Wichita Language


The Wichita Language is an extinct Caddoan language once spoken in Oklahoma by the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. The last fluent heritage speaker, Doris Lamar-McLemore, died in 2016.

Related Languages

Wichita is a member of the Caddoan language family, along with modern Caddo, Pawnee, Arikara, and Kitsai.

 

Wichita Dialects

When the Europeans began to settle North America, Wichita separated into three dialects:

  • Waco
  • Tawakoni
  • KirikirɁi:s (aka, Wichita Proper).

However, when the language was threatened and the number of speakers decreased, dialect differences largely disappeared.

Wichita is an agglutinative, polysynthetic language, meaning words have a root verb basis to which information is added; that is, morphemes (affixes) are added to verb roots.

These words may contain subjects, objects, indirect objects, and possibly indicate possession. Thus, surprisingly complex ideas can be communicated with as little as one word.

Nouns do not distinguish between singular and plural, as this information is specified as part of the verb. Wichita also does not distinguish between genders.

 

 

 

Article Index:

Fluent speakers of the Wichita tribe down to last woman

Oklahoma had been a state for only two decades when Doris Jean Lamar was born in 1927. Her first spoken words were not English, but an American Indian language taught to her by grandparents. Today, Lamar is the last fluent speaker in the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, a tribe of 2,300.