AskDefine | Define Iroquoian

Dictionary Definition

Iroquoian n : a family of North American Indian languages spoken by the Iroquois peoples [syn: Iroquois, Iroquoian language]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of or pertaining to a Native American language family including the Iroquois and Cherokee.

Extensive Definition

The Iroquoian languages are a Native American language family. The language family includes Mohawk, Huron-Wyandot and Cherokee.
Every language in this family has at least one nasal vowel phoneme. Cherokee's is a nasal schwa, written in transliteration as 'v' (for example, "Hv?" sounds like "Huh?" nasalized, and means the same thing).

Family division

The Iroquoian family comprises 11 languages:
Southern Iroquoian
1. Cherokee
Northern Iroquoian
2. Tuscarora
3. Nottoway
4. Neutral
5. Huron-Wyandot
Five Nations and Susquehannock
6. Seneca
7. Cayuga
8. Susquehannock
9. Onondaga
10. Oneida
11. Mohawk
What has been called the Laurentian language appears to be actually more than one dialect or language.
In 1649 the tribes constituting the Huron and Petun confederations were displaced by war parties from Five Nations villages (Mithun 1985). Many of the survivors went on to form the Wyandot tribe. Ethnographic and linguistic field work with the Wyandot (Barbeau 1960) yielded enough documentation to be able to make some characterizations of the Huron and Petun languages.
The languages of the tribes that constituted the Neutral and the Erie confederations were very poorly documented. These groups were called Atiwandaronk meaning 'they who understand the language' by the Huron, and thus are historically grouped with them.
The group known as the Meherrin were neighbors to the Tuscarora and the Nottoway (Binford 1967)and may have spoken an Iroquoian language, but there is not enough data to determine this with certainty.
The Huronian languages, Nottoway, and Susquehannock are all now extinct.

Distant relationships

Some linguists group the Iroquoian languages with the Siouan languages as the Macro-Siouan family, but this larger family is not recognized by a consensus of linguists.


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Iroquoian in Breton: Yezhoù irokwoyek
Iroquoian in Catalan: Iroquès
Iroquoian in German: Irokesische Sprachen
Iroquoian in Spanish: Lenguas iroquesas
Iroquoian in Esperanto: Irokeza lingvaro
Iroquoian in French: Langues iroquoiennes
Iroquoian in Croatian: Irokeški narodi i jezici
Iroquoian in Italian: Lingue irochesi
Iroquoian in Lithuanian: Irokėzų kalbos
Iroquoian in Polish: Języki irokeskie
Iroquoian in Russian: Ирокезские языки
Iroquoian in Swedish: Irokesiska språk
Iroquoian in Turkish: İroqu Dilleri
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