is a moribund language spoken in Oklahoma
. It is agglutinative
, but surface forms often differ to actual morphemic
shapes due to the usage of a series of unusual phonological processes at morpheme boundaries.
The phonemes of Wichita are as follows:
Stop Affricate Fricative Approximant
Alveolar t c s r
Velar k y
Labio-velar kw w
Glottal ? h
Vowels i e a
(+ length, + overlength)
(+ high tone)
Oddities about this phoneme set are instantly apparent:
- It is asymmetrical; no two methods of articulation have the same number of phonemes.
- Labials are entirely absent as a class, although they occur in two roots: kammac to grind corn and camma:ci to hoe, to cultivate.
- Nasals are absent, although the tap r may be nasalised, producing a phonetic n, and the bilabial nasal m occurs in the two verb roots mentioned above.
- Overlong vowels are represented, occurring in very few of the world's languages (although Estonian is one).
- A vertical vowel system is in usage, where the features [+/- front] and [+/- back] are not necessary to distinguish between the vowels; again, this is found in very few languages, otherwise occurring only in the Northwest Caucasian languages. Rounded vowels are not present.
Wichita utterances can include single words that would require a full sentence in English: kiya:kíriwa:c?árasarikita?ahí:riks he brought the big quantity of meat up to the top by means of many trips
Syllables in Wichita can theoretically be up to CCCCVCCCC in size; however, syllables are generally much shorter than this, more commonly CV or CVC. Initial consonant clusters noted include rhinc?a trousers, ckha:r?a night and kskha:r?a hip joint. The largest cluster noted in Wichita is five terms: nahi?inckskih while sleeping.
Wichita is spoken now by very few people. Less than a dozen fluent speakers remain, and the language is spoken very rarely, even among those who can still hold conversations in Wichita. It is generally agreed that, for the moment at least, there is no hope of saving the language.