John E. McLaughlin
Utah State University
Timbisha (Panamint) is a moribund member of the Central Numic branch of the Numic language family of the Uto-Aztecan stock. It was formerly spoken in southeastern California in Death Valley, Saline Valley, Panamint Valley and Owens Valley. Today, the few remaining speakers of Timbisha are concentrated in the Timbisha Shoshone community of Death Valley, California. Unique among Native American communities in the United States, the Timbisha community lives within the confines of a National Park and is therefore subject to unique political and cultural pressures. Timbisha is related to the Shoshone language of Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, and more to the Comanche language of Oklahoma, but it has features that are archaic within Central Numic, such as the retention of a phonemic velar nasal.
Timbisha has an underlying obstruent system which consists of voiceless stops /p, t, k, kw/, two voiceless fricatives /s, h/, and a voiceless affricate /ts/, but a surface phonetic system that includes voiced and voiceless stops, fricatives, and affricates in all the places of articulation of the underlying stops and affricates. Nominals in Timbisha are inflected for three cases and for singular, dual, and plural number. Timbisha aspect and tense are reflected as suffixes on the verb stem and there is a large set of instrumental prefixes that can be prefixed as well. Adverbial relations are marked by postpositions. Timbisha word order is relatively free, although there is a marked tendency toward SOV. Subordinate clauses in Timbisha are marked for same reference of subjects or for switch reference of subjects. John E. McLaughlin, Associate Professor of English at Utah State University, began fieldwork on Timbisha in 1983 and has published on the historical phonology and morphology of the Numic and Central Numic languages since 1980.
ISBN 3895862427. Languages of the World/Materials 453. 71 pp. 2005.