The traditional Tamyen language area is to the south of San Francisco Bay. During the mission period, it was spoken at Mission Santa Clara. Tamyen is clearly attested only in a single wordlist recorded by Gregory Mengarini (printed in Powell 1877). Other wordlists exist, which may or may not represent Tamyen. In pre-contact times, there were approximately 1,200 speakers of Tamyen (Levy 1978). However, tribal members and language activists have been pursuing language revitalization and reclamation.

Map of the Ohlone languages
Map of the Ohlone languages (Richard L. Levy. 1976. Costanoan internal relationships. Berkeley: Archaeological Research Facility, University of California.)

Tamyen (also spelled “Tamien” and “Thamien”) is an Ohlone (or “Costanoan”) language, along with Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Rumsen, and Ramaytush. 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

Further reading

  • Hinton, Leanne. 2001. The Ohlone Languages. In Leanne Hinton & Kenneth Hale (eds.) The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice. San Diego: Academic Press
  • Milliken, Randall, Shoup, Laurence H. & Ortiz, Beverly R. Ohlone/Coastanoan Indians of the San Francisco Peninsula and their Neighbors, Yesterday and Today. Oakland: Archaeological and Historical Consultants. [PDF]
  • Powell, J. W. 1877. Linguistics. In Stephen Powers. Tribes of California, pp. 535-614. (Contributions to North American Ethnology, Volume 3.) Washington: Government Printing Office. [PDF]