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Notes on the Shoshonean Dialects of Southern California, by A. L. Kroeber, [1909], at


These notes were taken from an old man named Ashpam, and his wife, in Mohave Valley across the Colorado river from Needles, California. Though living among the Mohave, Ashpam is half Chemehuevi by birth. His wife is entirely of Chemehuevi blood, and was born in Chemehuevi Valley. Neither informant

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knowing English, it was necessary to communicate through a Mohave interpreter. This circumstance, combined with the small aptitude for linguistic distinctions evinced by both informants, made it impossible to secure connected texts. It was however possible to obtain material elucidating several phases of the structure of the language, which had presented themselves as problems in a study recently made of the closely similar Ute dialects, 14 especially the relation between the possessive pronouns and the characteristic Shoshonean noun-suffixes.

Pronominal Elements and Noun Endings.

Chemehuevi differs from all the other dialects here considered in suffixing instead of prefixing the pronominal elements. This is a characteristic of the Ute-Chemehuevi group and of the Kern River dialects, whereas all other Shoshonean languages pre-pose and probably prefix these elements. As in Ute, the possessive suffixes denoting the first and second person are -n and -m. The vowel connected with these varies. It is impossible to consider the vowels preceding the final n or m as parts of the suffix until it shall be clear in each case that they are not the final stem vowel, which is usually inaudible through being whispered, but reappears when a following suffix makes of it a syllable. Words like kan, house, pu’, eye, tau, tooth, are almost certainly originally kani, pui, and tawa. This is shown not only by their forms in other dialects, but by the fact that they are occasionally heard as kani or pu’i in Chemehuevi. The same holds true of Ute. As long as the vowel of the apparent suffix is therefore at least in some cases really radical, it is difficult to assign it positively to the suffix in any word. The a of the pronominal ending in the last words of the following list is however apparently non-radical and part of the suffix.

v-im, your nose.

pu-im, your eye, nüni pu-um, my eyes.

tawa-n, my teeth, ümi tau, your teeth.

ag‘-on, my tongue, ümi ag‘, your tongue.

tümp, mouth, tömp-an, my mouth.

totsi-n, my head.

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totsive-an, my hair.

qura-n, my neck.

mutsaw-un, my beard.

macitco-on, my nail.

höa-n, nüni höa, my bone, buñg-utsi höau, dog's bone.

nümu-n, my liver.

bag‘ap-ün, my sandals.

kan-üm, your house.

töviw-am, your land.

piyüw-an, my heart.

paw-am, your blood, nüni pau, my blood, paü-pi, blood.

The pronominal suffixes are not the only forms used in Chemehuevi to indicate possession. The independent or subjective form of the pronoun placed before a substantive has the same significance. It is therefore possible to say kan-üm, your house, or ümi kan. The two methods appear with about equal frequency in the material obtained. The same is true in Ute. It is the less surprising that these unabridged preposed forms should occur, when it is recollected that the pronominal suffixes of Ute-Chemehuevi are exceptional and therefore in all probability a later substitute for more original prefixes.

As in other Shoshonean dialects, endings of certain nouns are lost when the possessive pronoun is preposed or suffixed. There are however many nouns that are never provided with such a detachable ending. This fact must be understood before the nature and use of these endings in Ute-Chemehuevi can be discussed. The word kan or kani, house, is invariable as regards use with or without the possessive pronoun. Nüni kan, my house, kan-üm, your house, show the same form of the noun as the word house, kan, itself. -n is therefore not the detachable ending of this word. As there are many similar stems in Chemehuevi, it follows that the noun endings cannot be determined except from instances which show each word in composition, or in use with the possessive pronoun, as well as in its full independent form. Judging from the cases obtained, the most frequent Ute-Chemehuevi ending is -p or -v. The majority of nouns with any other termination seem to be stems without a suffix. In the abundance of its nouns used without endings Ute-Chemehuevi differs from Luiseño-Cahuilla, where, as has been shown, nearly every substantive which is not onomatopoetic, duplicated, or denotive of a

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part of the body, must, when absolute, carry a suffix. Chemehuevi mar, metate, is the equivalent of Luiseño mal-al, and this of Nahuatl, metl-atl, which by corruption is the origin of the word metate itself.

The following are nouns found without a suffix that is lost before a possessive pronoun: ate, bow; wi, knife (Ute witc); kani, house; mar, metate; ba, water; bag‘ap, sandals.

The following nouns have been found to lose their ending when used with the possessive pronoun: paü-pi, blood; koa-p, tobacco; ac-ump, ac-ümp, salt; buñg-uts, dog (Ute, sari-dj; with possessive, sari-vuñk). Ute sö-up, sö-an, lungs, pi-upi, pi-nañ, heart (Chemehuevi piyüw-an = piü-an, my heart), also show detachable endings. 15

The word tövi-p, land or earth, is interesting because the loss of its ending is accompanied by the appearance of a final surd w. Your land is töviw-am; my land, nüni töviw. Bone, höa or höau (my bone höa-n), may show a similar ending. Such a final w sound crops out also in certain words in Luiseño-Cahuilla and in Nahuatl. Luiseño pala, water, no-pauw, my water; Nahuatl tetl, stone, no-teuh, nay stone.

No words denoting parts of the body could be obtained provided with an ending except paü-pi, blood. Almost always such words were given accompanied by the possessive pronoun, more frequently the suffix form. When the pronoun is preposed, or the third person is signified, the stem appears in its native form. It does not then show any such overwhelming tendency to end in a vowel as do the stems of Cahuilla terms denoting parts of the body. It is however difficult to speak of this matter on account of the frequent whispered final vowels of Chemehuevi.

Plural, Cases, Diminutive.

A few occurrences of the plural suffix -m and of case postpositions resembling those of Ute were found: puum, eyes;

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avatem dawam, many men; kani-vant, in the house; kötc-u-van, in the basket. The suffix -its is a diminutive: aipa-ts, boy; picö-ts, girl; üñap-itc, baby; öcaw-its, old man; mutudj-atc, hummingbird.

Demonstratives and Interrogatives.

The demonstratives and interrogatives, as compared with Ute, are:



i-tc, i-tc-ma, this.

hin-tc, hin-ai, hin-anuc, this.

i-va, here.

i-vat, here.

ma-g‘ai, this, he.

ma-c, this, he, pl. ma-mo-ca.

ma-ña, ma-ñai, mañ, his, him.

ma-ic, ma-ña-ic, his, pl. ma-ma-ic.

ma-va, there.


u-va-tc, there.

o-va, o-vai, there.

u-an-ma, that.

o-anc, u-anc, that, the, he.


yen, yan-ak, yan-akuc, here, here it is

ha-ña, ha-ñ, who.

in, in-ara, hin-unik, who.

imp-e, himp, what.

imb-, what.

ha-g‘ava, where.


ha-nupai, how much.


The adverbial ending in both dialects appears to be -va, the substantival or personal to be -ña in Chemehuevi and -c or -ac in Ute. The demonstrative stems are i- (or hin-), ma-, and u- (or o-, perhaps ua). Ute in, who, perhaps rests on misunderstanding, Chemehuevi ha- being the regular Shoshonean stem for who and where. In both dialects imb- occurs for what; the usual Shoshonean form is hi-.


The following Chemehuevi words not included in the vocabulary previously printed 16 have been obtained:

Man, dawatc, dawam; baby, üñapitc; head, totsi-n; hair, totsive-an; ear, nañkava-n; eye, pu’i, pu-im; mouth, tömpa-n; tongue, ag‘-un, ax; tooth, tawa-n, tau; neck, qura-n; throat, baqwa-n; nail, macitco-on; shoulder, añaravitcava-n; arm, upper, añavu-n, lower, mantsakwi-n; hand, maura-n; belly, sawüy-an; back, pitsoqwa-n; leg, yu’-un; foot, nampa-n; knee, dañ-an; bone, höa-n; heart, piyüw-an; liver, nümu-n; blood, baüpi; bow, atc; road, bö; sky, tovump; rain, iwarüx; snow, nüvavi; fire, kun; smoke, gwike; ash, gutcap; coal, ukwive; dog, puñguts; bear, bapaux; panther or wild-cat,

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duk or dukumutc; skunk, puni; jackrabbit, qam; rabbit, tavutc; owl, uputc; crow, atapuitc; rattlesnake, kwanadjitc; white, tocareman; large, avan; good, haöp, haüp; ye, müni; many, avat-em; see, pun-.


The Chemehuevi material obtained has led to a comparison with the Kawaiisu vocabularies printed in the preceding Shoshonean treatise. Kawaiisu is the most westerly of the Ute-Chemehuevi dialects, being spoken in the Tehachapi mountains. It is separated from Paiute and Chemehuevi by a stretch of territory, the dialects spoken in which, while known to be Shoshonean, are still undetermined. It is quite possible that they are not of the Ute-Chemehuevi group, in which case Kawaiisu would be territorially detached from the remainder of its dialectic division.

Like Ute and Chemehuevi, Kawaiisu shows suffixes for the possessive pronouns. The forms in the published vocabulary are -n, -na, for the first person, and -m, -mi, -mi for the second person. A second vocabulary, obtained from an informant whose native dialect was that of Kern river, throughout showed -na for my and -bi for your. While these forms appear to be exaggerations, they almost certainly point to -na and -mi as the stem forms for these pronominal suffixes, which suffer some reduction owing to the Ute-Chemehuevi habit of not fully articulating final vowels. There is thus a clear association of final a with the suffix of the first person, and of final i with the suffix of the second person; and in this respect Kawaiisu differs from both Ute and Chemehuevi, in which it seems that the pronominal suffix is either purely consonantal or has a variable vowel preceding instead of following the consonant.

The plural nuwuwu, of nuwu, person, contains probably the Ute-Chemehuevi plural suffix -um, -uv, -u. The Kawaiisu numerals obtained end in -i, like those of Chemehuevi. The word obtained for nose, muvits, appears either to mean nostril or to have meant it originally, to judge from the term in other dialects. Büpi, blood, and nuwùpi, liver, show the noun termination -pi. The word yuaka was obtained as meaning world. The same word, yoaka, was obtained from the Serrano with the meaning "mountains,"

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and as the base of the term yoaka-yam, with which the Serrano designate the Ute-Chemehuevi in general. Adjectives of color in Kawaiisu possess an ending -gita, and most verbs were obtained with the ending -nami. The demonstratives, i-tü, this, ma-, that, i-wana, here, u-wenu, there, show the Chemehuevi stems i, ma, and u. The interrogatives are the usual ha- for who and where, and hi for what. The word düvigani, sweat-house, appears to mean "earth-house," and is interesting as a compound of two nouns. This process, however frequent in Nahuatl, is rather rare in Shoshonean. While the word for earth was obtained as dipa in Kawaiisu, düvi has a close analogue in Chemehuevi tövi-p, and gani is house.


257:14 Amer. Anthr., n.s., X, 74, 1908.

259:15 These forms and the Chemehuevi ones make doubtful the statement (Am. Anthr., n.s., X, 76, 1908), based on the forms tcaxatc-in, my younger brother, and witc-im, your knife, that the Ute noun-endings are not lost before pronominal elements. The final -tc of tcaxatc and witc is perhaps not a noun-ending, though Chemehuevi wi would seem to favor such an explanation for witc. If this -tc is not an ending, the only Ute-Chemehuevi noun-suffix as yet determined is v, p.

260:16 Present series, IV, 71, 1907.

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