Chochenyo language

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Native toUnited States (California)
EthnicityChochenyo people
Extinct1934, with the death of José Guzmán[1]
Revivalearly 2000s
Language codes
ISO 639-3(included in cst)

Chochenyo (also called Chocheño, Northern Ohlone and East Bay Costanoan) is the spoken language of the Chochenyo people. Chochenyo is one of the Ohlone languages in the Utian family.

Linguistically, Chochenyo, Tamyen and Ramaytush are thought to have been dialects of a single language. The speech of the last two native speakers of Chochenyo was documented in the 1920s in the unpublished fieldnotes of the Bureau of American Ethnology linguist John Peabody Harrington. The final native speaker of the language was José Guzmán who died in 1934 in Niles, California.

Vincent Medina presents in Chochenyo at the San Francisco Public Library

The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, which (as of 2007)[3] is petitioning for U.S. federal recognition, has made efforts to revive the language. As of 2004, "the Chochenyo database being developed by the tribe ... [contained] from 1,000 to 2,000 basic words."[4][1] By 2009, many students were able to carry on conversations in the Chochenyo language. Through both successful word formation, as well as extending documented words, the Chochenyo dictionary has grown significantly throughout the early 21st Century.[5] During the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra on September 23, 2015, the first reading at Mass was read in Chochenyo by Vincent Medina, a Muwekma Ohlone tribal member.



Labial Dental/
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
hard soft
Nasal m m n n nY
Plosive p p t t ʈ k k ʔ '
Affricate ts ts č
Fricative s s ʃ š x x h h
Approximant w w l l j y
Flap ɾ r
Front Back
Close i   u  
Close-mid o  
Open-mid ɛ  
Open ɑ

The vowels can be long or short. Prolongation is shown by repeating the vowel.

  • oo is pronounced /oː/, not /uː/


  1. ^ a b "California magazine". Apr 4, 2008. Archived from the original on April 4, 2008. Retrieved Dec 18, 2019.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "East Bay [Costanoan]". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ron Russell (2007-03-28). "The Little Tribe That Could. As descendants of San Francisco's aboriginal people, the Muwekma Ohlone Indian tribe seldom gets much respect. But that could be about to change". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  4. ^ Kathleen Maclay (2004-06-04). "06.04.2004 - Conferences focus on saving native languages". UC Berkeley News. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  5. ^ "Ethnologue report for language code: cst". Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  6. ^ a b Harrington, John Peabody. "Chochenyo Linguistics Notes". Smithsonian Institution.

External links[edit]