Yavapai language

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Region Arizona, US
Ethnicity 1,420 Yavapai people (2004)[1]
Native speakers
100–150 (2007)[1]
  • Core Yuman
    • Pai
      • Yavapai
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog yava1252[2]

Yavapai is an Upland Yuman language, spoken by Yavapai people in central and western Arizona. There are four dialects: Kwevkepaya, Wipukpaya, Tolkepaya, and Yavepe. Linguistic studies of the Kwevkepaya (Southern), Tolkepaya (Western), Wipukepa (Verde Valley), and Yavepe (Prescott) dialects have been published (Mithun 1999:578).

Yavapai was once spoken across much of north-central and western Arizona, but is now mostly spoken on the Yavapai reservations at Fort McDowell, the Verde Valley and Prescott.

The rate of mutual comprehension between Yavapai and Havasupai–Hualapai is similar to that between Mohave and Maricopa (Biggs 1957).

Due to extensive cultural interchange, many Yavapai were once bilingual in Apache, and some Apache were bilingual in Yavapai.[3]

Unlike in Havasupai and Hualapai, postaspirated stops cannot appear in word-initial position (Shaterian 1983:215).

Poetry and stories have been published in Yavapai on several different occasions. Yavapai poems are featured in Gigyayk Vo'jka, the anthology of poetry in Yuman languages edited by Hualapai linguist Lucille Watahomigie. Yavapai stories also appear in Spirit Mountain: An Anthology of Yuman Story and Song. Both works are accompanied by English translations, and the poems in Gigyayk Vo'jka also feature a morphological analysis.

There is a published dictionary by Shaterian and an in process dictionary and grammar by Pamela Munro.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Havasupai-Walapai-Yavapai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yavapai". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Mierau, Eric (January 1963). "Concerning Yavapai-Apache Bilingualism". International Journal of American Linguistics. 29 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1086/464706. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Biggs, Bruce. 1957. Testing Intelligibility among Yuman Languages. In International Journal of American Linguistics. Vol. 23, No. 2. (April 1957), pp. 57–62. University of Chicago Press.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge University Press.
  • Shaterian, Alan William. 1983. Phonology and Dictionary of Yavapai. University of California, Berkeley.

External links