Saturday, June 24, 2006


I used to live in the Bay Area for a while, so naturally I tried to find out about its pre-colonial language group, Ohlone. This turned out to have been a set of fairly closely related dialects/languages stretching from San Francisco down beyond Monterey, plus the coast of the East Bay. Their only reasonably close relative is Miwok, another small language family spoken to its north and west, although wider relations with languages further north along the Pacific coast are likely. Among the more noteworthy features of Ohlone are regular metathesis processes - for example, the plural suffix can be either -mak or -kma, depending on whether it's preceded by a consonant or a vowel.

Dave Kaufman has just posted some interesting Ruminations on Rumsien, one of the southern dialects; or, if you speak Spanish, you can read a grammar of Mutsun, a southeastern dialect. Wikipedia has a map.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hi Lameen,

Thanks for the plug! Actually the plural form in Rumsien appears to be -kay or -akay as opposed to the -mak/-kma of Mutsun and Muwekma (Chochenyo). Metathesis is definitely a major part of Rumsien as well. I've got my work cut out for me in trying to sort through all of Harrington's notes on this language!