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Kumeyaay language

Southern Diegueño
Native to USA, Mexico
Region California, Baja California
Native speakers
50  (1994)[1]
  • Core Yuman
    • Delta–California
      • Kumeyaay
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dih (as part of Diegueño)
Linguist list
Glottolog kumi1248[2]

Kumeyaay (Kumiai), also known as Central Diegueño, Kamia, and Campo, is the Native American language spoken by the Kumeyaay people of southern San Diego and Imperial counties in California. Hinton (1994:28) suggested a conservative estimate of 50 native speakers of Kumeyaay. A more liberal estimate (including speakers of Ipai and Tipai), supported by the results of the Census 2000, is 110 people in the US, including 15 persons under the age of 18.

Kumeyaay belongs to the Yuman language family and to the Delta–California branch of that family. Kumeyaay and its neighbors, Ipai to the north and Tipai to the south, were often considered to be dialects of a single Diegueño language, but the current consensus among linguists seems to be that at least three distinct languages are present within the dialect chain (e.g., Langdon 1990). Confusingly, Kumeyaay is commonly used as a designation both for the central language of this family and for the Ipai-Kumeyaay-Tipai people as a whole. Tipai is also commonly used as a collective designation for speakers of both Kumeyaay and Tipai proper.


  • Documentation 1
  • References 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • External links 4


In 1999, published documentation for the Kumeyaay language appeared to be limited to a few texts.[3]

As of May 2014, online Kumeyaay language lessons are available.[4] A "dictionary of all five dialects of Kumeyaay spoken in Baja California" is in preparation. Kumeyaay language stories are recorded at the Kumeyaay museum in Tecate.[5]


  1. ^ Hinton 1994
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kumiai". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ (cf. Mithun 1999:578)
  4. ^ Hinton, Leanne. "Kumeyaay 1-10. Hablamos Tipay en el dialecto de Nejí (Xa'a Wa) BCN". Language Acquisition Resource Center, San Diego State. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  5. ^ Jill Replogle (Director) (2014-06-10). "Native Speakers And Linguists Fight To Keep Kumeyaay Language Alive". KNPR. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  • Leanne Hinton. 1994. Flutes of Fire: Essays on California Indian Languages. Heyday Books, Berkeley, California.
  • Langdon, Margaret. 1990. "Diegueño: how many languages?" In Proceedings of the 1990 Hokan–Penutian Languages Workshop, edited by James E. Redden, pp. 184–190. University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge University Press.


  • Miller, Amy (2008). Barona inter-tribal dictionary: 'Iipay aa Tiipay aa Uumall. Lakeside, CA: Barona Museum Press.  
  • Couro, Ted; Christina Hutcheson (1973). Dictionary of Mesa Grande Diegueño; 'Iipay Aa-English/English-'Iipay Aa. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  • Couro, Ted; Margaret Langdon (1975). Let's talk 'Iipay Aa : an introduction to the Mesa Grande Diegueño language. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  • Miller, Amy (2001). A grammar of Jamul Tiipay / Amy Miller. Mouton grammar library. Hawthorne, N.Y: Mouton de Gruyter.  
  • Langdon, Margaret (1970). A grammar of Diegueño; the Mesa Grande dialect.. Berkeley: University of California Press. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  • Gorbet, Larry Paul (1976). A grammar of diegueño nominals. New York: Garland Publishing. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 

External links

  • Richard L. Carrico (2012-05-21). "BOOKS: Can language preservation battle be won?". North County Times. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  • Richard Carrico (2010). "Land/History/Language". Kumeyaay Placenames Project. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
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