|Native to||United States|
|Region||from Southeastern Oklahoma,to east central Mississippi and into Louisiana and Tennessee|
|Ethnicity||20,000 Choctaw (2007)|
|9,600 (2015 census)|
The Choctaw language, traditionally spoken by the Native American Choctaw people of the southeastern United States, is a member of the Muskogean family. Chickasaw, Choctaw and Houma form the Western branch of the Muskogean language family. Although Chickasaw is sometimes listed as a dialect of Choctaw, more extensive documentation of Chickasaw has shown that Choctaw and Chickasaw are best treated as separate but closely related languages.
The written Choctaw language is based upon the English version of the Roman alphabet and was developed in conjunction with the civilization program of the United States in the early 19th century. Although there are other variations of the Choctaw alphabet, the three most commonly seen are the Byington (Traditional), Byington/Swanton (Linguistic), and Modern (Mississippi Choctaw).
Many publications by linguists about the Choctaw language use a slight variant of the "modern (Mississippi Choctaw)" orthography listed here, where long vowels are written as doubled. In the "linguistic" version, the acute accent shows the position of the pitch accent, rather than the length of the vowel.
The discussion of Choctaw grammar below uses the linguistic variant of the orthography.
|+C||om, on, um, un|
|ɬ||lh||ł||hl, lh||ł, lh|
There are three dialects of Choctaw (Mithun 1999):
Other speakers live near Tallahassee, Florida, and with the Koasati in Louisiana, and also a few speakers live in Texas and California.
|Stop 1||p b||t||k||ʔ 2|
|Affricate||ch [ tʃ ]|
|Fricative||f||s 3||ɬ||sh [ ʃ 3 ]||h|
|Approximant||l||y [ j ]||w|
|Short 1||Long||Nasal 2|
Syllables of Choctaw
Choctaw verbs display a wide range of inflectional and derivational morphology. In Choctaw, the category of verb may also include words that would be categorized as adjectives or quantifiers in English. Verbs may be preceded by up to three prefixes and followed by as many as five suffixes. In addition, verb roots may contain infixes that convey aspectual information.
The verbal prefixes convey information about the arguments of the verb: how many there are and their person and number features. The prefixes can be divided into three sorts: agreement markers, applicative markers, and anaphors (reflexives and reciprocals). The prefixes occur in the following order: agreement-anaphor-applicative-verb stem.
The agreement affixes are shown in the following chart. The only suffix among the personal agreement markers is the first-person singular class I agreement marker /-li/. Third-person is completely unmarked for class I and class II agreement arguments and never indicates number.
|person markers||class I||class II||class III||class N||imperative|
Some authors (Ulrich 1986, Davies, 1986) refer to class I as actor or nominative, class II as patient or accusative and class III as dative. Broadwell prefers the neutral numbered labels because the actual use of the affixes is more complex. This type of morphology is generally referred to as active–stative and polypersonal agreement.
Class I affixes always indicate the subject of the verb. Class II prefixes usually indicate direct object of active verbs and the subject of stative verbs. Class III prefixes indicate the indirect object of active verbs. A small set of stative psychological verbs have class III agreement subjectsthe direct object; an even smaller set of stative verbs dealing primarily with affect, communication and intimacy have class III direct object.
As the chart above shows, there is no person-number agreement for third person arguments. Consider the following paradigms:
|first-person||singular||ili-habli-li-tok 1 |
'I kicked myself'
'I kicked us (few)'
'I kicked us (all)'
'I kicked you'
'I kicked you (pl.)'
'I kicked her/him/it/them'
'we kicked me'
|il-ili-habli-tok 1 |
'we kicked ourselves'
'we kicked you'
'we kicked you (pl.)'
'we kicked her/him/it/them'
'you kicked me'
'you kicked us (few)'
'you kicked us (all)'
|ish-ili-habli-tok 1 |
'you kicked yourself'
'ýou kicked you (pl.)'
'you kicked her/him/it/them'
'you (pl.) kicked me'
'you (pl.) kicked us (few)'
'you (pl.) kicked us (all)'
'you (pl.) kicked you'
|hash-ili-habli-tok 1 |
'you (pl.) kicked yourselves'
'you (pl.) kicked her/him/it/them'
'she/he/it/they kicked me'
'she/etc. kicked us (few)'
'she/etc. kicked us (all)'
'she/etc. kicked you'
'she/etc. kicked you (pl.)'
"she/etc. kicked her/him/it/them"
'she/etc. kicked herself/etc.'
Transitive active verbs seemingly with class III direct objects:
When a transitive verb occurs with more than one agreement prefix, I prefixes precede II and III prefixes:
For intransitive verbs, the subjects of active verbs typically have class I agreement. Because third-person objects are unmarked, intransitive active verbs are indistinguishable in form from transitive active verbs with a third-person direct object.
The subjects of stative verbs typically have II agreement. A small set of psychological verbs have subjects with class III agreement.
The set of agreement markers labelled N above is used with negatives.Negation is multiply marked, requiring that an agreement marker from the N set replace the ordinary I agreement, the verb appear in the lengthened grade (see discussion below), and that the suffix /-o(k)-/ follow the verb, with deletion of the preceding final vowel. The optional suffix /-kii/ may be added after /-o(k)-/. Consider the following example:
Compare this with the affirmative counterpart:
To make this example negative, the 1sI suffix /-li/ is replaced by the 1sN prefix /ak-/; the verb root iya is lengthened and accented to yield íiya; the suffix /-o/ is added, the final vowel of iiya is deleted, and the suffix /-kii/ is added.
Reflexives are indicated with the /ili-/ prefix, and reciprocals with /itti-/:
The following examples show modal and tense suffixes like /-aachii̱/ 'irrealis'(approximately equal to future), /-tok/ 'past tense', /-h/ 'default tenses':
There are also suffixes that show evidentiality, or the source of evidence for a statement, as in the following pair:
There are also suffixes of illocutionary force which may indicate that the sentence is a question, an exclamation, or a command:
Choctaw verb stems have various infixes that indicate their aspect.These stem variants are traditionally referred to as 'grades'. The table below shows the grades of Choctaw, along with their main usage.
|Name of Grade||How it is formed||When it is used|
|n-grade||infix n in the next to last (penultimate) syllable; put accent on this syllable||to show that the action is durative (lasts some definite length of time)|
|l-grade||put accent on next to last (penultimate) syllable; lengthen the vowel if the syllable is open||before a few common suffixes, such as the negative /-o(k)/ and the switch-reference markers /-cha/ and /-na/|
|hn-grade||insert a new syllable /-hV̱/ after the (original) next to last (penultimate) syllable. V̱ is a nasalized copy of the vowel that precedes it.||to show that the action of the verb repeats|
|y-grade||insert -Vyy- before the next to last (penultimate) syllable||to show delayed inception|
|g-grade||formed by lengthening the penultimate vowel of the stem, accenting the antepenultimate vowel, and geminating the consonant that follows the antepenult.||to show delayed inception|
|h-grade||insert -h- after the penultimate vowel of the stem.||to show sudden action|
Some examples that show the grades follow:
In this example the l-grade appears because of the suffixes /-na/ 'different subject' and /-o(k)/ 'negative':
The g-grade and y-grade typically get translated into English as "finally VERB-ed":
The hn-grade is usually translated as 'kept on VERBing':
The h-grade is usually translated "just VERB-ed" or "VERB-ed for a short time":
Nouns have prefixes that show agreement with a possessor.Agreement markers from class II are used on a lexically specified closed class of nouns, which includes many (but not all) of the kinship terms and body parts. This is the class that is generally labeled inalienable.
Nouns that are not lexically specified for II agreement use the III agreement markers:
Although systems of this type are generally described with the terms alienable and inalienable, this terminology is not particularly appropriate for Choctaw, since alienability implies a semantic distinction between types of nouns. The morphological distinction between nouns taking II agreement and III agreement in Choctaw only partly coincides with the semantic notion of alienability.
Choctaw nouns can be followed by various determiner and case-marking suffixes, as in the following examples, where we see determiners such as /-ma/ 'that', /-pa/ 'this', and /-akoo/ 'contrast' and case-markers /-(y)at/ 'nominative' and /-(y)a̱/ 'accusative':
The last example shows that nasalizing the last vowel of the preceding N is a common way to show the accusative case.
When there is an overt subject, it is obligatorily marked with the nominative case /-at/. Subjects precede the verb
When there is an overt object, it is optionally marked with the accusative case /-a̱/
The Choctaw sentence is normally verb-final, and so the head of the sentence is last.
Some other phrases in Choctaw also have their head at the end. Possessors precede the possessed noun in the Noun Phrase:
Choctaw has postpositional phrases with the postposition after its object:
Some common Choctaw phrases (written in the "Modern" orthography):
Other Choctaw words:
Counting to twenty:
At " Native Nashville " web , there is an Online Choctaw Language Tutor, with Pronunciation Guide and four lessons: Small Talk, Animals, Food and Numbers.
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|Choctaw edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|For a list of words relating to Choctaw language, see the Choctaw language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|