|ʼOʼodham ha-ñeʼokĭ, ʼOʼodham ñiʼokĭ, Oʼodham ñiok|
|Native to||United States, Mexico|
|Region||Primarily south-central Arizona and northern Sonora|
|Ethnicity||Tohono Oʼodham, Akimel Oʼodham|
180 monolinguals (1990 census)
Official language in
|One of the national languages of Mexico|
|Regulated by||Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico; various tribal agencies in the United States|
Oʼodham (pronounced [ˈʔɔʔɔɖam]) or Papago-Pima is a Uto-Aztecan language of southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico, where the Tohono Oʼodham (formerly called the Papago) and Akimel Oʼodham (traditionally called Pima) reside. In 2000 there were estimated to be approximately 9,750 speakers in the United States and Mexico combined, although there may be more due to underreporting.
It is the 10th most-spoken indigenous language in the United States, the 3rd most-spoken indigenous language in Arizona after Western Apache and Navajo. It is the third-most spoken language in Pinal County, Arizona, and the fourth-most spoken language in Pima County, Arizona.
Approximately 8% of Oʼodham speakers in the US speak English "not well" or "not at all", according to results of the 2000 Census. Approximately 13% of Oʼodham speakers in the US were between the ages of 5 and 17, and among the younger Oʼodham speakers, approximately 4% were reported as speaking English "not well" or "not at all".
Native names for the language, depending on the dialect and orthography, include Oʼodham ha-ñeʼokĭ, Oʼottham ha-neoki, and Oʼodham ñiok.
The Oʼodham language has a number of dialects.
- Tohono Oʼodham
- Akimel Oʼodham
- Hia C-ed Oʼodham
Due to the paucity of data on the linguistic varieties of the Hia C-eḍ Oʼodham, this section currently focuses on the Tohono Oʼodham and Akimel Oʼodham dialects only.
|Tohono Oʼodham||Akimel Oʼodham||English|
|ñeñida||tamiam||to wait for|
|s-hewhogĭ||s-heubagĭ||to be cool|
|sisiṣ||hoʼiumi (but si꞉ṣpakuḍ, stapler)||to fasten|
|pi꞉ haʼicug||pi ʼac||to be absent|
There are other major dialectal differences between northern and southern dialects, for example:
|*ʼe꞉kheg||ʼe꞉heg||ʼe꞉keg||to be shaded|
The Cukuḍ Kuk dialect has null in certain positions where other Tohono Oʼodham dialects have a bilabial:
|Other TO dialects||Chukuḍ Kuk||English|
|jiwia, jiwa||jiia||to arrive|
For clarity, note that the terms Tohono Oʼodham and Papago refer to the same language; likewise for Akimel Oʼodham and Pima. Oʼodham phonology has a typical Uto-Aztecan inventory distinguishing 21 consonants and 5 vowels.
|High||i iː||ɨ ɨː||ʊ uː|
Most vowels distinguish two degrees of length: long and short, and some vowels also show extra-short duration (voicelessness).
- ṣe꞉l /ʂɨːɭ/ "Seri"
- ṣel /ʂɨɭ/ "permission"
- ʼa꞉pi /ʔaːpi/ "you"
- da꞉pĭ /daːpɪ̥/ "I don't know", "who knows?"
Papago /ɨ/ is pronounced [ʌ] in Pima.
Additionally, in common with many northern Uto-Aztecan languages, vowels and nasals at end of words are devoiced. Also, a short schwa sound, either voiced or unvoiced depending on position, is often interpolated between consonants and at the ends of words.
Allophony and distribution
- Extra short ⟨ĭ⟩ is realized as voiceless [i̥] and devoices preceding obstruents: cuwĭ /tʃʊwi̥/ → [tʃʊʍi̥]~[tʃʊʍʲ] "jackrabbit".
- /w/ is a fricative [β] before unrounded vowels: wisilo [βisiɭɔ].
- [ŋ] appears before /k/ and /ɡ/ in Spanish loanwords, but native words do not have nasal assimilation: to꞉nk [toːnk] "hill", namk [namk] "meet", ca꞉ŋgo [tʃaːŋɡo] "monkey". /p/, /ɭ/, and /ɖ/ rarely occur initially in native words, and /ɖ/ does not occur before /i/.
- [ɲ] and [n] are largely in complementary distribution, [ɲ] appearing before high vowels /i/ /ɨ/ /ʊ/, [n] appearing before low vowels /a/ /ɔ/: ñeʼe "sing". They contrast finally (ʼañ (1st imperfective auxiliary) vs. an "next to speaker"), though Saxton analyzes these as /ani/ and /an/, respectively, and final [ɲi] as in ʼa꞉ñi as /niː/. However, there are several Spanish loanwords where [nu] occurs: nu꞉milo "number". Similarly, for the most part [t] and [d] appear before low vowels while [tʃ] and [dʒ] before high vowels, but there are exceptions to both, often in Spanish loanwords: tiki꞉la ("tequila") "wine", TO weco / AO veco ("[de]bajo") "under".
There are two orthographies commonly used for the Oʼodham language: Alvarez–Hale and Saxton. The Alvarez–Hale orthography is officially used by the Tohono Oʼodham Nation and the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community, and is used in this article, but the Saxton orthography is also common and is official in the Gila River Indian Community. It is relatively easy to convert between the two, the differences between them being largely no more than different graphemes for the same phoneme, but there are distinctions made by Alvarez–Hale not made by Saxton.
|/a/||a ʼaʼal||a a'al||baby|
|/b/||b ban||b ban||coyote|
|/tʃ/||c cehia||ch chehia||girl|
|/ð/||d da꞉k||th thahk||nose|
|/ɖ/||ḍ meḍ||d med||run|
|/d/||ḏ juḏum||d judum||bear|
|TO /ɨ/, AO /ʌ/||e ʼeʼeb||e e'eb||stop crying|
|/ɡ/||g gogs||g gogs||dog|
|/h/||h haʼicu||h ha'ichu||something|
|TO /i/, AO /ɨ/||i ʼi꞉bhai||i ihbhai||prickly pear cactus|
|/dʒ/||j ju꞉kĭ||j juhki||rain|
|/k/||k ke꞉k||k kehk||stand|
|/ɭ/||l lu꞉lsi||l luhlsi||candy|
|/m/||m mu꞉ñ||m muhni||bean(s)|
|/n/||n na꞉k||n nahk||ear|
|/ɲ/||ñ ñeʼe, mu꞉ñ||n, ni ne'e, muhni||sing, bean(s)|
|/ŋ/||ŋ aŋhil, wa꞉ŋgo||ng, n anghil, wahngo||angel, bank|
|/ɔ/||o ʼoʼohan||o oʼohan||write|
|/p/||p pi||p pi||not|
|/s/||s sitol||s sitol||syrup|
|/ʂ/||ṣ ṣoiga||sh shoiga||pet|
|/t/||t to꞉bĭ||t tohbi||cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii)|
|/u/||u ʼu꞉s||u uhs||tree, wood|
|/v/||v vainom||v vainom||knife|
|/w/||w wuai||w wuai||male deer|
|/j/||y payaso||y pa-yaso||clown|
|/ʔ/||ʼ ʼaʼan||' a'an||feather|
|/ː/||꞉ ju꞉kĭ (see colon (letter))||h juhki||rain|
The Saxton orthography does not mark word-initial /ʔ/ or extra-short vowels. Final ⟨i⟩ generally corresponds to Hale–Alvarez ⟨ĭ⟩ and final ⟨ih⟩ to Hale–Alvarez ⟨i⟩:
- Hale–Alvarez to꞉bĭ vs. Saxton tohbi /toːbĭ/ "cottontail rabbit"
- Hale–Alvarez ʼa꞉pi vs. Saxton ahpih /ʔaːpi/ "I"
There is some disagreement among speakers as to whether the spelling of words should be only phonetic or whether etymological principles should be considered as well.
For instance, oamajda vs. wuamajda ("frybread"; the spellings oamacda and wuamacda are also seen) derives from oam (a warm color roughly equivalent to yellow or brown). Some believe it should be spelled phonetically as wuamajda, reflecting the fact that it begins with /ʊa/, while others think its spelling should reflect the fact that it is derived from oam (oam is itself a form of s-oam, so while it could be spelled wuam, it is not since it is just a different declension of the same word).
Oʼodham has relatively free word order within clauses; for example, all of the following sentences mean "the boy brands the pig":
- ceoj ʼo g ko꞉jĭ ceposid
- ko꞉jĭ ʼo g ceoj ceposid
- ceoj ʼo ceposid g ko꞉jĭ
- ko꞉jĭ ʼo ceposid g ceoj
- ceposid ʼo g ceoj g ko꞉jĭ
- ceposid ʼo g ko꞉jĭ g ceoj
In principle, these could also mean "the pig brands the boy", but such an interpretation would require an unusual context.
Despite the general freedom of sentence word order, Oʼodham is fairly strictly verb-second in its placement of the auxiliary verb (in the above sentences, it is ʼo):
- cipkan ʼañ "I am working"
- but pi ʼañ cipkan "I am not working", not **pi cipkan ʼañ
Verbs are inflected for aspect (imperfective cipkan, perfective cipk), tense (future imperfective cipkanad), and number (plural cicpkan). Number agreement displays absolutive behavior: verbs agree with the number of the subject in intransitive sentences, but with that of the object in transitive sentences:
- ceoj ʼo cipkan "the boy is working"
- cecoj ʼo cicpkan "the boys are working"
- ceoj ʼo g ko꞉ji ceposid "the boy is branding the pig"
- cecoj ʼo g ko꞉ji ceposid "the boys are branding the pig"
- ceoj ʼo g kokji ha-cecposid "the boy is branding the pigs"
The main verb agrees with the object for person (ha- in the above example), but the auxiliary agrees with the subject: ʼa꞉ñi ʼañ g kokji ha-cecposid "I am branding the pigs".
Three numbers are distinguished in nouns: singular, plural, and distributive, though not all nouns have distinct forms for each. Most distinct plurals are formed by reduplication and often vowel loss plus other occasional morphophonemic changes, and distributives are formed from these by gemination of the reduplicated consonant:
- gogs "dog", gogogs "dogs", goggogs "dogs (all over)"
- ma꞉gina "car", mamgina "cars", mammagina "cars (all over)"
- mi꞉stol "cat", mimstol "cats"
Oʼodham adjectives can act both attributively modifying nouns and predicatively as verbs, with no change in form.
- ʼi꞉da ṣu꞉dagĭ ʼo s-he꞉pid "This water is cold"
- ʼs-he꞉pid ṣu꞉agĭ ʼañ hohoʼid "I like cold water"
The following is an excerpt from Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program: Taḏai. It exemplifies the Salt River dialect.
- Na꞉nse ʼe꞉da, mo꞉ hek jeweḍ ʼu꞉d si we꞉coc, ma꞉ṣ hek Taḏai siskeg ʼu꞉d ʼuʼuhig. Hek ʼaʼanac c wopo꞉c si wo skegac c ʼep si cecwac. Kuṣ ʼam hebai hai ki g ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼoʼoidam k ʼam ʼupam da꞉da k ʼam ce꞉ ma꞉ṣ he꞉kai cu hek ha na꞉da. ʼI꞉dam ʼOʼodham ṣam ʼeh he꞉mapa k ʼam aʼaga ma꞉ṣ has ma꞉sma vo bei hek na꞉da ʼab ʼamjeḍ hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Ṣa biʼi ʼa ma꞉ṣ mo ka꞉ke hek Taḏai ma꞉ṣ mo me꞉tk ʼamo ta꞉i hek na꞉da ha we꞉hejeḍ ʼi꞉dam ʼOʼodham. Taḏai ṣa꞉ ma so꞉hi ma꞉ṣ mo me꞉ḍk ʼamo ta꞉i g na꞉da hek Tatañki Jioṣ. Tho ṣud me꞉tkam, ʼam "si ʼi nai꞉ṣ hek wo꞉gk" k gau mel ma꞉ṣ ʼam ki g Tatañki Jioṣ.
In Saxton orthography:
- Nahnse ehtha, moh hek jeved uhth sih vehchoch, mahsh hek Tadai siskeg uhth uʼuhig. Hek aʼanach ch vopohch sih vo skegach ch ep sih chechvach. Kush am hebai hai kih g Oʼottham sham oʼoitham k am upam thahtha k am cheh mahsh hehkai chu hek ha nahtha. Ihtham Oʼothham sham eh hehmapa k am aʼaga mahsh has mahsma vo bei hek nahtha ab amjeth hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Sha biʼih a mahsh mo kahke hek Tadai mahsh mo mehtk amo tahʼih hek nahtha ha vehhejed ihtham Oʼottham. Tadai shah ma sohhih mahsh mo mehdk amo tahʼih g nahtha hek Tatanigi Jiosh. Tho shuth mehtkam, am "sih ih naihsh hek vohgk" k gau mel mahsh am kih g Tatanigi Jiosh.
|For a list of words relating to Oʼodham language, see the Oʼodham language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Oʼodham at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Webuilder Archived 2007-02-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tohono Oʼodham". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Estrada Fernández, Zarina, and Andrés Oseguera Montiel. "La documentación de la tradición oral entre los pima: el diablo pelea con la luna." Indiana (03418642) 32 (2015).  "El pima bajo es una lengua yutoazteca (yutonahua) de la rama tepimana. Otras tres lenguas de esta rama son el tepehuano del norte, el tepehuano del sur o sureste y el antiguo pápago, actualmente denominado oʼotam en Sonora y tohono oʼodham y akimel oʼodham (pima) en Arizona"
- Saxton, Dean, Saxton, Lucille, & Enos, Susie. (1983). Dictionary: Tohono Oʼodham/Pima to English, English to Tohono Oʼodham/Pima. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press
- Saxton, Dean. (1963). Papago Phonemes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 29, 29–35
- Zepeda, Ofelia. (1983). A Tohono Oʼodham Grammar. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.
- Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program. Taḏai. Salt River, AZ: Oʼodham Piipaash Language Program
|Oʼodham language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|