Nez Perce is a member of the Sahaptian branch of the Plateau Penutian language family. It is spoken on the Nez Perce in Reservation central Idaho, on the Colville Reservation in Washington, and on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon. In 2007 there were 20 native speakers, and maybe 50 people with some knowledge of the language.
The name Nez Perce comes from the French nez percé (pierced nose), which was based on confusion about nose piercing practices. A number of tribes do pierce their noses, but not the Nez Perce, who call themselves Nimipu ("the people"). The language is also known as Nez Percé, and the native name is Nimipuutímt.
Efforts to revitalize the language include the Niimiipuu Language Program, which aims to preserve, revitalize and document the language. There are classes on the Umatilla and Nez Perce Reservations, and at the University of Idaho. There is also a dictionary, grammar, some literature, and translations of the Bible.
Several different ways of writing Nez Perce have been devised. The one shown here is preferred spelling system, and was approved by the Advisory Board of Elders of the Nez Perce Tribe in 1997. It is based on the orthography used in Haruo Aoki's Nez Perce Dictionary (1994).
Stress is indicated with an acute accent (á). On double vowels, only the first vowel is accented (áa).
Download an alphabet chart for Nez Perce (Excel)
'alatálo kúnk'u hiiptéetu nacó'x̣ yox̣tíite piswéepe. tamsóynim páatyoxna, "yóx̣ wées 'íinim píswe!" tamsóynim “wéet'u tá'c,” penekúuye ku’swecéen, támsoy káa 'alatálo píiwepeke'yke. píiwepeke'yke káa píiwepeke'yke piswéewecet káa 'iceyéeyenm hinéeshexne way'áatkin'ix. 'iceyéeyenm hinéesne, "wéec’u!" pamc'itpáaswisana, kawó 'iceyéeyenm qepsqepsnéewitki káa hináashanya píswe. yóx̣ kaló!
Yellow jacket always usually ate salmon that same on rock. Ant he yelled at him, "That is my rock!" Ant "not good," he thought it thus for that reason, Ant and Yellow jacket fought each other. They fought and they fought because of the rock and Coyote he saw them from afar. Coyote told them, "STOP!" They ignored him, then Coyote used powers and he made them rock. That’s all.
Information about Nez Perce
Klamath, Nez Perce, Sahaptin, Yakama
Languages written with the Latin alphabet
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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