The Dakota language is the langauge of the Dakota people, the original inhabitants of Minnesota and the surrounding norhtern great plains / woodlands. This page is still under construction; but soon this top section will have links to primary sources, including texts, stories, and news papers in Dakota.

This second section will provide links for a variety of great secondary sources for learning about the Dakota language, including the dictionaries produced by the missionaries, Ella Deloria and Franz Boas's Grammar, as well as modern texts and linguistic analayses.

Dakhóta Iápi Wóophe Kiŋ: Dakota Grammar Book

Below is the beginnings of a new Dakota grammar that I have been writing (very slowly) over the years. It is freely available for download here chapter-by-chapter, and will be updated and expanded continuously. I appreciate any feedback, suggestions or typos!

Phonology

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a e i o u

b p ph p'

Letters and Sounds

This chapter covers the orthography used for the Dakota language throughout this text (a phonemic orthography which is also in use for the Lakota dialect) and its pronounciation.

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pta kte špu
ȟ'aŋ k'iŋ č'o
ded čhaš

Syllables

Not only does each language have its own collection of sounds, but the rules on how those sounds can be grouped together is itself very language dependent (for example; which of the following could be a new word in English? Ktok or Chale?) Here we discuss the rules which are particular to Dakota syllables.

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k'u de wa
špaŋyé máni
awáŋyaŋka

Words

As syllables are built from sounds, so words are built from syllables. Dakota has a complex word-formation system, often building long descriptive words out of simpler parts. This chapter introduces the very beginnings of this.

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odé owáde
ȟbá uŋȟbápi
wičhúŋkodepi

Stress

The rules of where to place stress in a word or phrase are highly language dependent, and are also crucial to sounding natural. Even moreso, stress can be important to the meaning of a phrase (consider the sentence "I will record you a record of my favorite band" and switch the stress on the two words spelled 'record'). Here we discuss stress in Dakota.

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iyáye kte
iyáyapi kta
yatkáŋ yatké

A/E Sound Change

There is a process in Dakota which sometimes changes an 'a' at the end of a word to an 'e' (similar to in how sometimes a vowel in a verb can change depending on the tense: swim/swam/swum). This chapter discusses the basic rules governing this ablaut process.

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tókhiya wak'ú
héčhiya nič'ú
déčhiya uŋk'ú

K/C Sound Change

Less commonly, Dakota has an additional process which converts k sounds to č sounds to 'flow better' with the proceeding vowel.

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wašté thothó
waštéšte tho
sápa sabsápa

Reduplication

Reduplication is a process which takes a word and doubles it (or doubles a portion of it). This is used to convey certain types of plurality, and interacts with all of the sound-changes already mentioned above.

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waŋúŋyaŋkapi
waŋmáyadake
waŋwíčhabdake

Other Sound Changes

This final chapter of Part I adresses other sound changes not covered above, mostly pertaning to alternations which occur when speaking quickly.

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Cores

Part II of this book covers the heart of Dakota grammar - a type of word I am calling a 'core' here. These are the Dakota analog of verbs in English (though I have not borrowed the name as there are many differences as well). Cores describe actions and states of being, and after proper conjugation are often the only word in a Dakota sentence.

osní wóte kaŋ
iwáŋǧe háŋske
iyáye kiyúte

Cores: Dakota "Verbs"

This is a breif introduction to thinking about syntax and grammar in a way that is productive for learning Dakota.

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wa ya pi
ma ni wičhá
čhi wičhúŋ

Person Markers

Dakota verbs are marked for their participants: for example the verb 'saw' in the sentence 'you saw me' is marked for both 'you' and 'me' in Dakota. This chapter starts the discussion of these person markers, which continues through the remainder of the book.

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ǧi kaŋ sápA
khátA ša ȟba
ištá-ǧuŋǧÁ

Stative Cores

Stative cores express a state of being, and often take the role of predicate adjectives (for example: 'I am cold') in English, or even nouns ('You are a man.').

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máni yatké
maǧážu yúte
kiŋyé yuȟíče

Active Cores

Active cores express an activity or a means of changing state. These correspond to transitive and intransitive verbs in English.

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éthi éthipi
éwathi éyathi
éuŋthipi

WA-Cores

All Dakota cores are marked for the partricipants involved in the action / state described; however exactly how this marking occurs differs from verb to verb. There are three main classes, of core here; which for simplicity I have named after how they mark for first person, "I". This chapter discusses the largest class, the wa- cores.

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bdatké datké
yatké yatkáŋpi
uŋyátkaŋpi

BD-Cores

The second largest class of cores are the bd-cores, whose conjugation rules are discussed here.

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maŋké naŋké
yaŋké yaŋkápi
uŋyaŋkapi

M-Cores

There is a small third class of cores, the M-cores, where first persion is marked by appending just an 'm'.

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eyé wóte
iyáye tháwa
okíyake

Exceptions

Like anything in language, there are exeptions to the above. While generally the number of exceptions is quite low in Dakota; many of the most frequent words fall into this category and so are described here.

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