Wichita Language Class
Doris McLemore and Gary McAdams
Click here to see and hear sample words in the Wichita language.
ABOUT THE WICHITA LANGUAGE
There are many ways in which Wichita is a very special language, compared with other languages from around the world. The sound system is extraordinarily simple; almost no other language has so few different sounds. But the way in which words change their pronunciation in different sentences is exceptionally complex, and the internal structure of individual words (what they are made of, and how those pieces fit together) is more complex than that of any other language.
Wichita is closely related historically to Pawnee, Arikara, and Kitsai. That means that some time in the past-- probably on the order of 800 to 1200 years ago-- the ancestors of these four tribe lived together and spoke one language, which then developed differently among the different groups after they were no longer living together. Some time even earlier than that, the ancestors of these groups and those of the Caddo also formed one group. Linguists have given the name Caddoan Family to this set of languages, but there is no sense in which any of the modern languages is older than any other-- they all go back to a single group, much as all the branches of a tree go back to the trunk, with no main branch being the source of any other branch, but rather all deriving from the trunk.
(The above description description was written by Dr. David Rood in the Introduction to Wichita Language Lessons, 1993.)