Seri is a language isolate spoken by about a thousand people in two villages
on the coast of Sonora, Mexico. The native name for the language, cmiique
iitom, means "(that) with which a Seri person speaks". The language
has also been called kunkaak, a version of the native name for the Seri
people, comcaac. The origins of the name Seri are uncertain but
are thought to come from another language in the region.
Seri is thought to be the last surviving member of its language
family and nothing is know of the other members. Efforts to find
links between Seri and other languages, such as the Hokan, Pomoan and
Chontal languages, have produced no clear evidence of connections.
The Seri alphabet was developed in the 1950s by Edward W. and Mary B. Moser,
American linguists working for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL),
and later revised by Stephen Marlett, a linguist who also works for SIL.
The first Seri wordlist was collected in the 1850s when the language was
believed to be a dialect of Arabic, and since the 1950s some stories have
been published, the New Testament has been translated, and a number of other
publications in Seri have appeared.
Seri alphabet and pronunciation
represents /k/ before the vowels e and i, while c is used elsewhere
Long vowels are indicated by doubling the vowel letter.
The voiced lateral /l/ is indicated with an underline under l, i.e. <Ḻ ḻ>.
Stress is not usually indicated, but can be marked with an acute accent over the stressed vowel.
Seahorse was there (as a person, on the earth). What is called teddybear
cactus was there. What is called cholla was there. What is called pencil
cholla was there. The sagueso cactus was there. The saguaro cactus was there.
Those were coming there, the seahorse was there. He also was a person there.