The traditional Serrano language area is in the San Bernadino Mountains and the adjacent regions of the Mojave Desert. (Vanyume, a related language, was spoken to the north.) In pre-contact times, there were probably no more than 1,500 speakers of Serrano (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there is only one known first-language speaker (Golla 2011). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization, and Serrano language courses began at California State San Bernandino in 2013. Serrano is a member of the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Takic, it is most closely related to Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Luiseño, 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

  • Benedict, Ruth. 1926. Serrano Tales. The Journal of American Folklore, 39:1-17. [PDF]
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: 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]
  • Hill, Kenneth. 1967. A grammar of the Serrano language. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. [PDF]
  • Hill, Kenneth. 2021. Serrano. International Journal of American Linguistics, 87:83-104. [PDF - may not be publicly available]
  • Ramón, Dorothy and Eric Elliott. 2000. Wayta’ yawa’ (Always believe). Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.