Choctaw language
The Choctaw language, traditionally spoken by the Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

 people of the southeastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, is a member of the Muskogean family
Muskogean languages
Muskogean is an indigenous language family of the Southeastern United States. Though there is an ongoing debate concerning their interrelationships, the Muskogean languages are generally divided into two branches, Eastern Muskogean and Western Muskogean...

. Although Chickasaw
Chickasaw language
The Chickasaw language is a Native American language of the Muskogean family. It is agglutinative and follows the pattern of subject–object–verb. The language is closely related to, though perhaps not entirely mutually intelligible with, Choctaw...

 is sometimes listed as a dialect of Choctaw, more extensive documentation of Chickasaw has shown that Choctaw and Chickasaw are best treated as separate but closely related languages.


The written Choctaw language is based upon English version of the Roman alphabet and was developed in conjunction with the civilization program of the United States in the early 19th century. Although there are other variations of the Choctaw alphabet, the three most commonly seen are the Byington (Original), Byington/Swanton (Linguistic), and Modern (Mississippi Choctaw).

Byington (Original)

Byington/Swanton (Linguistic)

Modern (Mississippi Choctaw)

Modern (linguistic variant)

Many publications by linguists about the Choctaw language use a slight variant of the "modern" orthography listed here, where long vowels are written as doubled. In the "linguistic" version, the acute accent shows the position of the pitch accent, rather than the length of the vowel.

The discussion of Choctaw grammar below uses the linguistic variant of the orthography.


There are three dialects of Choctaw (Mithun 1999):
  1. "Native" Choctaw on the Choctaw Nation
    Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
    The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is a semi-autonomous Native American homeland comprising twelve tribal districts. The Choctaw Nation maintains a special relationship with both the United States and Oklahoma governments...

     in southeastern Oklahoma
  2. Mississippi Choctaw of Oklahoma on Chickasaw Nation
    Chickasaw Nation
    The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized Native American nation, located in Oklahoma. They are one of the members of the Five Civilized Tribes. The Five Civilized Tribes were differentiated from other Indian reservations in that they had semi-autonomous constitutional governments and...

     of south central Oklahoma (near Durwood)
  3. Choctaw of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
    Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
    The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is one of three federally recognized tribes of Choctaw Indians. On April 20, 1945, the tribe organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Also in 1945 the Choctaw Indian Reservation was created in Neshoba and surrounding counties...

     near Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Philadelphia is a city in and the county seat of Neshoba County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 7,303 at the 2000 census.- History :...

Other speakers live near Tallahassee, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, and with the Koasati in Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, and also a few speakers live in Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...



  • When suffixes are mentioned within this section, please refer to the section on Morphology for further clarification.


Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Central consonant
A central or medial consonant is a consonant sound that is produced when air flows across the center of the mouth over the tongue. The class contrasts with lateral consonants, in which air flows over the sides of the tongue rather than down its center....

Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n
p   b t k ʔ
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f s ɬ ʃ h
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

l j w

  1. The only voiced
    Voice (phonetics)
    Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds, with sounds described as either voiceless or voiced. The term, however, is used to refer to two separate concepts. Voicing can refer to the articulatory process in which the vocal cords vibrate...

     plosive is /b/. The voiceless plosives /p/, /t/, and /k/ may become partially voiced between vowels, especially /k/ and especially for male speakers. Additionally, the voiceless stops are slightly aspirated
    Aspiration (phonetics)
    In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

     at the onset of words and before stressed syllables, behaving like English voiceless plosives.
  2. According to one analysis, all words must end in a consonant. Words apparently ending in a vowel actually have either a glottal stop
    Glottal stop
    The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

     /ʔ/ or a glottal fricative
    Voiceless glottal fricative
    The voiceless glottal transition, commonly called a "fricative", is a type of sound used in some spoken languages which patterns like a fricative or approximant consonant phonologically, but often lacks the usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant...

     /h/ as the final consonant. These consonants become realized when suffixes are attached.
  3. The phonemes /s/ and /ʃ/ are neutralized at the end of words.

Free variation

  • There is pronunciation variability of some consonants in Choctaw that occurs with some speakers.
  1. /ɬ/, the voiceless lateral fricative, is pronounced as a voiceless dental fricative /θ/.
  1. The voiceless labiodental fricative /f/ is pronounced as a voiceless bilabial fricative /ɸ/.

Phonological processes of consonants

  • In Choctaw /k/, the voiceless velar plosive
    Voiceless velar plosive
    The voiceless velar stop or voiceless velar plosive is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is k....

    , is realized as [ɣ], a voiced velar fricative
    Voiced velar fricative
    The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. It is not found in English today, but did exist in Old English...

    , when in intervocalic position.
/k/→[ɣ] / V____V

  • The voiceless glottal fricative
    Voiceless glottal fricative
    The voiceless glottal transition, commonly called a "fricative", is a type of sound used in some spoken languages which patterns like a fricative or approximant consonant phonologically, but often lacks the usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant...

     /h/ is realized as a voiceless palatal fricative
    Voiceless palatal fricative
    The voiceless palatal fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is . The symbol ç is the letter c with a cedilla, as used to spell French words such as façade...

     [ç] when it precedes the voiceless palato-alveolar affricate /tʃ/.
/h/→[ç] / ____/tʃ/


Long Nasal
Nasal vowel
A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth. By contrast, oral vowels are ordinary vowels without this nasalisation...

Close front
Close front unrounded vowel
The close front unrounded vowel, or high front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ....

i ĩː
Close-mid back
Close-mid back unrounded vowel
The close-mid back unrounded vowel, or high-mid back unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Its symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is , called "ram's horns"...

o õː
Open central
Open central unrounded vowel
The open central unrounded vowel, or low central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in many spoken languages. The International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no dedicated letter for this sound between front and back...

a ãː
  1. In closed syllables, [ɪ], [ʊ], and [ə] occur as allophonic
    In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

     variants of /i/, /o/, and /a/. Traditional orthography distinguishes the lax allophones from the tense vowels but failed to distinguish phonemic long vowels from phonemic short ones.
  2. Nasal vowels are not distinguished by duration as are oral vowels. However, nasal vowels are phonetically long, suggesting an underlying phoneme /N/.


  1. In Choctaw, pitch cannot create minimal pairs between words. Nouns in Choctaw will have pitch realization at the penultimate syllable or the ultimate syllable. Verbs in Choctaw will have pitch realization at morphemes indicating tense, however pitch can directly precede the tense morpheme on occasion.

Syllable structure

Syllables of Choctaw>
Syllable Type Example
V Light a.bih
CV Light no.sih
VV Heavy ii.chih
CVV Heavy'
V Heavy a.chi'
CV Heavy ta.chi'
VC Heavy'
CVC Heavy ha.bish.ko'
VVC Super Heavy óok.cha-cha
CVVC Super Heavy náaf.ka'
VC Super Heavy at
CVC Super Heavy ok.hish
*(C)VCC Super Heavy tablit.tapt
*CCV Super Heavy ski.tii.nnih

  1. As seen in the chart above, there are three syllable structure types in Choctaw: Light, Heavy and Super Heavy. And all the possible syllables in Choctaw must contain at least one vowel of any quality.
  2. Syllables cannot end with a consonant clusters, CC. However, there is an exception with the structure *(C)VCC which occurs when a word in Choctaw ends with the suffix /-t/.
  3. Syllables do not begin with consonant clusters, CC, however, there is an exception to this rule described below in initial /i-/ deletion that will result with a syllable *CCV .

Rhythmic lengthening

  • Rhythmic lengthening is the process of lengthening the vowel duration of an even numbered CV syllable in Choctaw. However there is a limitation on this process because vowels at the end of words in Choctaw are not permitted to undergo this process. Also when an even numbered syllable is a verbal prefixes class I or III, the affix's vowel is not permitted to undergo lengthening,and this is the same for noun prefixes class III as well.

The smallest possible word

  • The smallest possible word in Choctaw must contain either two short vowels or one long vowel.

  • /A-/ insertion: In Choctaw there are verbs that only contain one short vowel in their roots, and without an affix attached to the verb root, these verbs become impossible utterances because Choctaw requires either two short vowel or a long vowel for a word to be formed. In order to overcome this issue an initial A- prefix is attached to the root of the verb.
*bih → a-bih

Glide insertion

  • When a verb root ends with a long vowel, a glide /w/ or /j/ is inserted after the long vowel.
  • ∅→/wa/ / V:____
  1. Where V: is 00
  2. boo-a-h→bóowah
    • ∅→/ja/ / V:____
  3. Where V: can be either ii or aa
  4. talaa-a-h→talaayah

/i-/ deletion

  • In Choctaw, there is a group of nouns which contain an initial /i-/ that encodes for 3rd person possession. This initial /i-/ can be optionally deleted, however if the /i/ is part of a VC syllable structure, the C is also deleted, because in most cases the resulting CCV syllable is not a permissible syllable structure at the onset of words.
/i/→∅ / #____
Part 1: /i + C/→∅ + /C/ / #____
Part 2: /∅ + C/→∅ / #____

/-l-/ infix assimilation

  • The verbal infix /l/ is realized as /h, ch, or ɬ/ when /l/ precedes a voiceless consonant.
/l/→/h, tʃ, or ɬ/ / ____[- voiced] C

The phonological processes of the suffix /-li/

  • There are several assimilation processes that occur with the suffix /-li/. First when the verbal suffix /-li/ is preceded by any of the following consonants /f/ /ɫ/ /h/ /m/ /n/ or /w/, the /l/ assimilates to the corresponding consonant that precedes it. Second, when the verbal suffix /-li/ is preceded by the consonant /b/, the /l/ is realized as /b/. Third, when the verbal suffix /-li/ is preceded by the consonant /p/, the /p/ is realized as /b/. Lastly, when the verbal suffix /-li/ is preceded by the consonant /t/, the /t/ is realized as /l/.

/l/→/f, ɫ, h, m, n, w/ / /f, ɫ, h, m, n, w/____
/kobaf-li-h/→ kobaaffih

/l/→/b/ / /b/____
/atob-li-h/→ atobbih

/p/→/b/ / /b/____
/tap-li-h/→ tablih

/t/→/l/ / ____/l/
/palhat-li-h/→ pallalih

  • There are two deletion processes that occur with the suffix /-li/. First when the verbal suffix /-li/ precedes the verbal suffix /-tʃi/, the suffix /-li/ is optionally deleted. However, this is only allowed if the resulting syllable after deletion will not be a consonant cluster. The other process occurs when the verbal suffix /-li/ precedes the suffix /-t/, which results with the suffix /-li/ being optionally deleted. However, this only allowed if the syllable /-li/ has not already gone under phonological processes as described above.
/li/→∅ / ____/tʃi/

/li/→∅ / ____/t/

Schwa insertion

  • Schwa insertion: when a glottal fricative /h/ or a velar stop /k/ precedes a voiced consonant within a consonant cluster, a schwa /ə/ is inserted to break up the consonant cluster.
∅→/ə/ / /h/____[+voiced] consonant
∅→/ə/ / /k/____[+voiced] consonant

Vowel deletion

  • Vowel deletion in Choctaw is the process of a short vowel being deleted at a morpheme boundary. This process occurs when an affix containing a short vowel at the morpheme boundary binds to a word which also contains a short vowel at the morpheme boundary.
  1. For the majority of vowel deletion cases, the preceding short vowel is deleted at the morpheme boundary.
V→∅ / ____V
  1. In the case when a class II suffix attaches to a word that results with two short vowels occurring together, the short vowel that follows the class II suffix will be deleted.
V→∅ / V____

Verbal morphology

Choctaw verbs display a wide range of inflectional and derivational morphology. In Choctaw, the category of verb may also include words that would be categorized as adjectives or quantifiers in English. Verbs may be preceded by up to three prefixes and followed by as many as five suffixes. In addition, verb roots may contain infixes that convey aspectual information.

Verb prefixes

The verbal prefixes convey information about the arguments of the verb—how many there are and their person and number features. The prefixes can be divided into three sorts: agreement
Agreement (linguistics)
In languages, agreement or concord is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. Agreement happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates....

 markers, applicative markers, and anaphors
Anaphora (linguistics)
In linguistics, anaphora is an instance of an expression referring to another. Usually, an anaphoric expression is represented by a pro-form or some other kind of deictic--for instance, a pronoun referring to its antecedent...

 (reflexives and reciprocals). These prefixes occur in the following order:
Agreement-Anaphor-Applicative-Verb Stem

Agreement affixes

The agreement affixes are shown in the following chart. All but one of them are prefixes, only (-li) is a suffix.
1st sg. (-li) sa- am-/a- ak-
2nd sg ish- chi- chim-/chi- chik-
1st pl. il-/ii- pi- pim-/pi- kil-/kii-
2nd pl. hash- hachi- hachim-/hachi- hachik-
unmarked im/i- ik-

I, II, and III are neutral labels for the three person marking paradigms. Some authors (Ulrich 1986, Davies, 1986) have called them actor–patient–dative or nominative–accusative–dative.

The 1sg I agreement marker is /-li/, the only suffix among the agreement markers. It is discussed in this section along with the other agreement markers.

I, II, and III agreement are conditioned by various kinds of arguments. Transitive active verbs show the most predictable pattern. With a typical transitive active verb, the subject will take I agreement, the direct object will take II agreement, and the indirect object will take III agreement.

As the chart above shows, there is no person-number agreement for third person arguments. Consider the following paradigms:
  • Habli-li-tok: 'I kicked him/her/it/them.'
  • Ish-habli-tok: 'You kicked him/her/it/them.'
  • Habli-tok: 'She/he/it/they kicked him/her/it/them.'
  • Ii-habli-tok: 'We kicked him/her/it/them.'
  • Hash-habli-tok: 'Y'all kicked him/her/it/them.'

  • Sa-habli-tok: 'She/he/it/they kicked me.'
  • Chi-habli-tok: 'She/he/it/they kicked you.'
  • Habli-tok: 'She/he/it/they kicked him/her/it/them.'
  • Pi-habli-tok. 'She/he/it/they kicked us.
  • Hachi-habli-tok: 'She/he/it/they kicked y'all.'

  • Am-anoli-tok: 'She/he/it/they told me.'
  • Chim-anoli-tok: 'She/he/it/they told you.'
  • Im-anoli-tok: 'She/he/it/they told him/her/it/them.'
  • Pim-anoli-tok: 'She/he/it/they told us.'
  • Hachim-anoli-tok: 'She/he/it/they told y'all.'

When a transitive verb
Transitive verb
In syntax, a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a direct subject and one or more objects. The term is used to contrast intransitive verbs, which do not have objects.-Examples:Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs:...

 occurs with more than one agreement prefix, I prefixes precede II and III prefixes:
  • Iichipísatok.
  • Ii-chi-písa-tok
  • 1pI-2sII-see-pt
  • 'We saw you.'

  • Ishpimanoolitok.
  • Ish-pim-anooli-tok.
  • 2sI-1pIII-tell-pt
  • 'You told us.'

Intransitive verbs show more complicated patterns of agreement. For intransitive verbs, the subjects of active verbs typically trigger I agreement, the subjects of stative verbs typically trigger II agreement, and III agreement is found with the subjects of some psychological verbs.
  • Baliililitok.
  • Baliili-li-tok.
  • run-1sI-pt
  • 'I ran.'

  • Saniyah.
  • Sa-niya-h.
  • 1sII-fat-tns
  • 'I am fat.'

  • Aponnah.
  • A-ponna-h.
  • 1sIII-skilled-tns
  • 'I am skilled.'

This type of morphology is generally referred to as active–stative.

The set of agreement markers labelled N above is used with negatives. Negation is multiply marked, requiring that an agreement marker from the N set replace the ordinary I agreement, the verb appear in the lengthened grade (see discussion below), and that the suffix /-o(k)-/ follow the verb, with deletion of the preceding final vowel. The optional suffix /-kii/may be added after /-o(k)-/. Consider the following example:
  • Akíiyokiittook.
  • Ak-íiya-o-kii-ttook
  • 1sN-go-neg-neg-dpast
  • 'I did not go.'

Compare this with the affirmative counterpart:
  • Iyalittook
  • Iya-li-ttook.
  • go-1sI-dpast
  • 'I went'.

To make this example negative, the 1sI suffix /-li/ is replaced by the 1sN prefix /ak-/; the verb root iya is lengthened and accented to yield íiya; the suffix /-o/ is added, the final vowel of iiya is deleted; and the suffix /-kii/ is added.
Anaphoric prefixes

Reflexives are indicated with the /ili-/ prefix, and reciprocals with /itti-/:
  • Ilipísalitok.
  • li-písa-li-tok.
  • refl-see-1sI-pt
  • 'I saw myself'.

Verb suffixes

While the verbal prefixes indicate relations between the verb and its arguments, the suffixes cover a wider semantic range, including information about valence, modality, tense and evidentiality.

The following examples show modal and tense suffixes like /-aachii/ 'irrealis'(approximately equal to future), /-tok/ 'past tense', /-h/ 'default tenses':




`She runs.'




`She will run.'

There are also suffixes that show evidentiality, or the source of evidence for a statement, as in the following pair:

Nipi’ awashlihli.

Nipi’ awashli-hli

meat fry-first:hand

`She fried the meat.' (I saw/heard/smelled her do it.)

Nipi’ awashlitokasha.

Nipi’ awashli-tok-asha

meat fry-pt-guess

`She fried the meat.' (I guess)

There are also suffixes of illocutionary force which may indicate that the sentence is a question, an exclamation, or a command:




`Did she fry it?'

Chahta’ siahokii!

Chahta’ si-a-h-okii

Choctaw 1sII-be-tns-excl

`I'm Choctaw!' or `I certainly am a Choctaw!'

Verbal infixes

Choctaw verb stems have various infixes that indicate their aspect. These stem variants are traditionally referred to as `grades'. The table below shows the grades of Choctaw, along with their main usage.
Name of Grade How it is formed When it is used
n-grade infix n in the next to last (penultimate) syllable; put accent on this syllable to show that the action is durative (lasts some definite length of time)
l-grade put accent on next to last (penultimate) syllable; lengthen the vowel if the syllable is open before a few common suffixes, such as the negative /-o(k)/ and the switch-reference markers /-cha/ and /-na/
hn-grade insert a new syllable /-hV/ after the (original) next to last (penultimate) syllable. V is a nasalized copy of the vowel that precedes it. to show that the action of the verb repeats
y-grade insert -Vyy- before the next to last (penultimate) syllable to show delayed inception
g-grade formed by lengthening the penultimate vowel of the stem, accenting the antepenultimate vowel, and geminating the consonant that follows the antepenult. to show delayed inception
h-grade insert -h- after the penultimate vowel of the stem. to show sudden action

Some examples that show the grades follow:

In this example the l-grade appears because of the suffixes /-na/ 'different subject' and /-o(k)/ 'negative':

... lowat táahana falaamat akíiyokiittook.

lowa-t táaha-na falaama-t ak-íiya-o-kii-ttook

burn-ss complete-ds return-ss 1sN-go-neg-neg-dpast

`... (the school) burned down and I didn't go back.'

The g-grade and y-grade typically get translated into English as "finally VERB-ed":




`He sang.'




`He finally sang.'

The hn-grade is usually translated as 'kept on VERBing':

Ohóbana nittak pókkooli’ oshtattook.

Ohóba-na nittak pókkooli’ oshta-ttook

rain-ds day ten four-dpast

`It kept on raining for forty days.'

The h-grade is usually translated "just VERB-ed" or "VERB-ed for a short time":



`He took a quick nap.

Noun prefixes

Nouns have prefixes that show agreement with a possessor. Agreement markers from class II are used on a lexically specified closed class of nouns, which includes many (but not all) of the kinship terms and body parts. This is the class that is generally labeled inalienable.

sanoshkobo’ `my head'



chinoshkobo’ `your head'



noshkobo’ `his/her/its/their head'



sashki’ `my mother'



chishki’ `your mother'



Nouns that are not lexically specified for II agreement use the III agreement markers:

aki’ `my father'



amofi’ `my dog'



Although systems of this type are generally described with the terms alienable and inalienable, this terminology is not particularly appropriate for Choctaw, since alienability implies a semantic distinction between types of nouns. The morphological distinction between nouns taking II agreement and III agreement in Choctaw only partly coincides with the semantic notion of alienability.

Noun suffixes

Choctaw nouns can be followed by various determiner and case-marking suffixes, as in the following examples, where we see
determiners such as /-ma/ `that', /-pa/ `this', and /-akoo/ `contrast' and case-markers /-(y)at/ 'nominative' and /-(y)a/ 'accusative':

alla’ naknimat

alla’ nakni-m-at

child male-that-nom

`that boy (nominative)'

Hoshiit itti chaahamako obiniilih.

Hoshi’-at itti’ chaaha-m-ako o-biniili-h

bird-nom tree tall-that-cntr:acc superessive-sit-tns

`The bird is sitting on that tall tree.' (Not on the short one.)

The last example shows that nasalizing the last vowel of the preceding N is a common way to show the accusative case.

Word order and case marking

The simplest sentences in Choctaw consist of a verb and a tense marker, as in the following examples:




'It rained.'




'She/he/it is fat.'

'They are fat.'




'She/he/it/they saw her/him/it/them.'

As these examples show, there are no obligatory noun phrases in a Choctaw sentence, nor is there any verbal agreement that indicates a third person subject or object. There is no indication of grammatical gender, and for third person arguments there is no indication of number. (There are, however, some verbs with suppletive forms that indicate the number of a subject or object, e.g. iyah `to go (sg.)', ittiyaachih `to go (du.)', and ilhkolih `to go (pl)'.)

When there is an overt subject, it is obligatorily marked with the nominative case /-at/. Subjects precede the verb

Hoshiyat apatok.

Hoshi'-at apa-tok

bird-nom eat-pt

`The birds ate them.'

When there is an overt object, it is optionally marked with the accusative case /-a/:

Hoshiyat shoshi(-ya) apatok.

Hoshi'-at shoshi'(-a) apa-tok.

bird-nom bug-(acc) eat-pt

'The birds ate the bugs.'

The Choctaw sentence is normally verb-final, and so the head of the sentence is last.

Some other phrases in Choctaw also have their head at the end. Possessors precede the possessed noun in the Noun Phrase:

ofi' hohchifo

dog name

'the dog's name'

Choctaw has postpositional phrases with the postposition after its object:

tamaaha' bilika

town near

`near a town'


Some common Choctaw phrases (written in the "Modern" orthography):
  • Choctaw:
  • Hello!:
  • See you later!:
  • number:
  • Thank you:
  • What is your name?:
  • My name is...:
  • yes:
  • no:
  • okay:
  • I don't understand.:
  • I don't know.:
  • Do you speak Choctaw?:
  • What is that?:

Other Choctaw words:
  • Cherokee:
  • Chickasaw:
  • Seminole:
  • Creek/Muskogee:
  • today:
  • tonight:
  • tomorrow:
  • yesterday:
  • month:
  • year/2009:
  • house:
  • school:
  • cat:
  • dog:
  • cow:
  • horse:

Counting to twenty:
  • one:
  • two: toklo
  • three:
  • four:
  • five:
  • six:
  • seven:
  • eight:
  • nine:
  • ten:
  • eleven:
  • twelve:
  • thirteen:
  • fourteen:
  • fifteen:
  • sixteen:
  • seventeen:
  • eighteen:
  • nineteen:
  • twenty:

At " Native Nashville " web, there is an Online Choctaw Language Tutor, with Pronunciation Guide and four lessons: Small Talk, Animals, Food and Numbers.

External links

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