Pre-contact distribution of Maiduan languages
The Maiduan consists of 4 languages:
- Maidu (AKA Maidu proper, Northeastern Maidu, Mountain Maidu)
- Chico † (AKA Valley Maidu)
- Konkow (AKA Northwestern Maidu)
- Nisenan (AKA Southern Maidu)
The languages have similar phonologies (i.e. sound systems) but differ significantly in terms of grammar. They are not mutually intelligible, even though many works often refer to all of the speakers of these languages as Maidu. The Chico dialects are little known due to scanty documentation, so their precise genetic relationship to the other languages probably cannot be determined (Mithun 1999).
Chico is now extinct. The other languages are extremely endangered and nearing extinction: Northeastern Maidu has 1 or 2 speakers, Konkow has 1–2 speakers, Nisenan has only 1 speaker (Hinton 1994, reported in Gordon 2005).
Maiduan is often considered in various Penutian phylum proposals. It was one of the original members of California Penutian (the Penutian "core").
- Callaghan, Catherine A. (1997). "Evidence for Yok-Utian", International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan., 1997), pp. 18–64.
- Heizer, Robert F. (1966). Languages, territories, and names of California Indian tribes.
- Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
- Shipley, William. (1961). "Maidu and Nisenan: A Binary Survey", International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1961), pp. 46–51.