Omaha is a Western Siouan language spoken in parts of Nebraska and Oklahoma in the USA. In 2015 there were 12 fleunt speakers of Omaha, all of whom were over 70 years old. There are also about 150 people with some knowledge of the language.
Omaha is mutually intelligible with Ponca, which has a handful of speakers in Oklahoma and Nebraska. The Omaha and Ponca people consider their languages to be separate. However, some linguists consider them variants of one language: Omaha-Ponca, which is part of the Dhegiha dialect continuum along with Kansa, Osage and Quapaw.
The Omaha language was first documented in 1890 and 1891 by James O. Dorsey for the Bureau of American Ethnology. He devised a way of writing the language, known as the Dorsey Orthography, and other researchers came up with other ways of writing the language.
The orthography shown one below is used in the Omaha Nation Public School in Macy in Nebraska, and in Omaha Language Classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
An accute accent (á) is used to indicate syllable stress, and stress placement can change the meaning of words. For example: wáthatʰe = table; wathátʰe = food
\op Di´xe e´goñ-biama´. He´gazhi t'a´-biama´. Ga´xthoñ
athai´ te ha te´ une´.
\op Poñ´ka ama´di ahi´-biama´. Te´ wa´thatai te Poñ´ka ama´. Ki the´-ma she´toñ
\op di´xe iñ´choñ giniñ´ te noñpe´hii te Umoñ´hoñ ama´; uki´gthi'age e´goñ moñthiñ´i te.
\Small-pox / they were so, they say. / Not a few / they
died, they say. / Migrating / they went / , / buffalo / to
\Ponkas / at the / they arrived, they say. / Buffalo / ate them / Ponkas / the (sub.). / And / these / that far /
\small-pox / now / recovered / when / were hungry / Omahas / the (sub.); / indisposed / somewhat / they walked. /
Information about the Omaha language
Omaha & Ponca Digital Dictionary
Page last modified: 23.06.22
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