Palaihnihan languages

Palaihnih, Laikni
Linguistic classificationHokan ?
  • Shasta–Palaihnihan ?
    • Palaihnihan

Palaihnihan (also Palaihnih) is a language family of northeastern California. It consists of two closely related languages, both now extinct:

  1. Atsugewi (†)
  2. Achumawi (†) (ís siwa wó disi, also known as Achomawi, Pit River Indian)


The original reconstruction of proto-Palaihnihan suffered from poor quality data. David Olmsted's dictionary depends almost entirely upon de Angulo, who did not record the phonological distinctions consistently or well,[2] and carelessly includes Pomo vocabulary from a manuscript in which he (de Angulo) set out to demonstrate that Achumawi and Pomo are not related.[3] William Bright has also pointed out problems with Olmsted's methods of reconstruction.[4] The reconstruction is being refined with newer data.[5]

Good, McFarland, & Paster (2003) conclude there were at least three vowels, *a *i *u, and possibly marginal *e, along with vowel length and ablaut. Consonants were as follows:[5]

  Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular (Epi)glottal
Stop plain p t k q ʔ
aspirated tʃʰ  
ejective tʃʼ  
Fricative   s       ʜ   h
Nasal plain m n      
Trill plain r      
Approximant plain w l j      

Genetic relations

The Palaihnihan family is often connected with the hypothetical Hokan stock. Proposed special relationships within Hokan include Palaihnihan with Shastan (known as Shasta-Achomawi) and within a Kahi sub-group (also known as Northern Hokan) with Shastan, Chimariko, and Karuk.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Palaihnihan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Nevin 1991, 1998.
  3. ^ Gursky, Karl-Heinz (1987). "Achumawi und Pomo, eine besondere Beziehung?". Abhandlungen der völkerkundlichen Arbsgemeinschaft. Nortorf. 57.
  4. ^ Bright, William; Olmsted, D. L. (1965). "Review of A history of Palaihnihan phonology by D. L. Olmstead". Language. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America. 41 (1): 175–178. doi:10.2307/411871. JSTOR 411871.
  5. ^ a b Good, McFarland, & Paster (2003) "Reconstructing Achumawi and Atsugewi: Proto-Palaihnihan revisited"


  • Bright, William; Olmsted, D. L. (1965). "[Review of A history of Palaihnihan phonology by D. L. Olmstead]". Language. 41 (1): 175–178. doi:10.2307/411871. JSTOR 411871.
  • Good, Jeff; McFarland, Teresa; & Paster, Mary. (2003). Reconstructing Achumawi and Atsugewi: Proto-Palaihnihan revisited. Atlanta, GA. (Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, January 2–5).
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Nevin, Bruce E. (1991). "Obsolescence in Achumawi: Why Uldall Too?". Papers from the American Indian Languages Conferences, held at the University of California, Santa Cruz, July and August 1991. Occasional Papers on Linguistics 16:97-127. Department of Linguistics, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
  • Nevin, Bruce E. (1998). Aspects of Pit River phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1954). "Achumawi–Atsugewi non-reciprocal intelligibility". International Journal of American Linguistics. 20 (3): 181–184. doi:10.1086/464275.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1956). "Palaihnihan and Shasta I: Labial stops". Language. 32 (1): 73–77. doi:10.2307/410654. JSTOR 410654.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1957). "Palaihnihan and Shasta II: Apical stops". Language. 33 (2): 136–138. doi:10.2307/410725. JSTOR 410725.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1959). "Palaihnihan and Shasta III: Dorsal stops". Language. 35 (4): 637–644. doi:10.2307/410603. JSTOR 410603.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1958). Atsugewi Phonology, International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 24, No. 3, Franz Boas Centennial, Volume (Jul., 1958), pp. 215–220.
  • Olmstead, David L. (1964). A history of Palaihnihan phonology. University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 35). Berkeley: University of California Press.

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