Zuni (Shiwi'ma)

Zuni or Zuñi is a language isolate spoken in the USA, mainly in Zuni Pueblo in western New Mexico, and in neighbouring eastern Arizona. Some words have been borrowed from nearby languages, including Hopi, Keresan and Pima, especially words related to religion. The native name for Zuni is Shiwi or Shiwi'ma (the Zuni way) and the Zuni call themselves A:shiwi.

In 2015 there were 9,620 speakers of Zuni, including children. It is the main language of communication in the Zuni Pueblo, and is used in homes, religious ceremonies and services, on the radio, and in tribal council meetings. The language and culture are taught in primary schools, and there is a literacy program to help Zuni speakers can read and write their langauge.

Ways of writing Zuni with the Latin alphabet have been devised by a number of linguists and anthropologists, including Stanley Newman and Dennis Tedlock. The current orthography was devised mainly by Curtis Cook, who recorded and transcribe hundreds of Zuni oral histories, folk tales and religious teachings, and produced textbooks for learning the language and other publications.

Zuni alphabet and pronunciation

Zuni alphabet and pronunciation

A colon is used to mark long vowels, e.g. A:shiwi (Zunis).

Sample text

  1. Le'na' benan k'okshi banan kwayi. Jesus Christ, ho'n a:wan Datchu God an Tsawak'ona andepbe:'a.
  2. Hish kya:koł ho'n a:wan Datchu God an beye:na:kwe deya'kowa Isaiah le'na' ts'ina: ya:k'yakkya. Ho'n a:wan Datchu God yam Tsawak le'anikwekkya, "Si! Wan yu'hadiyahk'ya! Ho' yam beye:na:kwe dom an kel a:k'yap, lukk'on dom an kwa'hoł demła yelede'unna.
  3. Luk hom an beye:na:kwe delibałda'kowa we'atchonan, a:ho'i le'a:wanikwanna, ‘Demł a:ho' a:wan Mosson an iydunona dekkwin don yam ik'e:na: k'okshuna:wa. Iydunon akkya don yelede'una:wa!'" Lesna' Isaiah ts'ina: ya:k'yakkya.


  1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
  2. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
  3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
    Mark 1: 1-3

Sample videos in and about Zuni

Information about Zuni | Numbers


Information about the Zuni language

Zuni translations of parts of the Bible

Language isolates

Adaizan, Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Candoshi-Shapra, Chitimacha, Eskayan, Hadza, Haida, Karuk, Kawésqar, Keres, Kuot, Kusunda, Kutenai, Natchez, Nihali, Nivkh, Páez, Purepecha, Sandawe, Seri, Sumerian, Tartessian, Ticuna, Tiwi, Tonkawa, Tunica, Urarina, Waorani, Wardaman, Washo, Yaghan, Yuchi/Euchee, Zuni

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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