Keresan languages

For the US Navy cargo ship, see USS Keresan (ID-1806).
Region New Mexico
Ethnicity Keres
Native speakers
13,000 (2006–2010)[1]
One of the world's primary language families
  • East Keres
  • West Keres
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
kee  Eastern
kjq  Western
Glottolog kere1287[2]

Pre-contact distribution of Keresan languages

Keresan /kəˈrsən/, also Keres /ˈkɛərs/, is a dialect cluster spoken by the Keres Pueblo people in New Mexico. The varieties of each of the seven Keres pueblos are mutually intelligible with its closest neighbors. There are significant differences between the Western and Eastern groups, which are commonly counted as separate languages.

Family division

Southwestern peoples

Genetic relationships

Keres is a language isolate. Edward Sapir grouped it together with a Hokan–Siouan stock. Morris Swadesh suggested a connection with Wichita. Joseph Greenberg grouped Keres with Siouan, Yuchi, Caddoan, and Iroquoian in a superstock called Keresiouan. None of the proposals has gained the consensus of linguists.

Historical phonology


The chart below contains the reconstructed consonants of the proto-Keresan (or pre-Keresan) as reconstructed by Miller & Davis (1963) based on a comparison of Acoma, Santa Ana, and Santo Domingo.

Labial Dental Palatal Retroflex Dental/Palatal Velar
Plosive unaspirated p t ts k
aspirated tʃʰ tʂʰ tsʰ
glottalized tʃʼ (tʂʼ) tsʼ
Fricative plain s ʃ ʂ
glottalized (sʼ) ʃʼ ʂʼ
Sonorant plain w r j
plain, nasal m n
glottalized, nasal

The consonant *tʂʼ only surfaces as an alternate form of underlying * or *tʂʰ.

Morphophonemic alternations:

Basic form Aspirated Glottalized Fronted
t t’
t’ tʃ’
k k’ ts
k’ ts’
tʂʼ t
tʂʰ tʂʰ tʂʼ tʃʰ


Acoma Keres has a relatively complex tone system.

Due to tone deafness, Franz Boas encountered difficulties studying tonal languages such as Laguna; however, after he left, his student Elsie Clews Parsons stayed behind and documented Laguna language and stories.[3]


The structure is C(C)V(V).

History and usage

Keres was one of the seven languages used in the Coca-Cola commercial called "It's Beautiful" broadcast during the 2014 Super Bowl.[4]

See also


  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Keresan". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Marmon Silko, Leslie (1981). Storyteller, p.254. Arcade. ISBN 1-55970-005-X.
  4. "Native Language Spotlighted During Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad". Indian Country Today Media Network. 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-26.


External links

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