Northern Paiute
Native toUnited States
RegionNevada, California, Oregon, Idaho
Ethnicity6,000 Northern Paiute and Bannock (1999)[1]
Native speakers
700 (2007)[1]
  • Numic
    • Western Numic
      • Northern Paiute
Language codes
ISO 639-3pao
ELPNorthern Paiute
Map showing the traditional geographic distribution of Northern Paiute and Mono
Northern Paiute 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.

Northern Paiute /ˈpt/,[2] endonym Numu,[3] also known as Paviotso, is a Western Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family, which according to Marianne Mithun had around 500 fluent speakers in 1994.[4] It is closely related to the Mono language.


Northern Paiute's phonology is highly variable, and its phonemes have many allophones.[5]


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plain Lab.
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p t k ʔ
Affricate ts
Fricative s h
Semivowel w j


Vowel chart of the Mono Lake dialect of Northern Paiute[6]
Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Open-Mid e ɔ
Open a

Language revitalization

In 2005, the Northwest Indian Language Institute of the University of Oregon formed a partnership to teach Northern Paiute and Kiksht in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation schools.[7] In 2013, Washoe County, Nevada became the first school district in Nevada to offer Northern Paiute classes, offering an elective course in the language at Spanish Springs High School.[8] Classes have also been taught at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada.[9]

Elder Ralph Burns of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation worked with University of Nevada, Reno linguist Catherine Fowler to help develop a spelling system. The alphabet uses 19 letters. They have also developed a language-learning book, “Numa Yadooape,” and a series of computer disks of language lessons.[9]


Northern Paiute is an agglutinative language, in which words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.


  1. ^ a b Northern Paiute at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  3. ^ Leonard, Wesley Y.; Haynes, Erin (December 2010). "Making "collaboration" collaborative: An examination of perspectives that frame linguistic field research". Language Documentation & Conservation. 4: 269–293. hdl:10125/4482. ISSN 1934-5275.
  4. ^ Mithun (1999:541)
  5. ^ Haynes, Erin Flynn (2010). "Phonetic and Phonological Acquisition in Endangered Languages Learned by Adults: A Case Study of Numu (Oregon Northern Paiute)". PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
  6. ^ Babel, Molly; Houser, Michael J.; Toosarvandani, Maziar (2012), "Mono Lake Northern Paiute", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 42 (2): 240, doi:10.1017/S002510031100051X
  7. ^ Joanne B. Mulcahy (2005). "Warm Springs: A Convergence of Cultures" (Oregon History Project). Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  8. ^ Joe Hart (Director). "Nevada Proud: Students get a chance to learn native language in school". My News 4. KRNV, Reno, NV. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  9. ^ a b Vogel, Ed (2014-02-01). "Paiute elder rescues language near extinction". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2014-02-26.