The Siouan languages are spoken in the USA and Canada by a total of some 23,000 people. There is considerable mutual intelligibility between the Lakota and Dakota languages, but relatively limited mutual intellibility between the other Siouan languages.
The name "Sioux" is a French version of the Ojibwa word nadewisou, which means "treacherous snakes". The native names for the Sioux mean "An Alliance of Friends", which is Dakhota in the Santee dialect, Nakhota in the Yankton dialect and Lakhota in the Teton dialect. There are a number of different spellings of these names.
Siouan languages include:
Lakota (Lakhóta), spoken by about 9,000 people in seven tribes, the Oglala, in the US states of Northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota, North and South Dakota and northeastern Montana, and also in Canada
Western Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in two tribes: the Yankton and Yanktonai.
Eastern Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in four tribes: the Santee, Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute.
Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Stoney / Alberta Assiniboine (Nakoda) are not considered part of the "Sioux" language as they are not mutually intelligible or politically affiliated with the Sioux. However they do belong to the Siouan language family, as do many other languages.
The first alphabet for Sioux, known as Riggs, was devised by the missionaries Samuel and Gideon Pond, Stephen Return Riggs and Dr Thomas S. Williamson in 1834. They based their spelling system on the Santee dialect (Dakota) and used it to translate biblical texts into that dialect. The Dakota translation of the bible was well known and used among the Dakota and Lakota.
A revised version of this system was used in Riggs' Dakota Grammar, published in 1852, and in his Dakota-English dictionary, published in 1890. Since then a number of other Lakota and Dakota spelling systems have been devised, details of which can be found at: http://www.inext.cz/siouan/orthog.htm
There are several ways to write Dakota Sioux. This chart shows two methods: Albert White Hat's / Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC) orthography of 1973, and Jan Ullrich's 1992 orthography. Where they differ, the former is shown on the left, and the latter on the right.
More details about Dakota Sioux orthographies
Wic̀as̀a waƞ wayei k’a taḣc̄a num wic̀ao k̄eyap̄i’. T̄aƞyena wic̀apat̄e c̀’a tado k̄iƞ tas̀uƞk̄e k’iƞkiye c̀’a wana wi kuc̄iyena c̀aƞke t̄iyat̄ak̄iya k̄uyaƞk̄a k̄eyap̄i’. Maya waƞ apajejeyena asnik̄iya-iyot̄ak̄a uƞkaƞ akot̄aƞhaƞ wiƞyaƞ waƞ maya-akdakda tahenak̄iya uyaƞk̄a e waƞyak̄ yaƞk̄a keyap̄i’. Wana hihuƞni k’a wic̀as̀a kiƞ isakip̄ hinajiƞ k’eyas̀ inina yaƞk̄a uƞkaƞ haƞk̄eya kic̀i iyot̄ak̄e c’a – T̄oke iyemayak̄iyes̀ni se? T̄oka uƞkaƞ inina naƞk̄a ha? – eye c̀’a is̀ iya maya k̄iƞ ed hu ġeġeya iyot̄ak̄a k̄eyap̄i’.
Wičháša waƞ wayéi k’a tháȟča núm wičháo kéyápi’. Taƞyéna wičháphate č’a thadó kiƞ thašúƞke k’iƞkhíye č’a waná wí khúčiyena čhaƞkhé tiyátakiya kúyaƞka kéyápi’. Mayá waƞ aphážežeyena asníkiya-iyotaka uƞkháƞ akhótaƞhaƞ wíƞyaƞ waƞ mayá-akdákda thahénakiya úyaƞka e waƞyák yaƞká kéyápi’. Waná hihúƞni k’a wičháša kiƞ isákhip hinážiƞ k’éyaš inína yaƞká uƞkháƞ haƞkéya kičhí íyotake č’a – Tokhe iyémayakiyešni se? Tókha uƞkháƞ inína naƞká he? – eyé č’a íš iyá mayá kiƞ éd hú ǧéǧeya íyotaka kéyápi’.
Part of a story called "The Deer Woman" written down by Ella Deloria
Source: http://www.languagegeek.com/siouan/y_dakotastory.html - shows the same text in a number of different spelling systems
Hećeś hokśila wan kunśitku kićilaḣći ti śke. Yunkan anpetu wan el kunśitku kin ćanḳin iyaya ćanke hokśila kin iśnala tiyata yanke ćin ićunhan hitunkala wan taku yaḳoġa-han ća naḣun keye. Ḳeyaś he winuḣćala kin woyute mahel yuha kin hokśila kin hehanhunniyan slolye śni keye. Ho, tka wana le naḣun kin un wole yunkan wasna wan lila waśte kunśitku kin gnaka ća he e ća hitunkala kin yuta-han keye.
Part of a story called "Turtle Moccasin Boy" written down by Ella Deloria and in the Riggs 1852 orthography
Source: http://www.languagegeek.com/siouan/lakotastory.html - shows the same text in eight different Lakota spelling systems
Eháŋni héčheš oyáte waŋ igláka áyiŋ na waná éthipi yuŋhĥáŋ wičháša waŋ tĥawiču kiŋ hečíya: "Winúĥča, itĥó wayé mní kte ló, " eyá.
Ečháš toháŋ waglí šni héhaŋ éna thí po, " eyá.
Long ago, the tribe was moving camp and were erecting their tipis at the new place when a man said to his wife: " Wife, I think I must go out and hunt."
So don't move on with the tribe if they should go
on, but stay camped here until I return."
An extract from "Man rescued by eagles" by George Bushotter
You can see and hear the complete story at
Wičháša na wíŋyaŋ otóiyohi
iglúhapi na iyéhaŋyaŋ wówažapi.
Tȟaŋmáhel slol'íč'iyapi na kičhíwičhowepi
s'e kičhíčhuwapi kta héčha.
Translated into Lakota Sioux by Joe Bellman
Each and every man and woman is free and has equal rights to things. They are sure of themselves in their mind, and they should treat each other as if they were siblings.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards
one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Information about Sioux languages
Lakota Language Consortium
Lakhota Sioux Heritage, Culture and Language site
ELKDREAMER: David Little Elk - information about the Lakota language, Lakota courses and music: http://www.malakota.com
Oceti Wakan - Sacred Fireplace (a non profit dedicated to the preservation of lakota culture and language): http://www.ocetiwakan.org
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