Yuki language

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RegionEel River area (formerly)
EthnicityYuki people
Extinct20th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3yuk (Yuki proper)
yuk Yuki proper
 qdw Coast Yuki
 qiq Huchnom

Yuki, also known as Ukomno'm, is an extinct language of California, formerly spoken by the Yuki people.[2] The Yuki are the original inhabitants of the Eel River area and the Round Valley Reservation of northern California. Yuki ceased to be used as an everyday language in the early 20th century and its last speaker, Arthur Anderson, died in 1983.[3] Yuki is generally thought to be distantly related to the Wappo language.


Yuki consisted of three dialects, from east to west: Yuki proper (Round Valley Yuki), Huchnom (Clear Lake Yuki) and Coast Yuki. These were at least partially mutually intelligible, but are sometimes counted as distinct languages.[4]

These languages are categorized as (Northern) Yukian within the Yuki–Wappo family, which also includes the distant Wappo language. It is thought that the ancestor of the Yukian languages diverged from Wappo around 1500 bce.[5] The three Yukian languages diverged from each other over the last one thousand years, while dialectal variations in Wappo are even more recent. The most likely catalyst or, at least, influence on the separation of Yukian and Wappo was the expansion of the Pomo, leading to pomoization of the Wappo language and physical separation between the Yuki and the Wappo tribes.[6]


Yuki had an octal (base-8) counting system, as the Yuki keep count by using the four spaces between their fingers rather than the fingers themselves.[7] Yuki also had an extensive vocabulary for the plants of Mendocino County, California.[8]


An extensive reference grammar of Yuki was published in 2016 and is based primarily on the texts and other notes recorded by Alfred L. Kroeber from Yuki speaker Ralph Moore in the first decade of the 20th century as well as elicited material recorded from other speakers later in the 20th century. This grammar also contains sketches of Huchnom and Coast Yuki based on the notes of Sydney Lamb and John Peabody Harrington, respectively.[9]


Bilabial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop Plain p k ʔ
Ejective t̪ʼ t̺ʼ
Affricate Plain t͡ʃ
Ejective t͡ʃʼ
Fricative Plain s ʃ h
Nasal Plain m n
Glottal ˀm ˀn
Approximant Plain w l j
Glottal ˀw ˀl ˀj

An alveolar stop /t/ is an apico-alveolar stop articulated as [t̺].

Front Central Back
short long short long
Close i u
Mid ə o
Open a


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Yukian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Ethnologue report for language code:yuk
  3. ^ Balodis, Uldis (2016). Yuki Grammar: With Sketches of Huchnom and Coast Yuki. University of California Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-520-29219-2.
  4. ^ Campbell 1997:132
  5. ^ McCarthy, Helen (1985). Ethnography and Prehistory of the North Coast Range, California. University of California. p. 26.
  6. ^ Jones, Terry L.; Klar, Kathryn; Archaeology, Society for California (2007). "Yukian". California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity. Rowman Altamira. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7591-0872-1.
  7. ^ Ascher, Marcia (1994), Ethnomathematics: A Multicultural View of Mathematical Ideas, Chapman & Hall, ISBN 978-0-412-98941-4
  8. ^ Chestnut, Victor King (1902). Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Balodis, Uldis (2016). "Phonetics and Phonology". Yuki Grammar with Sketches of Huchnom and Coast Yuki. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520292192.

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