Waikuri language

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Region Baja California
Ethnicity Guaycura
Extinct before 1800
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Linguist list
qjg Guaicura (Waikura, Waykuri)
  qea Waicuri (Waicuru)
  qny Cora (Huchití)
Glottolog guai1237  (Guaicurian)[1]
monq1236  (Monqui)[2]
The location of Guaycura. Monqui and Pericú are essentially unattested; Cochimí, which is still spoken, is a Yuman language.

Waikuri (Guaycura, Waicura) is an extinct language of southern Baja California spoken by the Waikuri or Guaycura people. The Jesuit priest Baegert documented words, sentences and texts in the language between 1751 and 1768.

Waikuri may be, along with the Yukian and Chumashan languages and other languages of southern Baja such as Pericú, among the oldest languages established in California, before the arrival of speakers of Penutian, Uto-Aztecan, and perhaps even Hokan languages. All are spoken in areas with long-established populations of a distinct physical type.[3]


Baegert's data is analyzed by Raoul Zamponi (2004). On existing evidence, Guaycura appears to be unrelated to the Yuman languages to its north. Some linguists have suggested that it belonged to the widely scattered Hokan phylum of California and Mexico (Gursky 1966; Swadesh 1967); however, the evidence for this seems inconclusive (Laylander 1997; Zamponi 2004; Mixco 2006). William C. Massey (1949) suggested a connection with Pericú, but the latter is too meagerly attested to support a meaningful comparison. Other languages of southern Baja are essentially undocumented, though people have speculated from non-linguistic sources that Monqui (Monquí-Didiú), spoken in a small region around Loreto, may have been a 'Guaicurian' language, as perhaps was Huchití (Uchití), though that may have actually been a variety of Guaycura itself (Golla 2007).

The internal classification of Gauicurian (Waikurian) languages is uncertain. Massey (1949), cited in Campbell (1997:169), gives this tentative classification based on similarity judgments given by colonial-era sources, rather than actual linguistic data.

Gauicurian (Waikurian)
  • Guaicura branch
    • Gauocura (Waikuri)
    • Callejue
  • Huchiti branch
    • Cora
    • Huchiti
    • Aripe
    • Periúe
  • Pericú branch
    • Pericú
    • Isleño

However, Laylander (1997) and Zamponi (2004) conclude that Waikuri and Pericú are unrelated.


Waikuri had four vowels, a e i u. We don't know if there was vowel length. Consonants were voiceless stops p t č k and maybe glottal stop; voiceless b d, nasal m n ny, flap r, trill rr, and approximants w y.


The little we know of Guaycura grammar was provided by Francisco Pimentel, who analyzed a few verbs and phrases. Guaicura was a polysyllabic language that involved a lot of compounding. For example, 'sky' is tekerakadatemba, from tekaraka (arched) and datemba (earth).

Beagert and Pimentel agree that the plural is formed with a suffix -ma. However, Pimentel also notes a prefix k- with the 'same' function. For example, kanai 'women', from anai 'woman'. According to Pimentel, the negation in -ra of an adjective resulted in its opposite, so from ataka 'good' is derived atakara 'bad'.

Pronouns were as follows (Golla 2011):

Subject Object Inalienable
I be my be- ~ m- bekún
thou e’i thee e’i ? thy e- ekún
s/he  ? his/her ti- ~ t-
we katé us kepe our kepe- kepekún
you peté  ?
they  ? their kikún


The Pater Noster is recorded in Guaycura, with a literal gloss by Pimentel (1874: cap. XXV).

Padre Nuestro
Kepe-dare tekerekadatemba daï, ei-ri akatuike pu-me, tschakarrake pu-me ti tschie.
Padre nuestro (que en el) cielo estás, te reconocemos todos (los que) existimos (y te) alaban todos (los que) somos hombres y.
Ecun gracia ri atume cate tekerekedatemba tschie. Ei-ri jebarrakeme ti
(Y por) tu gracia  ? tengamos nosotros (el) cielo (y). Te obedeceremos (los) hombres
pu jaupe datemba pae ei jebarrakere aëna kea. Kepekun bue
todos aquí (en la) tierra como a ti obedientes arriba siendo. Nuestra comida
kepe ken jatupe untairi. Kate kuitscharrake tei tschie kepecun atakamara,
(a) nos da este día. (Y a) nos perdona (y) nuestro malo (pecado),
pae kuitscharrakere cate tschie cavape atacamara kepetujake. Cate tikakamba tei
como perdonamos nosotros también (a) los (que) mal (nos) hacen. (A) nos ayuda
tschie cuvume ra cate atukiara. Kepe kakunja pe atacara
y (no) querremos no nosotros algo malo. (Y a) nos protege de mal


  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Guaicurian". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Monqui". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Golla, Victor. (2011). California Indian Languages. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-5202-6667-4
  • Golla, Victor. 2007. Atlas of the World's Languages.
  • Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian Languages.
  • Gursky, Karl-Heinz. 1966. "On the historical position of Waicuri". International Journal of American Linguistics 32:41-45.[1]
  • Laylander, Don. 1997. "The linguistic prehistory of Baja California". In Contributions to the Linguistic Prehistory of Central and Baja California, edited by Gary S. Breschini and Trudy Haversat, pp. 1–94. Coyote Press, Salinas, California.
  • Massey, William C. 1949. "Tribes and languages of Baja California". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 5:272-307.
  • Mixco, Mauricio J. 2006. "The indigenous languages". In The Prehistory of Baja California: Advances in the Archaeology of the Forgotten Peninsula, edited by Don Laylander and Jerry D. Moore, pp. 24–41. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
  • Swadesh, Morris. 1967. "Lexicostatistical Classification". in Linguistics, edited by Norman A. McQuown, pp. 79–115. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 5, Robert Wauchope, general editor. University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • Zamponi, Raoul. 2004. "Fragments of Waikuri (Baja California)". Anthropological Linguistics 46:156-193.