Palaihnih, Laikni
Linguistic classificationHokan ?
  • Shasta–Palaihnihan ?
    • Palaihnihan

Palaihnihan (also Palaihnih) is a language family of northeastern California. It consists of two closely related languages, both now extinct:

  1. Atsugewi (†)
  2. Achumawi (†) (ís siwa wó disi, also known as Achomawi, Pit River Indian)


The original reconstruction of proto-Palaihnihan suffered from poor quality data. David Olmsted's dictionary depends almost entirely upon de Angulo, who did not record the phonological distinctions consistently or well,[1] and carelessly includes Pomo vocabulary from a manuscript in which he (de Angulo) set out to demonstrate that Achumawi and Pomo are not related.[2] William Bright has also pointed out problems with Olmsted's methods of reconstruction.[3] The reconstruction is being refined with newer data.[4]

Good, McFarland, & Paster (2003) conclude there were at least three vowels, *a *i *u, and possibly marginal *e, along with vowel length and ablaut. Consonants were as follows:[4]

  Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular (Epi)glottal
Stop plain p t k q ʔ
aspirated tʃʰ  
ejective tʃʼ  
Fricative   s       ʜ   h
Nasal plain m n      
Trill plain r      
Approximant plain w l j      

Genetic relations

The Palaihnihan family is often connected with the hypothetical Hokan stock. Proposed special relationships within Hokan include Palaihnihan with Shastan (known as Shasta-Achomawi) and within a Kahi sub-group (also known as Northern Hokan) with Shastan, Chimariko, and Karuk.


  1. ^ Nevin 1991, 1998.
  2. ^ Gursky, Karl-Heinz (1987). "Achumawi und Pomo, eine besondere Beziehung?". Abhandlungen der völkerkundlichen Arbsgemeinschaft. Nortorf. 57.
  3. ^ Bright, William; Olmsted, D. L. (1965). "Review of A history of Palaihnihan phonology by D. L. Olmsted". Language. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America. 41 (1): 175–178. doi:10.2307/411871. JSTOR 411871.
  4. ^ a b Good, McFarland, & Paster (2003) "Reconstructing Achumawi and Atsugewi: Proto-Palaihnihan revisited"