- /náohkeho’sóe/ náȯhkėho’soo’e ‘I regularly dance’;
- /nápóahtenáhnó/ nápôȧhtsenáhno ‘I punched him in the mouth’
émane [ímaṅi] ‘He is drinking.’
- -pėhévoestomo’he ‘kind’ + -htse ‘imperative suffix’ > -pėhévoestomo’ėstse
- tsé- ‘conjunct prefix’ + -éna’he ‘old’ + -tse ‘3rd pers. Suffix' > tsééna’ėstse ‘the one who is old’
- né + ‘you’ + -one’xȧho’he ‘burn’ + tse ‘suffix for some ‘you-me’ transitive animate forms’ > néone’xȧho’ėstse ‘ you burn me’
There are several rules that govern pitch use in Cheyenne. Pitch can be ˊ = high, unmarked = low, ˉ = mid, and ˆ = raised high.
- /ʃéʔʃé/ šêʔše ‘duck’;
- /sémón/ sêmo ‘boat’
- Low-to-High Raising
- /méʃené/ méšéne ‘ticks’;
- /návóomó/ návóómo ‘I see him’;
- /póesón/ póéso ‘cat’
- Low-to-Mid Raising
- /kosán/ kōsa ‘sheep (sg.)’;
- /heʔé/ hēʔe ‘woman’;
- /éhomosé/ éhomōse ‘he is cooking’
- High Push-Over
- /néháóénáma/ néhâoenama ‘we (incl) prayed’;
- /néméhótóne/ némêhotone ‘we (incl) love him’;
- /náméhósanémé/ námêhosanême ‘we (excl) love’
- Word-Medial High-Raising
According to Leman, "some verbal prefixes and preverbs go through the process of Word-Medial High-Raising. A high is raised if it follows a high (which is not a trigger for the High Push-Over rule) and precedes a phonetic low. One or more voiceless syllables may come between the two highs. (A devoiced vowel in this process must be underlyingly low, not an underlyingly high vowel which has been devoiced by the High-Pitch Devoicing rule.)”
- /émésehe/ émêsehe ‘he is eating’;
- /téhnémenétó/ tséhnêmenéto ‘when I sang’;
- /násáamétohénoto/ násâamétȯhênoto ‘I didn’t give him to him’
Cheyenne represents the participants of an expression not as separate pronoun words but as affixes on the verb. Its pronominal system uses typical Algonquian distinctions: three grammatical persons (1st, 2nd, 3rd) plus obviated 3rd (3', also known as 4th person), two numbers (singular, plural), animacy (animate and inanimate) and inclusivity and exclusivity on the first person plural. The 3' (obviative) person is an elaboration of the third; it is an "out of focus" third person. When there are two or more third persons in an expression, one of them will become obviated. If the obviated entity is an animate noun, it will be marked with an obviative suffix, typically -o or -óho. Verbs register the presence of obviated participants whether or not they are present as nouns.
There are three basic pronominal prefixes in Cheyenne:
- ná- First person
- né- Second person
- é- Third person
These three basic prefixes can be combined with various suffixes to express all of Cheyenne's pronominal distinctions. For example, the prefix ná- can be combined on a verb with the suffix -me to express the first person plural exclusive ("we, not including you"), as with nátȧhpetáme, "we.EXCL are big."
Like all the Algonquian languages, Cheyenne developed from a reconstructed ancestor referred to as Proto-Algonquian (often abbreviated "PA"). The sound changes on the road from PA to modern Cheyenne are complex, as exhibited by the development of the PA word *erenyiwa "man" into Cheyenne hetane:
- First, the PA suffix -wa drops (*erenyi)
- The geminate vowel sequence -yi- simplifies to /i/ (semivowels were phonemically vowels in PA; when PA */i/ or */o/ appeared before another vowel, it became non-syllabic) (*ereni)
- PA */r/ changes to /t/ (*eteni)
- /h/ is added before word-initial vowels (*heteni)
- Due to a vowel chain-shift, the vowels in the word wind up as /e/, /a/ and /e/ (PA */e/ sometimes corresponds to Cheyenne /e/ and sometimes to Cheyenne /a/; PA */i/ almost always corresponds to Cheyenne /e/, however) (hetane).
Some Cheyenne words (with the Proto-Algonquian reconstructions where known):
- ame "grease" (from PA *pemyi)
- he'e "his liver" (from PA *weθkweni)
- hē'e "woman" (from PA **eθkwe·wa)
- hetane "man" (from PA *erenyiwa)
- ma'heo'o "sacred spirit, God"
- matana "milk" (from PA *meθenyi)
- Cheyenne at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Cheyenne". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Northern Cheyenne Tribe website
- "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- "Course Descriptions: Cheyenne Studies". Chief Dull Knife College. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- "Southwestern Oklahoma State University - Course Availability". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- Rebecka Lyman (2012-10-15). "Keeping Cheyenne Language Alive" (PDF). Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- There are also two other variants of the phonemic pitches: the mid (e.g. ā) and raised-high pitches (e.g. ô). These are often not represented in writing, although there are standard diacritics to indicate all of them. Linguist Wayne Leman included one more variant in his International Journal of American Linguistics (1981) article on Cheyenne pitch rules, a lowered-high pitch (e.g. à), but has since recognized that this posited pitch is the same as a low pitch.
- Leman, 1979, Cheyenne Grammar Notes p. 215
- Leman, 1979, Cheyenne Grammar Notes p. 218
- Leman, 1979, Cheyenne Grammar Notes p. 217
- Leman, 1979, Cheyenne Grammar Notes p. 219
- Leman, 1979, Cheyenne Grammar Notes p. 220
- Semiotics, Self, and Society, edited by Benjamin Lee, Greg Urban
- "Petter, Rodolphe Charles (1865-1947)" Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, accessed September 20, 2009
- "Petter, 1915, English-Cheyenne Dictionary.
- Fisher Louise, Leroy Pine Sr., Marie Sanchez, and Wayne Leman, 2004. Cheyenne Dictionary. Lame Deer, Montana: Chief Dull Knife College.
- Leman, Wayne, 1980. A Reference Grammar of the Cheyenne Language. University of Colorado Press. (out-of-print; revised and republished as Leman, 2012)
- Leman, Wayne, 2012. A Reference Grammar of the Cheyenne Language. Lulu Press. (revision of Leman, 1980)
- Mithun, Marianne, 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Petter, Rodolphe, 1915. English-Cheyenne Dictionary. Kettle Falls, Washington. Annotated version also available online.
|Cheyenne edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Cheyenne online dictionary, maintained at Chief Dull Knife College
- Modern Southern Cheyenne alphabet and pronunciation key
- FREELANG Cheyenne-English and English-Cheyenne online dictionary
- Cheyenne language flashcards at Quizlet, based on Risingsun, Ted; Leman, Wayne (1999). Let's Talk Cheyenne (2 Audio CDs with Booklet). ISBN 9781579700928.
- Cheyenne Language Website
- Native Languages of the Americas: Cheyenne
- Portions of the Anglican/Episcopal Prayer Book Cheyenne
- Martin Luther's Small Catechism in Cheyenne
- Lomax Collection Recording of Cheyenne (1956), Conversation
- OLAC resources in and about the Cheyenne language