Yana language

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
The article is about a Californian language. For the Chinese city, see Yan'an.
Native to USA
Region California
Ethnicity Yana
Extinct 1916, with death of Ishi[1]
  • Yana
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ynn
Linguist list
Glottolog yana1271[2]
Pre-contact distribution of the Yana language

Yana (also Yanan) is an extinct language formerly spoken by the Yana people, who lived in north-central California between the Feather and Pit rivers in what is now the Shasta and Tehama counties.

The language perished in 1916 with the death of Ishi, who spoke the Yahi dialect. Yana is fairly well-documented (mostly by Edward Sapir) compared to other extinct American languages.

The names Yana and Yahi are derived from the word for "people" in the respective dialects.

Regional variation

There are four known dialects:

  • Northern Yana
  • Central Yana
  • Southern Yana
    • South Yana
    • Yahi


Yana is often classified as a branch of the Hokan family. Sapir suggested a grouping of Yana within a Northern Hokan sub-family with Karuk, Chimariko, Shastan, Palaihnihan, and Pomoan. Contemporary linguists generally consider Yana to be a language isolate.[3][4]


Yana is polysynthetic and agglutinative, with a subject-verb-object word order. Unlike other languages of the region, Yana had different word forms for males and females.[5]


  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Goddard, Ives (Ed.). (1996). Languages. Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Sapir, Edward. 1910. Yana Texts. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 1, no. 9. Berkeley: University Press. (Online version at the Internet Archive).
  • Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). (1978–present). Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 1–20). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. (Vols. 1–3, 16, 18–20 not yet published).


  1. Parkvall, Mikael. 2006. Limits of Language, London: Battlebridge; p. 51.
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yana". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Marianne Mithun, The Languages of Native North America (1999, Cambridge)
  4. Lyle Campbell, American Indian Languages, The Historical Linguistics of Native America (1997, Oxford)
  5. "American Indian languages: Yana Indian Language (Yahi)". http://www.native-languages.org/. Retrieved November 16, 2014. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links