Language




The 2015 Wiyot Language Calendar is now available!

Theme: Seasonal Foods

Cover page (photo from Wiyot Day 2011):

A huge thank you to the many tribal members, staff, and family members who contributed nearly 100 photos in total for the 2015 calendar! I have used as many of your photos as I could fit in the calendar, and it is now available ($15 each) at:

  • The Wiyot Tribe main office (Table Bluff)
  • Eureka Chamber of Commerce gift shop (2112 Broadway St.)
  • The Clarke Museum (240 E St., Eureka)
  • Booklegger bookstore (402 2nd St., Eureka)
  • Eureka Books (426 2nd St., Eureka)
The vendor list will be updated as I get calendars out to more locations.
(Enrolled tribal elders and everyone who contributed photos will each receive one free copy; it may take a couple of weeks to get the free copies out to everyone, so please be patient!)

 

Wiyot words in the 2015 language calendar

Below is a page-by-page guide to the Wiyot words and phrases found in the 2015 calendar (click on orange text to hear audio):

 

Cover
Goutseyouwilh Valhuk: one year (literally, 'salmon come once')

 

January
tswal: steelhead
Goutgudaluqh: January ('one month')
Goushipguluvughurruk: New Year's Day* ('year starts again')

 

February
gou'daw: eel
Rridutgudaluqh February ('two months')

 

March
houlhi': clams
douguwu'n: cockles
Rrikutgudaluqh: March ('three months')
Gawu gutgadughurruk: first day of spring ('spring begins')

 

April
we'daw: salmonberries
gutswurradi: checkered lily (fritillaria) bulbs/garlic (lit. 'has a lot of children')
Yagaboukva'r: April* ('the one that is never counted')

 

May
hiwat: abalone
We'sagh Hulutgudaluqh: May ('five months')

 

June
tigha'ri': trout
mip: blackberries
Duklhulouk Hulutgudaluqh: June ('six months')

 

July
bouderoush: Brodiaeia bulbs, a.k.a. "Indian potatoes"
siswayuplhi': seaweed (lit. 'black bunches')
Ha'luw Hulutgudaluqh: July ('seven months')

 

August
halhuqh: deer
boukshughutsguqhe': thimbleberries (lit. 'little one hangs upside down')
Hiwiduw Hulutgudaluqh: August ('eight months')

 

September
ga'muk: acorns (also acorn soup)
bitw: mortar
tou'l: pestle
vou'gul: huckleberries
Vushurouk Hulutgudaluqh: September ('nine months')

 

October
valhuk: salmon (lit. 'to feast')
Rrulouk Hulutgudaluqh: October ('ten months')
Gouwil Goutsuwe'n: CA Indian Day ('Indian one sky = day')

 

November
suplh: crabs
Vegoutsutgudaluqh: November ('eleven months')

 

December
vichush: mussels
Verridutgudaluqh: December ('twelve months')
Bawu'n: First day of winter ('rain = winter')

 

January 2015:
halalilh: ducks (lit. 'it flies around')
guluwesweda'di': pintail sprig
bitsouwarretskuqhe': sea snails
dugak: quail

 

Days of the week
If you have any questions about calendars, feel free to contact me: lynnika@wiyot.us.

Hou'! (Thank you.)

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Wiyot conversational phrases (audio)

As part of this year's Live Your Language Alliance (LYLA) conference, participants were asked to record a list of everyday conversational phrases in their language. Here is the Wiyot recording we made (Wiyot spoken by Michelle Hernandez, with 2 phrases by Della Prince):

If you would like to see the phrases in print (English and Wiyot), you can download the list of phrases as a PDF document.

Wiyot vocabulary DVD available!

I have created a vocabulary DVD based on a word list spoken by Della Prince and recorded by Karl Teeter in 1954 (part of the Wiyot audio collection housed by UC Berkeley's California Language Archive). The DVD combines the original recording with images and captions; in response to tribal members' feedback, I have also added short pauses after each word to allow viewers time to practice the vocabulary. Here is a screenshot to show you what the video looks like:

If you are a tribal member and would like to learn some Wiyot vocabulary, please contact me for a free copy of the DVD.

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Attention Smartphone Users!

If you have a smartphone, you can download a QR code scanning app (I chose "QR Code Reader", a free app from Scan, Inc., available for iPhone and Android) and use it to hear Wiyot words pronounced on your phone. I have created a set of vocabulary cards for items around the home and office (door, table, mirror, etc.) with scannable QR codes that link to *native speaker* recordings of each word (speakers are Della Prince and Nettie Rossig). If tribal members are interested, I will continue to create new scannable vocabulary cards (including longer phrases) so that you can practice whenever and wherever you like!

 

Below is a sample QR code for the word dutkshulh* ("door"); you can scan it right on the computer screen to see how it works:

Click here to download the entire set of home/office vocabulary with QR codes, which you can print out and post around your home or office. Then let me know what you think, and what types of vocabulary or phrases you would like to practice with QR codes.

 

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Wiyot Placename Video

Unfortunately, this website does not support video (awerr! "oh dear!"). However, I have posted a short Wiyot language video at the Wiyot Tribe's Facebook page, so please visit us there to check it out. (I am very pleased that the video has had nearly 7000 views as of Jan. 29!)

The video is the product of a fellowship from the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. In it, you will learn the native Wiyot names for several prominent sites in Wiyot territory, such as Humboldt Bay, Eel River, Eureka, etc. Wherever possible, I have included audio of native Wiyot speakers saying these names, and I discuss the meanings and the history behind each place name.

If you are a Wiyot tribal member and would like a free DVD copy of the placename video, please contact me and I will be happy to send you one.

 

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Free Wiyot language materials for Tribal members

I have a number of language-related mini-"publications" available for Wiyot tribal members who would like to know more about the language. These are language materials which I have cleaned up and converted to standard Wiyot spellings from their original (often handwritten) format. Please contact me for a free copy of any of the following:

 

  • An 1889 Wiyot vocabulary recorded by Jeremiah Curtis (booklet with index)
  • A 1924 Wiyot vocabulary recorded by Edward S. Curtis (short booklet, no index)
  • Selected Wiyot stories in English and Wiyot (as recorded by A.L. Kroeber, Gladys Reichard, Karl Teeter & others)
  • Transcripts of Wiyot audio recordings (the audio itself is available through the UC Berkeley website at http://cla.berkeley.edu/item/10148?tab=digital; I have transcripts of over 30 word lists & am working to transcribe the remaining lists)

 

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Sound files © The Regents of the University of California and The Berkeley Language Center, Audio Archive of Linguistic Fieldwork. † = spoken by Nettie Rossig; * = spoken by Della Prince.

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Historical & Linguistic Background of Wiyot

The Wiyot language (called Soulátluk' — literally ‘your jaw’ — by some speakers) was the native language of the Wiyot people until the death of Della Prince, the last fluent Wiyot speaker to collaborate with linguists, in 1962. Wiyot is linguistically interesting for several reasons. First, along with Yurok, it is one of only two Algic (also called Algonguian) languages in the Pacific Northwest. Other Algic languages are found in Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the northern Atlantic coast, and include languages like Chippewa, Cree, Cheyenne and Arapaho. (see map below)

Another interesting characteristic of Wiyot is that it is a polysynthetic language, which means that complex ideas — sometimes the equivalent of an entire English sentence — can be expressed using a single verb with multiple prefixes and suffixes. Here are a couple of examples:

a.  gidutiguliswiwilh

gi     dutigulis     wiw     ilh

finish bathe       self     he/she

'S/he finishes bathing himself/herself.'

b.  dagudugunugulhu’n

da               gudugunu     gulh      u’n

for a while      very           hurt        its

'There is a lot of hurting.'

 

Language Materials

There are no remaining fluent speakers of Wiyot (no one alive today grew up speaking Wiyot as their first language). However, there is a great deal of documentation of the Wiyot language that was compiled when the language was still spoken natively. These materials include written word lists, texts, and grammatical descriptions dating from the late 1800’s to the 1960’s, as well as audio recordings of songs, words and phrases, and narrative texts from the 1950’s-1960’s. Here is a sample of what some of the written materials look like:

1. J. Curtin (1889):

2.  G. Reichard (1925):

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. G. Reichard (1922):

4.  Teeter & Nicholls (1993):

Because these documents were created by many different researchers, each of whom had a different system for writing the language, and contain information given by Wiyot speakers from different dialects and time periods, it is a challenge to form a complete picture of the language.

(To fully understand this, imagine that the last English speaker had died several decades ago. Then imagine that the only information we had today about the English language was a dozen or so texts and word lists collected by, say, Swahili-speaking researchers who did not know anything about English spelling. THEN imagine that the English speakers who provided the researchers with their information lived between about 1885 and 1960, and some of them were from Minnesota while others were from South Carolina or New York!

Revitalization

'Language revitalization' refers to efforts to bring endangered languages (languages with very few native speakers) back into broader use in a community by teaching the language to non-fluent or semi-fluent speakers. But can a language with no fluent speakers be brought back into use? It may be more difficult, but Wiyot would not be the first community to try it: revitalization of ‘extinct’ or ‘dormant’ languages (also called ‘language revival’) is underway in the Miami (Oklahoma — also an Algic language) and Mutsun California tribes; and modern Hebrew was revived from religious and traditional texts after centuries during which it was used only ceremonially.

Projects

Current activities

  • Children’s language classes
  • Adult language classes
  • Language committee
  • Multimedia dictionary creation
  • Language articles in the Wiyot newsletter

Plans for the near future

  • Online language-learning resources
  • Digital texts with audio and word-level translation

Long-term goals

  • Creation of a digital database containing ALL known Wiyot words, phrases and texts from manuscript, print, and audio sources
  • Publication of a comprehensive Wiyot-English/English-Wiyot dictionary
  • Training of language teachers within the Wiyot Tribe

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