Quiripi language

Native to United States
Extinct ca. 1900
Language codes
ISO 639-3 qyp
Glottolog wamp1250[1]

The location of the Paugussett, Tunxis, Podunk, Quinnipiac, Mattabesic, Unquachog and their neighbors, c. 1600

Quiripi (pronounced /ˈkwɪrp/,[2] also known as Quiripi-Unquachog, Quiripi-Naugatuck, and Wampano) was an Algonquian language formerly spoken by the indigenous people of southwestern Connecticut and central Long Island,[3][4] including the Quinnipiac, Unquachog, Mattabesic, Podunk, Tunxis, and Paugussett (subgroups Naugatuck, Potatuck, Weantinock). It has been effectively extinct since the end of the 18th century,[5] although Frank T. Siebert, Jr., was able to record a few Unquachog words from an elderly woman in 1932.[6]

Affiliation and dialects

Eastern Algonquian branch of the Algonquian language family.[7][8] It shared a number of linguistic features with the other Algonquian languages of southern New England, such as Massachusett and Mohegan-Pequot, including the shifting of Proto-Eastern Algonquian */aː/ and */eː/ to /ãː/ and /aː/, respectively, and the palatalization of earlier */k/ before certain front vowels.[9][10] There appear to have been two major dialects of Quiripi: an "insular" dialect spoken on Long Island by the Unquachog and a "mainland" dialect spoken by the other groups in Connecticut, principally the Quinnipiac.[11][12]


Quiripi is very poorly attested,[13] though some sources do exist. One of the earliest Quiripi vocabularies was a 67-page bilingual catechism compiled in 1658 by Abraham Pierson, the elder, during his ministry at Branford, Connecticut,[3][14] which remains the chief source of modern conclusions about Quiripi.[4] Unfortunately, the catechism was "poorly translated" by Pierson,[4] containing an "unidiomatic, non-Algonquian sentence structure."[15] It also displays signs of dialect mixture.[16] Other sources of information on the language include a vocabulary collected by Rev. Ezra Stiles in the late 1700s[17] and a 202-word Unquachog vocabulary recorded by Thomas Jefferson in 1791,[6] though the Jefferson vocabulary also shows clear signs of dialect mixture and "external influences."[18] Additionally, three early hymns written circa 1740 at the Moravian Shekomeko mission near Kent, Connecticut, have been translated by Carl Masthay.[19]


Linguist Blair Rudes attempted to reconstitute the phonology of Quiripi, using the extant documentation, comparison with related Algonquian languages, as "reconstructing forward" from Proto-Algonquian.[20] In Rudes' analysis, Quiripi contained the following consonant phonemes:[21]

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p t k
Fricative s (ʃ)* h
Nasal m n
Rhotic r
Semivowel w j
^ /ʃ/ was a distinct phoneme only in the mainland dialect; in Unquachog it had merged with /s/

Quiripi's vowel system as reconstituted by Rudes was similar to that of the other Southern New England Algonquian languages. It consisted of two short vowels /a/ and /ə/, and four long vowels /aː/, /iː/, /uː/, and /ʌ̃/.[21]


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Wampano". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Salwen (1978:175)
  3. 1 2 Rudes (1997:1)
  4. 1 2 3 Goddard (1978:72)
  5. Goddard (1978:71)
  6. 1 2 Rudes (1997:5)
  7. Goddard (1978)
  8. Mithun (1999:327)
  9. Goddard (1978:75)
  10. Rudes (1997:27)
  11. Rudes (1997:6-7)
  12. Costa (2007:116, 119)
  13. Costa (2007:116, 118)
  14. Mithun (1999:331)
  15. Costa (2007:118)
  16. Costa (2007:116)
  17. Rudes (1997:4)
  18. Costa (2007:120)
  19. Rudes (1997:2)
  20. Rudes (1997:6)
  21. 1 2 Rudes (2007:18)


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