Hi guys! Happy Wednesday! So on my (slightly behind) A-Z Challenge we’re just approaching the letter H, which in this case, stands for the Hupa language!

Hupa | A-Z of Endangered Languages | 学习Sprachen

The Hupa language (or Na:tinixwe Mixine:whe’) is an Athabaskan language which is spoken in Northwestern California by approximately 12 people (Moseley, 2010). Like many other Native American languages, the low number of speakers is due to the boarding schools that many young Native Americans were sent to, where they were forbidden from speaking – and punished for using – their native tongue. This had a drastic effect on the Hupa language, especially considering that in pre-contact times, there were approximately 1,000 ethnic Hupa, who presumably all spoke the language, as well as 1,000 speakers of Chilula and Whilkut, which are considered to be dialects of Hupa (The Regents of the University of California, 2016).

Despite this decline, there are being great efforts being made to revitalise the language, including classes in primary and high schools – with the hope of having full-immersion classes in the future (Reynolds, 2016) – as well as researchers who are documenting the language, along with the help of the remaining native speakers; in particular, Verdena Parker, who grew up speaking the language (Day, 2015).

Whether these efforts will have a great impact on the state of the Hupa language is something that will only be seen with time; but it is clear that the revitalisation of the language is important to the Hupa people, so while it may not develop outside of their ethnic group, it will have a significant impact within it.


Day, J., 2015. NSF grant to UCD will help preserve Hupa language. Available at: http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/ucd/nsf-grant-to-ucd-will-help-preserve-hupa-language/. [Accessed 13 April 2016].

Moseley, C., ed., 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Online version: http://www.unesco.org/culture/en/endangeredlanguages/atlas.

Reynolds, R., 2016. Hupa: A language that refuses to die. Al Jazeera Media Network. Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/02/hupa-language-refuses-die-160220070112908.html. [Accessed 13 April 2016].

The Regents of the University of California, 2016. Hupa – Survey of California and Other Indian Languages. Available from: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~survey/languages/hupa.php. [Accessed 13 April 2016].

Further Reading

OPB.org: At Home With a Language’s Last Native Speaker (Dave Miller and Dave Blanchard, 2015).

Languages of the World: Revitalization of the Hupa Language (Asya Pereltsvaig, 2011).

YouTube – DrPfeiffer: Hupa story Little Brother

Resources for Learning

Hupa Online Dictionary and Texts

Hupa Language Dictionary [PDF]

native-languages.org: Hupa (Hoopa) Language

Danny Ammon’s Hupa Language Website

And here’s the list of languages I’ll be covering in the next week of posts:

Thursday 14th April: Inuinnaqtun
Friday 15th April: Jiongnai
Saturday 16th April: Karelian
Sunday 17th April: Lengilu
Monday 18th April: Mara
Tuesday 19th April: Nataoran


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