|Native to||United States, with some speakers in Canada|
|Region||Primarily North Dakota and South Dakota, but also northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota; southern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan|
Santee, Sisseton, Yankton, Yanktonai
Dakota (Dakhótiyapi, Dak?ótiyapi), also referred to as Dakhota, is a Siouan language spoken by the Dakota people of the Sioux tribes. Dakota is closely related to and mutually intelligible with the Lakota language. It is critically endangered, with only around 290 fluent speakers left out of an ethnic population of almost 20,000.
Dakota, similar to many Native American languages, is a mainly polysynthetic language, meaning that different morphemes in the form of affixes can be combined to form a single word. Nouns in Dakota can be broken down into two classes, primitive and derivative. Primitive nouns are nouns whose origin cannot be deduced from any other word (for example make or earth, peta or fire, and ate or father), while derivative nouns are nouns that are formed in various ways from words of other grammatical categories. Primitive nouns stand on their own and are separate from other words. Derivative nouns, on the other hand, are formed by the addition of affixes to words in other grammatical categories, such as verbs, adjectives, and other nouns.
Verbs in Dakota can appropriate, through agglutination and synthesis, many of the pronominal, prepositional, and adverbial or modal affixes of the language. There are many verbal roots, all of which are only used once certain causative prefixes are added, forming participles. Like in English, Dakota verbs also have three persons, the first, the second, and the third. Person is indicated through the addition (first and second person) or subtraction (third person, the verb is used in its simplest form) of personal pronoun affixes. There are two forms of tense in the language, the aorist (sometimes called the indefinite) and the future. In order to express the future tense, the words kta or kte are placed after the verb, much in contrast to expressing the aorist tense, which requires no marking, but is instead derived from the context of what is being said.
In order to show possession in Dakota, a possessive pronoun must be prefixed onto whichever noun is being possessed. Two forms of possessive nouns occur, the natural class and the artificial or alienable class. Natural class pronouns express possession that cannot be alienated, and when prefixed to a noun, signifies the different parts of one's self. For example, the possessive natural article pronoun mi-, which means "my," can be added to nouns such as "eye," in miista, or "words," in mioie. Meanwhile, artificial possessive pronouns are used to signify property and possessions that can be transferred or traded. For example, the artificial pronoun ta- or ti-, which is equivalent to the singular her or him, can be prefixed onto nouns such as "bow," in tinazipe, and "friend," in takodaku.
Dakota is mainly a subject-object-verb (SOV) language, where nouns, whether they are the subject or object, always come before the verb. And when two nouns are used in the same clause, where one is the subject and the other is the object, the subject is most usually placed first. Verbs are also usually placed after adjectives that are used to qualify either the subject or the object and adverbs that qualify the verb. When additional words are used within a clause that are not either nouns or verbs, the nouns, both subject and object, are always placed at the beginning of the clause.
Dakota has two major dialects with two sub-dialects each (and minor variants, too):
The two dialects differ phonologically, grammatically, and to a large extent, also lexically. They are mutually intelligible to a high extent, although Western Dakota is lexically closer to the Lakota language with which it has higher mutual intelligibility.
For a comparative table of the various writing systems conceived over time for the Sioux languages, cf. the specific section of the article Sioux language.
Dakota has five oral vowels, /a e i o u/, and three nasal vowels, /ã ? ?/.
|Nasal||m [m]||n [n]|
|voiceless||p [p]||t [t]||? [t?]||k [k]||' [?]|
|ejective||p' [p']||t' [t']||?' [t?']||k' [k']|
|voiced||b [b]||d [d]||g [?]|
|Fricative||voiceless||s [s]||? [?]||? [?]|
|ejective||s' [s']||?' [?']||?' [?']|
|voiced||z [z]||? [?]||? [?]|
|Approximant||w [w]||y [j]||h [h]|
In respect to phonology Eastern and Western Dakota differ particularly in consonant clusters. The table below gives the possible consonant clusters and shows the differences between the dialects:
|Dakota consonant clusters|
The two dialects also differ in the diminutive suffix (-da? in Santee, and -na in Yankton-Yanktonai and in Sisseton) and in a number of other phonetic issues that are harder to categorize. The following table gives examples of words that differ in their phonology.
|Eastern Dakota||Western Dakota||gloss|
|nína||nína||nína / dína||very|
|hdá||kdá||gdá||to go back|
There are also numerous lexical differences between the two Dakota dialects as well as between the sub-dialects. Yankton-Yanktonai is in fact lexically closer to the Lakota language than it is to Santee-Sisseton. The following table gives some examples:
|Northern Lakota||Southern Lakota|
|knife||isá? / mína||mína||míla|
Yankton-Yanktonai has the same three ablaut grades as Lakota (a, e, i?), while in Santee-Sisseton there are only two (a, e). This significantly impacts word forms, especially in fast speech and it is another reason why Yankton-Yanktonai has better mutual intelligibility with Lakota than with Santee-Sisseton.
|English gloss||to go ||I shall go||to go back ||he/she/it will go back|
|santee-sisseton||yá||bdé kte||hdá||hdé kte|
|yankton-yanktonai||yá||mní? kte||kdá/gdá||kní?/gní? kte|
|lakota||yá||mní? kte||glá||gní? kte|
There are other grammatical differences between the dialects.
A Dakota 1 app was previously available for iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices. The Association on American Indian Affairs website offers an extensive selection of Dakotah learning resources, including CDs, DVDs, flashcards, and software.
A Level 1 Speak Dakota! textbook is available from the Dakhóta Iápi Okhódaki?hiye. Developed by Dakota language speakers, teachers, and linguists, the textbook is the first fully illustrated Dakota language textbook that is linguistically and pedagogically consistent. Dakota language learning materials are also available on their website.