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 (The Morongo Band of Mission Indians).
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
- 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.