O'odham language

From Academic Kids

O'odham (often referred to by the names of its two nearly-identical main dialect groupings, Papago and Pima) is an Uto-Aztecan language of Southern Arizona and northern Sonora where the Papago and Pima reside. It is the second most widely-spoken Native American language in the United States of America, with over 12,000 speakers in the US, including over 180 monolinguals, and many more in Mexico. A reasonable estimate of the total number of O'odham speakers is 30000, but if everybody with the most basic level of fluency is counted, the number would probably be over 45,000.

O'odham ˝iok (sometimes written O'odham ˝eok) is the native name for the language, ˝iok meaning speech or language.

See also: Common phrases in different languages



Consonants and semi-consonants:

b - [b]
c - [ʧ]
d - [dˁ]
ḍ - [t]
ḏ - [d]
g - [g]
h - [h]
j - [ʤ]
k - [k]
l - [ɮ]
m - [m]
n - [n]
˝ - [ɲ]
ŋ - [ŋ]
p - [p]
s - [s]
ṣ - [ʃ]
t - [tˁ]
v - [v] *
w - [w] *
y - [j]
ĭ - [ʰ]
' - [ʔ]


a - [a]
e - [ə]
i - [i]
o - [ɔ]
u - [ʊ]

: - vowel length mark

Papago/Pima w/v

In Papago, the two sounds [v] and [w] have merged completely into [w], whereas in Pima, the distinction is still made. For example, Pima cu:vĭ /ʧʊːvʰ/ (jackrabbit) is written and pronounced cu:wĭ /ʧʊːw/ in Papago, but Pima wuai /wʊai/ (deer) is written and pronounced identically in Papago. Thus, the letter "v" is not used to write Papago, but it is used to write Pima.

Etymological vs. Phonetic spelling

There is some disagreement among speakers as to whether the spelling of words should be only phonetic, or whether etymology should be concerned.

For example: oamajda vs. wuamajda ("frybread"; some people may also use a c instead of a j), oam means "yellow/brown/orange" and thus this is a compound word of sorts. Some people believe it should begin like any word that starts with a /ʊa/, wua, while others think its spelling should match that of the word oam (oam is in fact a form of s-oam, so while it could be spelt wuam itself, it is not because it is just a different declension of the same word) to reflect its etymology.

According to the regulatory bodies, "oamajda" is better, but they are always careful not to make any definitive rules on grammar, pronunciation, or minor orthographic issues because people are often very proud of their dialect or may feel very strongly about such issues.

External links


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