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Wichita Language
tawá:kharih
Tawakoni
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Wichita Language Class

 WCEP Focuses on Prayer, Song and Spoken Language for ONAYLF

 

Hill Sisters

Two of the WCEP winners at the 2018 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair. From left: Hayden Hill, first place winner in Grades 3-5 Individual Spoken Prayer; and Brianna Hill, first place winner in Grades 3-5 Individual Traditional Song. 

Class Instructor

Gary McAdams

Click here to see and hear sample words in the Wichita language.

 

ABOUT THE WICHITA LANGUAGE

 

There are many ways in which Wichita is a very special language, compared with other languages from around the world. The sound system is extraordinarily simple; almost no other language has so few different sounds. But the way in which words change their pronunciation in different sentences is exceptionally complex, and the internal structure of individual words (what they are made of, and how those pieces fit together) is more complex than that of any other language.

Group Photo ONAYLF 

This group photo represents four categories where WCEP won trophies at the 2018 Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair. The following categories are: First Place--Grades 6-8 Small Group Traditional Song (Leyla and Elizabeth Saldana); First Place--Grades 9-12 Individual Spoken Language (Charlie McAdams); First Place--Grade 9-12 Large Group Traditional Song (Kitikiti'sh Little Sisters); Second Place--Grades 9-12 Individual Modern Song (Makennah McAdams); and Third Place--Small Group Traditional Song--Wichita Young Man Society. 

 

Wichita is closely related historically to Pawnee, Arikara, and Kitsai. That means that some time in the past-- probably on the order of 800 to 1200 years ago-- the ancestors of these four tribe lived together and spoke one language, which then developed differently among the different groups after they were no longer living together. Some time even earlier than that, the ancestors of these groups and those of the Caddo also formed one group. Linguists have given the name Caddoan Family to this set of languages, but there is no sense in which any of the modern languages is older than any other-- they all go back to a single group, much as all the branches of a tree go back to the trunk, with no main branch being the source of any other branch, but rather all deriving from the trunk.

 

(The above description description was written by Dr. David Rood in the Introduction to Wichita Language Lessons, 1993.)