Chitimacha (Bibliography)

About this bibliography

A bibliography of resources relating to the Chitimacha language. The list is divided into primary and secondary materials. It includes all known archival materials, and any published materials which relate to the linguistic study of the language. It does not include all tertiary sources or reference works, such as the Ethnologue or Marianne Mithun’s The Languages of Native North America, unless the work adds some particular new piece of scholarship or interpretation. When in doubt as to whether a source is primary or secondary, I have erred on the side of caution and placed it as a secondary source. There were very few original sources of data on the language, but many copies disseminated and used by different researchers or collectors. Also included below are a list of alternate spellings of ‘Chitimacha’, for use in searching archives, and some biographical notes on the different authors listed in the bibliography. Karen Booker’s (1991) Languages of the Southeast: An Annotated Bibliography is the source for many of the published materials and their annotations.

Alternate spellings of Chitimacha

  • Chitimacha
  • Chatimacha
  • Shetimasha
  • Chetimacha
  • Shetimacha

Bibliography on the Chitimacha Language

Primary Sources

Dormon, Caroline. nd. Chitimacha legend after 1911, MS 4907, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Duralde, Martin. 1802. Vocabulaire de la langue des Chatimachas et Croyance des Chetimachas, American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Indian Vocabulary Collection, Mss.497.V85.11, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

  • Duralde’s copy of the vocabulary is dated April 23, 1802. Vater (1821) includes a note written by Duralde on the original manscript, where Duralde notes (in French) that he has replaced the French diphthongs with Spanish vowels, and confirms that he did not collect the vocabulary himself. This is the earliest known source on the Chitimacha language.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1881. Vocabulary December 1881, MS 2013, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • 32 pages. This manuscript appears to contain vocabulary from both Choctaw and Chitimacha. It is unclear whether this data overlaps with data in other sources.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1881-1882. Shetimasha; Words and Sentences collected December 1881 and January 1882…; To Accompany texts of the same language (MS 288), MS 349-a, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • Consists of approximately 1,500 handwritten slips in Chitimacha-English, alphabetically arranged by Chitimacha. These are probably Gatschet’s primary field notes on the language. A more recent typed copy in English-Chitimacha exists as NAA MS 349-b.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1881-1882. Texts of the Shetimacha Language, spoken in Charenton, St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana December 1881 and January 1882, MS 288-a, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • 13 pages. Marked with a note by Gatschet on the title page: “To accompany his Dictionary of the Same Language,” referring to NAA MS 349. Swanton later had a copy of these texts (NAA MS 288-a and 288-b), where he updated the orthography and some of Gatschet’s glosses. Whether these texts are original field notes or edited versions of earlier notes remains to be seen.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1883? A. S. Gatschet Vocabularies and Other Linguistic Notes ca. 1881-1886, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 1449, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • 253 handwritten pages. Page 85 of this manuscript contains a list of 8 Chitimacha words (under ‘Shetimasha’), probably field notes, translated into French. Page 66 includes a small clipping of a news article dated February 23, 1883. Though it appears at the end of a separate Inuit vocabulary list, the clipping does suggest a date of 1883 for the Chitimacha material as well.

Swadesh, Morris. 1930-1934. Field notes on Chitimacha, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G6.3, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1934. Stories in Chitimacha, Mss.Rec.7, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris and Mary R. Haas. 1934. Alibamu-Koasati and Creek vocabulary and texts, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G8b.1, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swanton, John Reed. 1908-1931. Chitimacha Ethnographic and Kinship Notes 1908-1931, MS 4906, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1908-1931. Chitimacha stories 1908-1931, MS 4199, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1908-1931. Chitimacha vocabulary and notes 1908-1931, MS 4139, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1930. Chitimacha vocabulary, texts and notes 1930, MS 4963, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. nd. Chitimacha vocabulary, ethnographic notes and myths, and extracts from American State Papers, Documents in Relation to Public Lands, March 4, 1789 to June 15, 1834, MS 4204, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Secondary Sources

Bartlett, John Russell. 1848. Chitimacha and Attacapa vocabularies and notes. Miscellaneous vocabularies of 32 different tribes, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 1627, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Bartlett, John Russell. nd. Thirty numerals in Several Indian Languages, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 1200, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Booker, Karen M. 1982. Number suppletion in North American Indian languages. Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics 7.

  • A typology of suppletive verbs in North American languages, including Chitimacha. Booker finds that certain verbs tend to be suppletive, especially verbs meaning ‘kill’ or ‘die’, verbs of location such as ‘be standing’, or verbs of motion. The so-called ‘Gulf’ languages, which include the isolates Chitimacha, Atakapa, and Tunica, pattern very closely to the Muskogean languages.

Campbell, Lyle and Marianne Mithun. 1979. The Languages of Native America: Historical and Comparative Assessment. University of Texas Press: Austin.

Carpenter, William[?]. 1868[?]. Transation of ALS to William Dunbar. Mss.497.V85.13, American Indian Vocabulary Collection, American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Chamberlain, Alexander F. 1888. The Catawba Language. Toronto: Imrie and Graham.

  • Includes a 34-item comparison Catawba and Chitimacha, as well as Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, Caddo, Yuchi, Natchez, Adai, Alabama, and Koasati, attempting to show their relations.

Crawford, James Mack. 1975. Studies in Southeastern Indian Languages. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

  • The book consists of a collection of articles on languages of the Southeast. Crawford reports collecting 14 words from semi-speakers of  Chitimacha in 1969.

Crawford, James Mack. nd. Chitimacha, James M. Crawford Papers, Mss.Ms.Coll.66, Series IV, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Cysouw, Michael. 1999. Singular pronominal marking, or: Exotic aspects of some Germanic languages. Available online:

  • A typological survey of person syncretism. Of the several hundred languages surveyed, only 11 were found to have person syncretism, including Chitimacha. The syncretism was always found on inflection marking, rather than person marking. He also shows that it is not necessary to clarify ambiguous inflectional marking with independent pronouns in these languages.

Densmore, Frances. 1933. Manuscripts relating to the study of Seminole Music 1931-1942, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 4690, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

DuPonceau, Peter Stephen. 1820-1844. Indian vocabularies, 1820-1844. Mss.497.3.ln2, American Philosophical Society, Philadephia, PA.

Duralde, Martin. ALS to William Dunbar. Mss.497.V85.12, American Indian Vocabulary Collection, American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Duralde, Martin. nd. Notes on Atakapa and Chitimacha vocabularies April 23, 1802 – August 23, 1898, MS 289, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Gallatin, Abraham Alfonse Albert. 1836. A Synopsis of the Indian tribes within the United States East of the Rocky Mountains, and in the British and Russian Possessions in North America. In Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Archaeologica Americana, Vol. 2, pp. 1-422. Cambridge: American Antiquarian Society.

  • This was the first large-scale attempt at classifying languages of the southeast. Includes the Duralde vocabulary.

Gallatin, Abraham Alfonse Albert. 1848. Hale’s Indians of North-West America, and Vocabularies of North America; with an Introduction. Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 2: 1-130. New York.

  • Includes the Duralde vocabulary.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1828-1906. Albert Samuel Gatschet Papers 1828-1906, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • Most of Gatschet’s papers are archived as individual manuscripts, but this record consists of a number of his papers collected together. It is composed primarily of materials on the Klamath of Southwestern Oregon. In all likelihood this collection does not contain materials on Chitimacha, but this requires confirmation.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1881-1882. Report on Kataba, Cha’ta and Shetimasha Indians and their languages visited and studied in December 1881 and January 1882, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 287, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • 8 typed pages. Includes a pencil note on page 1 by J. Owen Dorsey. This manuscript contains data Gatschet collected in South Carolina (Catawba), Mississippi (Choctaw), and Louisiana (Chitimacha), and likely contains only general notes on the languages, rough sketches of interesting features, short vocabulary lists (perhaps the 21 words he published in his 1883 ‘The Shetimasha Indians of St. Mary’s Parish, Southern Louisiana’), or a general report on his fieldwork. The report was most likely written for the Bureau of American Ethnology, for which Gatschet began working when it was founded in 1879. The actual date of the report is uncertain, though it must have been written sometime before 1895 when Dorsey passed away. More likely it was written shortly after Gatschet’s visit to Charenton, before publishing his 1883 work.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1882-1883? Words, copied from J. S. Vater’s “Analecten der Sprachkunde”, MS 285, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • 6 pages. Johann Severin Vater published a two-volume work in 1820-1821 entitled Analecten der Sprachkunde (‘Analects of Language Studies’), in which he included data from the 1802 Duralde vocabulary. Oscar Loew worked for the U.S. Geological Survey West of the 100th Meridian (the Wheeler Survey), and appears to have copied the Duralde vocabulary from Vater’s book, which later found its way into Gatschet’s possession, who also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, but under Powell. The NAA catalog incorrectly spells Vater’s name as Vader.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1884. Die Schetimacha-Indianer im Sülichen Luisiana. Ausland 30ː 581-89.

  • A history of the Chitimacha with some remarks on the language.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1883. The Shetimasha Indians of St. Mary’s Parish, Southern Louisiana. Transactions of the Anthropological Society of Washington 2 (May): 148-59. Proceedings of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the Anthropological Society of Washington, May 1, 1883.

  • Includes a 21-item word list and additional Chitimacha terms throughout the text. This work is where Gatschet derives the word ‘Chitimacha’ from a word meaning ‘they have cooking pots’ in Choctaw, though this etymology is highly suspect.

Gatschet, Albert Samuel. 1907. Chitimacha. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, ed. Frederick Webb Hodge. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30 (1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 286.

Gibbs, George. nd. Gibbs’ copy of Gallatin’s Chetimachas vocabulary. MS 286, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Granberry, Julian. 2009. Speaking Sitimaxa: A Learner’s Grammar and Reader. Volume 1: Grammar. Lincom Language Coursebooks 12. Lincom.

Granberry, Julian. 2009. Speaking Sitimaxa: A Learner’s Grammar and Reader. Volume 2: Reader (plus audio CD). Lincom Language Coursebooks 12. Lincom.

Granberry, Julian. 2009. Speaking Sitimaxa: A Learner’s Grammar and Reader. Volume 3: Dictionary. Lincom Language Coursebooks 12. Lincom.

Gursky, Karl-Heinz. 1965. “Ein lexikalischer Vergleich der Algonkin-Golf und Hoka-Subtiaba-Sprachen (1).” Orbis 14: 160-215.

  • Proposes cognate sets and sound correspondences between Chitimacha and Karok, and Chitimacha and Yana.

Gursky, Karl-Heinz. 1969. A Lexical Comparison of the Atakapa, Chitimacha, and Tunica Languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 35: 2 (April), pp. 83-107.

  • Proposes sound correspondences between Chitimacha, Atakapa, and Tunica.

Haas, Mary R. 1939. Natchez and Chitimacha Clans and Kinship Terminology. American Anthropologist 41: 597-610.

  • Lists some Chitimacha kinship terms.

Haas, Mary R. 1958. A New Linguistic Relationship in North America: Algonkian and the Gulf Languages. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 14 (3) (Autumn), pp. 231-264.

Harrington, M Raymond. 1908. Among Louisiana Indians. Southern Workman 37: 656-61.

  • Reports that the Chitimacha language is still spoken by a few people in St. Mary’s Parish.

Iannucci, David J. 2009. Aspects of Chitimacha Phonology. Master’s Thesis, Department of Linguistics, University of Utah.

  • Iannucci argues that word-final glottals in Chitimacha are epenthetic, although the glottal in general is still a full phoneme in the language. It merely serves as the default epenthetic consonant. He also treats with the process of ambisyllabification. Iannucci’s analysis is particularly impressive given that his data was limited to that featured in Swadesh’s published works and his vocabulary card slips.

Jefferson, Thomas. 1802-1808. Comparative vocabularies of several Indian languages, 1802-1808, Mss.497.J35, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Kimball, Geoffrey. 1994. Comparative difficulties of the “Gulf” languages. In Survey of California and Other Indian Languages 8, Proceedings of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas and the Hokan-Penutian Workshop, July 2-4, 1993. 31-39.

  • Kimball offers a brief summary of findings from previous research on the proposed Gulf language family, and concludes that the evidence is tantalizing, but not sufficient to be conclusive.

Latham, Robert Gordon. 1845. “Miscellaneous Contributions to the Ethnography of North America.” Proceedings of the Philological Society 2, London: 31-50.

  • Includes an extensive comparative vocabulary of Chitimacha with several other languages. Most likely based on the Duralde vocabulary.

Latham, Robert Gordon. 1862. Elements of Comparative Philology. London: Walton and Maberly.

  • A Chitimacha vocabulary (most likely based on the Duralde vocabulary) is included on pages 469-170.

Sapir, Edward. ca. 1907. List of words, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 234, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Schomburgk, Robert H. 1848. “Contributions to the Philological Ethnography of South America.” Proceedings of the Philological Society 3, London: pp. 228-37.

  • Includes a comparative vocabulary on pages 236-37, most likely based on the Duralde vocabulary.

Swadesh, Morris. 1933. Chitimacha Verbs of Derogatory or Abusive Connotation with Parallels from European Languages. Language 9: 192-201.

  • Swadesh sketches the system of auxiliary verbs in Chitimacha, one of which indexes objects in a horizontal position, and can be used with a derogatory connotation.

Swadesh, Morris. 1934. Chitimacha paradigmatic tables, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G6.4, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1934. The Phonemic Principle. Language 10 (2): 117-129.

Swadesh, Morris. 1934. The Phonetics of Chitimacha. Language 10: 345-62.

  • A general phonemic analysis of the language, with numerous illustrations.

Swadesh, Morris. 1935. Earlier copies of Chitimacha texts, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.B63c GB.6, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1937. “The Phonemic Interpretation of Long Consonants.” Language 13: 1-10.

  • Discusses the phonemic status of geminate / long consonants in Chitimacha.

Swadesh, Morris. 1939. Chitimacha grammar, texts and vocabulary, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1946. Chitimacha. In Hoijer, Harry (ed.), Linguistic Structures of Native America. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology 6, New Yorkː Viking Fund, pp. 312-336.

  • A grammatical sketch of the Chitimacha language – the most complete ever published. (Swadesh did also complete a Chitimacha dictionary, but this was never published, and is archived at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.)

Swadesh, Morris. 1946. Phonologic Formulas for Atakapa-Chitimacha. International Journal of American Linguistics 12 (3): 113-132.

  • Swadesh attempts to support the relationship between the two languages by presenting 240 cognate sets.

Swadesh, Morris. 1947. “Atakapa-Chitimacha *kʷ.” International Journal of American Linguistics 13ː 120-21.

  • Swadesh reconstructs a proto-/*kʷ/, which becomes Chitimacha /k/.

Swadesh, Morris. 1948. Sociologic Notes on Obsolescent Languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 14 (4), October: pp. 226-235.

  • Includes information about the vitality of Chitimacha.

Swadesh, Morris. 1950. Chitimacha dictionary file, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G6.1, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1950. Chitimacha-English dictionary, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics, Mss.497.3.B63c G6.2, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Swadesh, Morris. 1954. Time Depths of American Linguistic Groupings. American Anthropologist 56: 361-64; Comments, pp. 364-77.

Swadesh estimates the split between Chitimacha and Atakapa at 4,700 years ago.

Swadesh, Morris. 1960. Afinidades de las lenguas amerindias. Proceedings of the 34th International Congress of Americanists. Vienna: Verlag Ferdinand Berger, Horn. 729-38.

  • A lexicostatistical classification of American Indian languages.

Swadesh, Morris. 1967. Lexicostatistic Classification. Linguistics. Ed. Norman A McQuown. Austin: University of Texas Press. Vol. 5 of Handbook of Middle American Indians. Ed. Robert Wauchope, pp. 79-115.

  • Includes time-depth estimates for Chitimacha-Tunica and Siouan-Chitimacha.

Swanton, John Reed. 1908-1931. Chitimacha-English dictionary 1908-1931, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 2439, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1908-1931. Copy of Gatschet’s texts in MS 288-a 1908-1931, MS 288-b, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1911. Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Adjacent Coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 43, Washington, D.C.

Swanton, John Reed. 1916-1917. Comparative vocabularies of Southeastern and Gulf Languages 1916-1917, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 4121, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1917. Some Chitimacha Myths and Beliefs. Journal of American Folklore 30: 474-78.

  • Includes five fragments of myths, with a few Chitimacha words.

Swanton, John Reed. 1919. A Structural and Lexical Comparison of the Tunica, Chitimacha, and Atakapa Languages. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 68. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

  • Consists mainly of tables of proposed cognates and sound correspondences. Swanton sketches some of the grammatical and phonetic similarities, and concludes that the three languages are of the same language family, but still highly diverse.

Swanton, John Reed. 1920. A Sketch of the Chitimacha Language 1920, MS 4122, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. 1930. Copy of A. S. Gatschet’s Tunica Texts and Swanton’s Tunica texts Summer, 1930, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 4123, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Swanton, John Reed. nd. The Legend of Chitimacha’s Head, MS 4892, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

  • This document is incorrectly labeled in the NAA system. It should be ‘The Legend of Chicameca’s Head’, a Choctaw story about an upright stone pillar called Chicameca’s head. This manuscript does not in fact relate to Chitimacha.

Swanton, John Reed. nd. List entitled “Southern Collections in the Field Museum of Natural History”, Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier), MS 4203, National Anthropological Archives, Suitland, MD.

Toomey, Noxon (Thomas)? 1914. Relationships of the Chitimachan Linguistic Family. Hervas Laboratories of American Linguistics Bulletin 4. St. Louis: Hervas Laboratories.

  • Toomey attempts to show a connection between Chitimacha and Natchez.

Vater, Johann Severin. 1820-1821. Analekten der Sprachenkunde. 2 vols. Leipzig.

  • Volume 1 was published in 1820, and Volume 2 in 1821. Analecten der Sprachkunde (‘Analects of Language Studies’), includes data from the first known source on Chitimacha, the 1802 Duralde vocabulary. In volume 2, Vater acknowledges the assistance of Peter Stephen Du Ponceau, then-president of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, making Du Ponceau the likely source of Vater’s knowledge of the Duralde vocabulary. Volume 2, Section III is entitled ‘Word Lists from the Languages of the Osages, Atacaps, and Chetimachas, in Southern Louisiana’, and contains the full Duralde vocabulary of 385 words, from French to English, on pages 73-83.

Vaughan, John. 1825. Endorsement on vocabularies. Mss.497.V85.1c, American Indian Vocabulary Collection, American Philosophical Society Historical and Literary Committee, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Weinberg, Miranda. 2008. From Obsolescence to Renaissance: Language Change in Chitimacha. Thesis for B.A. in Linguistics, Swarthmore College.

Biographical Information

Swadesh, Morris

Swanton, John Reed

et al.

2 thoughts on “Chitimacha (Bibliography)

  1. Hey Danny,

    This is very impressive! It’s great that you’ll go get copies of the other sources, too. I’m going to be in Philadelphia starting in the fall, so if you ever need things from the American Philosophical Association I can head over there.

    I just checked out the bibliography from my senior thesis and I noticed a couple things. I think these two Swadesh papers use data from Chitimacha, and I don’t remember whether the Swanton publication has any language information. I cited it for population figures.
    Swadesh, Morris. 1934. The phonemic principle. Language 10.117-29.
    Swadesh, Morris. 1948. Sociologic notes on obsolescent languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 14.226-35.
    Swanton, John Reed. 1952. The Indian tribes of North America. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

    I hope all is well with you and in Louisiana!

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