The Chochenyo language was traditionally spoken on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, from Richmond in the north to Fremont in the south. During the mission period, Chochenyo was spoken at Mission San José. Other varieties may have been spoken further inland, in eastern Alameda County and in the San Ramon, Dublin, and Livermore Valley areas. In addition to vocabularies from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Chochenyo is attested in J. P. Harrington's fieldnotes. In pre-contact times, there were approximately 2000 speakers of Chochenyo (Levy 1978). Today, there are no first-language speakers (Golla 2011).
Chochenyo (also spelled "Chocheño") is an Ohlone (or "Costanoan") language, along with Awaswas, Chalon, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen. The Ohlone languages comprise one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family, within which they form a subgroup with the Miwokan languages (Central Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Southern Sierra Miwok). Penutian also includes Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Wintuan languages (Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu), and the Yokuts languages.
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Beeler, M. S. 1961. Northern Costanoan. International Journal of American Linguistics 3:191-1917.
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Heizer R. F., ed. 1952. California Indian linguistic records: The Mission Indian vocabularies of Alphonse Pinart. University of California Anthropological Records 15:1-84. [PDF]
- Heizer, R.F., ed. 1955. California Indian linguistic records: The Mission Indian vocabularies of H. W. Henshaw. University of California Anthropological Records 15:85-202. [PDF]
- Kroeber, Alfred L. 1910. The Chumash and Costanoan languages. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 9:237-271. [PDF]
- Mason, J. A. 1916. The Mutsun dialect of Costanoan based on the vocabulary of De La Cuesta. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 11:399-472. [PDF]