The traditional Luiseño language area is on the San Luis Rey River, from the coast to its headwaters above Lake Henshaw, and to the south, as well as on the upper Santa Margarita River and around Lake Elsinore-Temecula. In pre-contact times, there may have between 3,000 and 4,000 speakers of Luiseño (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are no first-language speakers (Elliot 2002). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation (Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians). Luiseño is a member of the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Takic, it is most closely related to Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Juaneño, and more distantly to Gabrielino, Kitanemuk, Serrano, and Tataviam. The other Uto-Aztecan languages of California are Tubatulabal and the Numic languages (Chemehuevi-Southern Paiute-Ute, Comanche, Kawaiisu, Mono, Northern Paiute, Panamint, and Shoshone).

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Selected materials in other archives

Further reading

  • Bright, William. 1968. A Luiseño dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Elliott, Eric. 1999. Dictionary of Rincón Luiseño. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, San Diego.
  • Haas, Lisbeth and Tac, Pablo. 2011. Pablo Tac, Indigenous Scholar: Writing on Luiseño Language and Colonial History, C.1840. University of California Press.
  • Hill, Jane H and Hill, Kenneth C. 2019. Comparative Takic Grammar. UC Berkeley Survey Reports, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages. [PDF]
  • Hyde, Villiana and Eric Elliott. 1994. Yumáyk yumáyk. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Hyde, Villiana. 1971. An introduction to the Luiseño language. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. and George William Grace. 1960. The Sparkman grammar of Luiseño. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Sparkman, P.S. 1905. Sketch of the Grammar of the Luiseño Language of California. American Anthropologist, 7:656-662. [PDF]