Lake Miwok language

Lake Miwok
Native to United States
Region Lake County, California
Ethnicity Lake Miwok
Extinct (1 speaker cited 1994)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lmw
Glottolog lake1258[2]

The Lake Miwok language is a moribund (or possibly extinct) language of Northern California, traditionally spoken in an area adjacent to the Clear Lake. It is one of the languages of the Clear Lake Linguistic Area, along with Patwin, East and Southeastern Pomo, and Wappo.[3]



   Short   Long 
 Front   Back   Front   Back 
 High (close)  i u
 Mid  e o
 Low (open)  a


Labial Dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive plain p t [t̻] [t̺] k ʔ
aspirated [t̻ʰ] ṭʰ [t̺ʰ]
ejective [t̻ʼ] ṭʼ [t̺ʼ]
voiced b d [d̺]
Fricative voiceless s [ʃ] ł h
ejective ƛʼ
Affricate voiceless c [t͡s] č [t͡ʃ]
ejective [t͡sʼ] čʼ [t͡ʃʼ]
Nasal m n
Approximant w l (r) j

The consonant inventory of Lake Miwok differs substantially from the inventories found in the other Miwok languages. Where the other languages only have one series of plosives, Lake Miwok has four: plain, aspirated, ejective and voiced. Lake Miwok has also added the affricates č, c, čʼ, ƛʼ and the liquids r and ł. These sounds appear to have been borrowed through loanwords from other, unrelated languages in the Clear Lake area, after which they spread to some native Lake Miwok words.[3][4]


The word order of Lake Miwok is relatively free, but SOV (subject–object–verb) is the most common order.[5]

Verb morphology

Pronominal clitics

 Singular   Dual   Plural 
 1st person  ka ʔic ma, ʔim
 2nd person  ʔin moc mon
 3d person non-reflexive  ʔi koc kon
 3d person reflexive  hana hanakoc hanakon
 indefinite  ʔan

In her Lake Miwok grammar, Callaghan reports that one speaker distinguishes between 1st person dual inclusive ʔoc and exclusive ʔic. Another speaker also remembers that this distinction used to be made by older speakers.[6]

Noun morphology

Case inflection

Nouns can be inflected for ten different cases:

"A flea is sitting on your forehead."
ʔóle-nṣúluk tájṣáapa
coyote-possessiveskin man-possessivehair
"coyote skin" "the man's hair"
"Did you see the fish?"
It has the allomorph before a verb containing any other subject prefix:
"I saw the horse"
If the object noun does not immediately precede the verb, or if the verb is in the imperative, the allomorph of the Objective is -uc:
"Eat the fish"

Possessive clitics

Lake Miwok uses pronominal clitics to indicate the possessor of a noun. Except for the 3d person singular, they have the same shape as the nominative pronominal clitics, but show no allomorphy.

 Singular   Dual   Plural 
 1st person  ka ʔic ma
 2nd person  ʔin moc mon
 3d person non-reflexive  ʔiṭi koc kon
 3d person reflexive  hana hanakoc hanakon
 indefinite  ʔan

The reflexive hana forms have the same referent as the subject of the same clause, whereas the non-reflexive forms have a different referent, e.g.:


  1. Lake Miwok at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Lake Miwok". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 Campbell 1997, p.336
  4. Callaghan 1964, p.47
  5. Callaghan 1965, p.5
  6. Callaghan 1963, p.75


Callaghan, Catherine A. (1963). A Grammar of the Lake Miwok Language. University of California, Berkeley. 
Callaghan, Catherine A. (1964). "Phonemic Borrowing in Lake Miwok". In William Bright (ed.). Studies in Californian Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 46–53. 
Callaghan, Catherine A. (1965). Lake Miwok Dictionary. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian Languages. The Historical Linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. 
Callaghan, Catherine A. "Note of Lake Miwok Numerals." International Journal of American Linguistics, vol. 24, no. 3 (1958): 247.
Keeling, Richard. "Ethnographic Field Recordings at Lowie Museum of Anthropology," 1985. Robert H. Lowie Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. v. 2. North-Central California: Pomo, Wintun, Nomlaki, Patwin, Coast Miwok, and Lake Miwok Indians
Lake Miwok Indians. "Rodriguez-Nieto Guide" Sound Recordings (California Indian Library Collections), LA009. Berkeley: California Indian Library Collections, 1993. "Sound recordings reproduced from the Language Archive sound recordings at the Language Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley." In 2 containers.

External links

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