Language Preservation

The Caddo language is a member of the Caddoan language family. It is linguistically related to the Pawnee, Arikara, Wichita, and Keechi languages. Each band of the Caddo had a distinct dialect, but these dialects could generally be understood by all speakers of the Caddo language. The differences in the dialects are both on the level of pronunciation and vocabulary. The two most commonly used dialects today are Hasinai and Hainai.

The following words are taken from a Caddo dictionary compiled by Randlett Edmonds, from language lessons held in Gracemont with Clara Longhat Brown and Randlett Edmonds, and from the participants in the current Caddo Language Project. Keep in mind that different speakers may speak different dialects and have different ways to pronounce words and that listeners may transcribe words in different ways.

Useful words and phrases:

  • Yes = ah-hay
  • No = hunnah
  • Quit, don’t = cha-ah
  • Wait (up) = cha-tee
  • Pay attention = da-wee-cha-sun
  • Come here = da-yah
  • You are out of your mind = Coo-sah-oh-na-ah-nit
  • You smell bad = ha-bah-ha-ca-yah-ha-sah
  • I don’t know = nukkah

Colors:

  • Black = ha deek ko
  • Blue = bahnushahah
  • Brown = hakuunu?
  • Green = ba-noo-sha
  • Purple = dakank’uh
  • Red = hatinu?
  • White = hakaayu?
  • Yellow, Orange = hak’ay?k’u?

Animals:

  • Alligator = koo-hooh
  • Bird = banit
  • Bumblebee = daakuh [Anadarko = Na Daakuh, Bumblebee Place]
  • Cat = mee yu
  • Cow = wahk us
  • Deer = da
  • Dog = deet see
  • Fish = batah
  • Hound dog (long ears) = bish-wah-she
  • Raccoon = ut
  • Skunk = wehit
  • Toad = e chunt
  • Turkey = naw?
  • Turtle = ch eye yah
  • Worm = koo-ooh

Foods:

  • Beans = dabas
  • Bread = dush kut [fry bread = dushkut na hasaayu? or dushkut kayust’u]
  • Corn = kisi?
  • Grapes = kee-swee
  • Meat dish = ha-bush-coo
  • Onion = dahaw
  • Pumpkin = ka-kee-kus-nee
  • Salt = wid ish
  • Sugar = ha-bit-tso

Numbers:

  • 1 = wist see
  • 2 = bit
  • 3 = dah hoe
  • 4 = hee weh
  • 5 = dee sik uhn
  • 6 = dun kee
  • 7 = bit sik kah
  • 8 = dah hoe sik kah
  • 9 = hee wee sik kah
  • 10 = bi nay ah

Caddo to English Dictionary created by Michael Sheyahshe.

 

The Caddo Heritage Museum gift shop sells a set of Caddo language CDs and a phrase book. This material was compiled by Kiwat Hasinai Foundation, an organization that previously worked with members of the Caddo Nation to preserve and document the language.

The Museum has extensive information on the Caddo language available in its archives, as well as copies of the recently produced Caddo language coloring book. The coloring book was prepared by the Education Department and those involved in the Caddo Language Project. The material in the archives is available to anyone who wishes to visit the Museum. The coloring book is available to Caddo people and can be picked up at the tribal complex.

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