Northern Paiute language

Northern Paiute
Native to United States
Region Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho
Ethnicity 6,000 Northern Paiute and Bannock (1999)[1]
Native speakers
700 (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pao
Glottolog nort2954[2]

Northern Paiute /ˈpt/,[3] also known as Numu and Paviotso, is a Western Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family, which according to Marianne Mithun had around 500 fluent speakers in 1994.[4] Ethnologue reported the number of speakers in 1999 as 1,631.[5] It is closely related to the Mono language.


Northern Paiute's phonology is highly variable, and its phonemes have many allophones.[6]


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plain Lab.
Stop p t k ʔ
Nasal m n ŋ
Fricative s h
Affricate ts
Approximant w j


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Open-Mid ɔ
Open a

Language revitalization

In 2005, the Northwest Indian Language Institute of the University of Oregon formed a partnership to teach Northern Paiute and Kiksht in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation schools.[7] In 2013, Washoe County, Nevada became the first school district in Nevada to offer Northern Paiute classes, offering an elective course in the language at Spanish Springs High School.[8] Classes have also been taught at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada.[9]

Elder Ralph Burns of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation worked with University of Nevada, Reno linguist Catherine Fowler to help develop a spelling system. The alphabet uses 19 letters. They have also developed "a language-learning book, “Numa Yadooape,” and a series of computer disks of language lessons.[9]


Northern Paiute is an agglutinative language, in which words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.


  1. 1 2 Northern Paiute at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Northern Paiute". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. Mithun (1999:541)
  5. "Report on Northern Paiute". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  6. Haynes, Erin Flynn (2010). "Phonetic and Phonological Acquisition in Endangered Languages Learned by Adults: A Case Study of Numu (Oregon Northern Paiute)". PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
  7. Joanne B. Mulcahy (2005). "Warm Springs: A Convergence of Cultures" (Oregon History Project). Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  8. Joe Hart (Director). "Nevada Proud: Students get a chance to learn native language in school". My News 4. KRNV, Reno, NV. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  9. 1 2 Vogel, Ed (2014-02-01). "Paiute elder rescues language near extinction". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2014-02-26.


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