Hupa Language

The Na:tinixwe:-Mixine:we’ language is spoken in Northern California in and around the Hoopa Valley community. It is the only member of the Athabaskan language family spoken in California with a continual and uninterupted linguistic tradition; it’s closest relatives: Mattole, and the Eel River languages are either extinct or in a state of revitalisation.

The orthography in use today is fairly similar to other Athabaskan languages, except that long vowels are marked by a colon ‹a:›. Other languages like Diné Bizaad (Navajo) use doubled letters ‹aa›, while Kaska indicates vowel length with diacritic marks ‹ā›. There is no phonemic tone distinctions Na:tinixwe:-Mixine:we’

ISO 639-3 language code: hup


The United States Census counts 93 Hupa speakers. However, in talking to Hupa speakers personally, the figure of 93 speakers is likely far too high, the number is more likely under thirty.

There are several Roman Orthography conventions on this site that may require further explanation. On the charts below, there is lots of phonetic terminology that may not be familiar to everyone.


  bilabial alveolar alveolar affricate lateral palato-alveolar  palato-alveolar rounded palatal velar velar rounded uvular glottal
voiceless stop b d dz   j   gy g   q
aspirated stop   t ts   ch chw ky k      
ejective stop   t’ ts’ tł’ ch’   ky’ k’   q’  
voiceless fricative     s ł sh     x xw   h
nasal m n           ng      
resonant       l     y   w    
voiceless resonant                 wh    


  front central back
high i   u
mid e – e:   o – o:
low   a – a:  


  • The orthography as presented above is from the Hupa Language Dictionary (2nd ed.).
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©2008 Chris Harvey/Languagegeek
Last Modified: 02-Jan-2009