Yokuts languages

The Yokuts languages were traditionally spoken across the southern half of the Central Valley, both in the valley itself and in the Sierra foothills. While sometimes classified as a single language with a large amount of internal variation, they might also be considered distinct languages. In pre-contact times, there were nearly 40 different Yokuts languages with a total of 18,000 speakers (Kroeber 1925). Today, there are fewer than a dozen speakers of Wikchamni Yokuts, about half a dozen speakers of Choynimni Yokuts, less than two dozen speakers of Yawelmani Yokuts, and only a few speakers each of Chukchansi Yokuts and Tachi Yokuts (Golla 2011).

The Yokuts languages comprise one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family. This includes, in addition, Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Miwokan languages (Central Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Southern Sierra Miwok), the Ohlone languages (Awaswas, Chalon, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen), and the Wintuan languages (Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu).

Grammatical information

Thumbnail sketch of Yawelmani Yokuts by Mary R. Haas, based on an oral report by Stanley Newman [PDF] (Haas.063)

Selected archival materials at Berkeley

Further reading

  • Collord, Thomas. 1968. Yokuts grammar: Chukchansi. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Gamble, Geoffrey. 1978. Wikchamni grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Gamble, Geoffrey, ed. 1994. Yokuts texts. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1907. The Yokuts language of south central California. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 2:165-377. [PDF]
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1963. Yokuts dialect survey. University of California Anthropological Records 11:177-251. [PDF]
  • Newman, Stanley S. 1944. Yokuts language of California. New York: Viking.