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Lakota is a Siouan language spoken by the Lakota people, who are members of the Sioux tribes. It is one of three Sioux dialects, the others being Dakota and Nakota (Powers, 2009). The phrase Sioux was derived from the word Nadowe Su, which means "Little Rattle," referring to the rattling sound made by snakes before they strike. Later, the name Nadowe was abandoned, and French trappers and traders renamed Su Sioux. Sioux is spoken by over 30,000 people in the United States and Canada, making it the fifth most spoken native language in the nation. Lakota is one of the three major regional varieties comprising of Western Dakota and Eastern Dakota. Western Dakota also known as Yankton-Yanktonai is at the middle of Eastern Dakota and Lakota. Lexically, Western Dakota is nearer to Lakota making them to be both more equally comprehensible to each other.
Assiniboine as well as Stoney languages are closely related to Sioux semantic but Lakota and Dakota express difficulty in comprehending (Irvine & Gal, 2008). The dialects of the Sioux language developed as a result of the Sioux people spreading across the expansive plains in North America. Nakota dialect is not commonly used nowadays leaving the other two as the main varieties. From the three varieties emerge the Seven Council Fires also popularly known as the Oceti Sakowin.
The history of Lakota people dates back to the 10th century with its speakers originating from the lower parts of the Mississippi river. They later migrated to Ohio Valley and in the mid-17th century, they were forced to move to the Great Plains due to conflicts the Cree and Anishnaabe peoples (Powers, 2009). In 1660, French explorers estimated the population of the Sioux to be a total of 28,000 people. The Lakota dialect was estimated to be 8,500 in the year 1805 and grew fast to a population of 16,110 people in the late 1800s.
The branch of the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota tribe split into two major sections after 1720. The Saone spread to the area of Lake Traverse on the Minnesota border of the South Dakota-North Dakota while Oglala and Brule occupied the valley of James River (Irvine & Gal, 2008). Nonetheless, by the year 1750, Saone had moved to the eastern part of Missouri River and were followed by the rest some few years later. The Lakota were however long prevented from crossing Missouri by Hidasta, Arikara and Mandan villages but later crossed it after a significant epidemic of smallpox destroyed more than half of these tribes between 1722 and 1780. The United States came into contact with the Lakota during the Expedition of Lewis and Clerk between 1804 and 1806. Conflict between Lakota and other tribes was significant up to mid-1800s. Lakota and some other bands could attack settlers and emigrants which caused pressure of the public on the U.S. Army forcing them to discipline those who were hostile.
Series of wars between the Lakota bands and the U.S. Army continued causing many deaths among its people. Although the Lakota initially defeated the Army, they were later defeated in 1877 forcing them to sign a treaty that ceded Black Hills to US. Since then, they have been confined into Western South reservations of Dakota (Irvine & Gal, 2008). Their language was put on paper in 1840 by missionaries and it has since then evolved. The Language originating from the creation of the tribe is now almost forgotten. The reason as to why the language is dying is because the Lakota speaker is averaged to be 65 and they are dying without replacing new generations (Powers, 2009). Surveys shows that transmission of the language to children stopped in mid-1950s. In addition, there are only 2,000 people who are first-language Lakota speakers. This number is barely 2% of the total population of Lakota.
Khosian (Click) Language.
Khoisan is a collective name for two distinct groups of people, the Khoi Khoi and the San (Güldemann & Stoneking, 2008). The two groups share a physical and more similar linguistic elements well defined from the majority Bantus. Archaeologically, the Khoikhoi were originally pastoralists while the San were hunters and gatherers. The Khoikhoi were greatly massacred by the Germans from 1904 to 1907 eradicating nearly half of the population. During that period, more than 10,000 people were killed. San were initially Botswana inhabitants and the term is derogatory having been given to them by the Khoikhoi people. They both, together with other hunters and herders represented in a number of ethnic groups, speak an exclusive click language.
The population is indigenous in Namibia and may have been the majority on earth over 150,000 years ago but their population reduced with time. Khoisan languages are not genealogically associated with or belong to any language family in Africa. All of them except two are considered to be native to southern part of Africa. Before the expansion of the Bantus, these languages were spoken widely across eastern and southern Africa and are now restricted to Tanzanian Rift Valley and the Kalahari Desert (Fage, 2013).
Although most Khoisan Languages are becoming extinct and have no written records, they are considered to have the greatest inventories of phonemic constant in the whole world (Fage, 2013). The languages are mainly spoken in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia. Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe speak the languages to a lesser extent. Outside the topographical location of the Khoisan languages are the Sandawe and the Hadza in Tanzania who speak the dialect. Hadza has about 800 utterers in Tanzania but is no longer considered as a Khoisan language and the two groups are unrelated. Sandawe on the other hand has a rough calculation of 40,000 people who speak it in Tanzania. Additional families of Khoisan languages are the Khoe, Tuu and Kx’a.
Khoe is both the most abundant and assorted family of the Khoisan languages. It has seven languages and more than 250,000 speakers. The language is composed of two main dialects, Haillom and the Aekhoe spoken by Nama tribe and Damara tribe respectively. They principally live in Namibia with 31 consonants in their language. Haillom language appears in most references of Khoisan with only 18,000 speakers and they are branded Saa by Nama thus the basis of the term San. Tuu comprises of two language collections which are correlated to each other and are typologically more analogous to Kx’a composed of Amkoe and Kung ((Güldemann & Stoneking, 2008).).
A comparison between the Bantus and the Khoisan shows that click consonants are found in both languages such as Xhosa and Zulu (Dimmendaal, 2008). The Bantus borrowed the clicks from the Khoisan during their expansion. Outside Khoisan and Bantu Families are found clicks in Cushitic languages. An example is Dahalo spoken by approximately 400 people in Kenya with about 40 lexical terms with clicks who are considered to have shifted from a Khoisan language taking a few words into Cushitic language. Notably, there exists a thrilling distinction between the Khoisan Languages despite their conjoint clicks swerving significantly from each other.
Dimmendaal, G. J. (2008). Language ecology and linguistic diversity on the African continent. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2(5), 840-858.
Fage, J. (2013). A history of Africa. Routledge.
Güldemann, T., & Stoneking, M. (2008). A historical appraisal of clicks: a linguistic and genetic population perspective. Annual Review of Anthropology, 37, 93-109.
Irvine, J. T., & Gal, S. (2009). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. Linguistic anthropology: A reader, 402-434.
Powers, W. (2009). Saving Lakota: Commentary on language revitalization. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 33(4), 139-149.
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