The Panamint language traditionally had three main varieties: the western variety (also called Coso) spoken around Owens Lake, in the Coso mountains, and in Panamint Valley; the central variety (also called Timbisha or Tümpisa Shoshone) spoken in Death Valley; and the eastern variety spoken in Grapevine Canyon, the Funeral Range, and near Beatty. In pre-contact times, there were probably no more than 500 speakers of Panamint (Kroeber 1925). Today, there are no more than two dozen first-language speakers, most of the Timbisha variety (Golla 2011).

Panamint is a member of the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Numic, it is most closely related to Shoshone, spoken throughout Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, and Comanche, spoken mainly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona. It is more distantly related to Northern Paiute, Mono, Kawaiisu, and Chemehuevi-Southern Paiute-Ute. The other Uto-Aztecan languages of California are Tubatulabal and the Takic languages (Cahuilla, Cupeño, Gabrielino, Juaneño, Kitanemuk, Luiseño, Serrano, and Tataviam).

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Further reading

  • Dayley, Jon P. 1989. Tümpisa (Panamint) Shoshone dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Dayley, Jon P. 1989. Tümpisa (Panamint) Shoshone grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • McLaughlin, John E. 1987. A phonology and morphology of Panamint. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kansas.
  • McLaughlin, John E. 2006. Timbisha (Panamint). LINCOM Europa.