Linguistics Kiowa-Tanoan Languages
Daniel Harbour
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0073


The Kiowa-Tanoan family consists of Kiowa and the Tanoan languages Tewa, Tiwa, and Towa (Jemez), many of which have dialects named after the pueblos in which they are spoken (e.g., Isleta, Picurís, Sandia, Santa Clara, San Juan, Taos). The family presents a number of grammatical phenomena that have fascinated historical, descriptive, typological, and theoretical linguists. The aim of this bibliography is to provide an overview of these strands of research and key topics within them. Research of primarily ethnolinguistic and anthropological linguistic interest has been omitted except where it enlightens other topics.


Despite the geographic and cultural distance between the Kiowas and members of the Tanoan branch of the family, a genetic relationship between Kiowa and Tanoan was postulated at least as early as 1910 (by John P. Harrington). The principal demonstration of the relationship is offered in Hale 1962 and Hale 1967. Hill 2008 argues against grouping Kiowa-Tanoan with Uto-Aztecan. Some comparative works with diachronic perspective are Watkins 1996, Kroskrity 1984, and Sutton 2010 (nonhistorical comparative works are discussed at various points in the article).

  • Hale, Kenneth. 1962. Jemez and Kiowa correspondences in reference to Kiowa-Tanoan. International Journal of American Linguistics 28:1–8.

    DOI: 10.1086/464664

    One of two key works establishing the relationship between Kiowa and the Tanoan languages.

  • Hale, Kenneth. 1967. Toward a reconstruction of Kiowa-Tanoan phonology. International Journal of American Linguistics 33:112–120.

    DOI: 10.1086/464948

    The second of Hale’s two key works establishing the relationship between Kiowa and the Tanoan languages.

  • Hill, Jane H. 2008. Northern Uto-Aztecan and Kiowa-Tanoan: Evidence of contact between the proto-languages? International Journal of American Linguistics 74:155–188.

    DOI: 10.1086/587703

    Argues against the long-standing hypothesis relating Kiowa-Tanoan and Northern Uto-Aztecan. Suggests borrowing between the protolanguages.

  • Kroskrity, Paul V. 1984. Negation and subordination in Arizona Tewa: Discourse pragmatics influencing syntax. International Journal of American Linguistics 50:94–104.

    DOI: 10.1086/465817

    On negation and subordination in Tewa and Tiwa with some historical discussion.

  • Sutton, Logan. 2010. Noun class and number in Kiowa-Tanoan: Comparative-historical research and respecting speakers’ rights in fieldwork. In Fieldwork and linguistic analysis in indigenous languages of the Americas. Edited by Andrea L. Berez, Jean Mulder, and Daisy Rosenblum, 57–89. Manoa: Univ. of Hawaii Press.

    On noun class and number in Kiowa-Tanoan with some historical hypotheses.

  • Watkins, Laurel J. 1996. Reconstructing person and voice in Kiowa-Tanoan: Pit-falls and progress. In Special session on historical issues in Native American languages. Edited by David Librik and Roxane Beeler, 139–152. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

    Some historical decomposition of the complex Kiowa-Tanoan agreement prefix as well as discussion of “passives.”

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