Mutsun language

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San Juan Bautista
Native to United States
Region California
Ethnicity Ohlone
Extinct 1930, with the death of Ascencion Solórzano de Cervantes[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 (included in css)
Glottolog muts1243[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Area where the Utian languages were spoken

Mutsun (also known as San Juan Bautista Costanoan) is an Utian language that was spoken in Northern California. It was the primary language of a division of the Ohlone people living in the Mission San Juan Bautista area.

Studies of the language

Ascencion Solorsano amassed large amounts of language and cultural data specific to the Mutsun. The Spanish Franciscan missionary and linguist Felipe Arroyo de la Cuesta wrote extensively about the language's grammar, and linguist John Peabody Harrington made very extensive notes on the language from Solorsano. Harrington's field notes formed the basis of the grammar of Mutsun written by Marc Okrand as a University of California dissertation in 1977,[1] which to this day remains the only grammar[citation needed] ever written of any Costanoan language. Scholars from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands have discussed methods that could facilitate the revitalization of Mutsun.[3]

The Amah Mutsun band is currently working to restore use of the language, using a modern alphabet.[4][5]


Vowel and consonant phonemes are represented here with the orthography used in the English-Mutsun dictionary, with the orthographic symbol bolded if it differs from IPA transcription.[6]


Front Back
Close i u
Mid e ɛ o
Open a ɑ
  • /ɛ/ is open-mid, whereas /o/ is close-mid.[6]
  • Vowels and consonants are doubled to indicate longer pronunciation (ex: IPA for toolos 'knee' is [toːlos])


Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
hard palatal
Nasal m n N ɲ
Stop p t tY T ʈ k ' ʔ
Affricate ts č
Fricative s S ʃ h
Approximant w l L y j
Flap r ɾ


  1. ^ a b Okrand, Marc. 1977. "Mutsun Grammar". Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mutsun". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Revitalization in a scattered language community: problems and methods from the perspective of Mutsun language revitalization, Authors: Natasha Warner / Quirina Luna / Lynnika Butler / Heather van Volkinburg, International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Volume 2009, Issue 198, Pages 135–148, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: 10.1515/IJSL.2009.031, July 2009
  4. ^ Warner, N. (2006). Making a Dictionary for Community Use in Language Revitalization: The Case of Mutsun. International Journal of Lexicography, 19(3), 257-285. Retrieved from [1]
  5. ^ Warner, N., Luna, Q., & Butler, L. (2007). Ethics and Revitalization of Dormant Languages: The Mutsun Language.1(1). Retrieved from [2]
  6. ^ a b Okrand, (page 21)
  • Arroyo de la Cuesta, Felipe (1862). A vocabulary or phrase book of the Mutsun language of Alta California. Cramoisy Press. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  • Arroyo de la Cuesta, Felipe (1861). Extracto de la gramática Mutsun, ó de la lengua de los naturales de la mision de San Juan Bautista. Trübner. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  • Okrand, Marc. 1977. "Mutsun Grammar". Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Ortiz, Beverly R. 1994. Chocheño and Rumsen Narratives: A Comparison. In The Ohlone: Past and Present, pp. 99–164. ISBN 9780879191290
  • Sitjar, Bonaventura (1861). Vocabulary of the language of San Antonio mission, California. Trübner. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  • Teixeira, Lauren S. 1997. The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area—A Research Guide. Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press. ISBN 9780879191405

External links

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