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Native toMexico, United States
RegionBaja California, Arizona, Sonora
Native speakers
US: 370 (2015)[1]
Mexico: 180 (2020)[1]
  • Delta–Californian
    • Cocopah
Language codes
ISO 639-3coc
Lang Status 60-DE.svg
Cocopa is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Cocopah is a Delta language of the Yuman language family spoken by the Cocopah. Cocopah is believed to have derived from the Hokan language, and it is related to the other Native American languages of Mojave and Kumeyaay.[2] Cocopah is considered an endangered language, with fewer than 400 speakers at the turn of the 21st century. However, in an effort to keep the language alive, Yuma County's Cocopah Museum began offering classes teaching Cocopah to children in 1998.


Much of the Cocopah language was passed down through speaking, rather than through writing. This, in large part, is due to the fact that the language did not have an alphabet for the majority of its existence. It was not until the 1970s that a written language was developed, when a scholar decided to approach this task for a dissertation. Although the creation of an alphabet was useful, the original proved to be less than ideal, and so a new one was developed by the tribe in the early 2000s. As the revival of the language progressed, it became apparent that the language did not have words to fit the advances made in modern society. In turn, the tribe developed new words to attribute to modern objects that did not exist in the ancient language. The elders of the tribe were given the responsibility of developing these new words and/or phrases. [3]

While the Cocopah tribe inhabits parts of Arizona and parts of Mexico, the written language differs based on the location of the tribe. For instance, Cocopah in Mexico use a different orthography than Cocopah in Arizona. The Mexican-based Cocopah use an orthography that was designed by the INALI, an organization that examines and protects the rights of endangered languages.



Cocopah has 21 consonants:

Bilabial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
plain lateral plain lateral plain labial
Nasal m n ɲ
Stop p t ʈ k ʔ
Fricative s ʂ ʃ ɬʲ x
Approximant l j w
Trill r


Cocopah has 4 vowels.

Front Back
Close i / u /
Mid e /
Open a /

Cocopah has both short and long vowels.

Syllable & phonotactics

The Cocopah syllable:




  1. ^ a b Cocopah at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ Vocabulary in Native American Languages. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2018, from
  3. ^ "Cocopah language class seeks to keep ancient tongue from dying out" (July 29, 2007) Yuma Sun Archived February 9, 2013, at