A Grammar of Seri by Stephen A. Marlett

By Stephen A. Marlett

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Despite having similar symbols to Spanish, the use of ö (o-dieresis) as part of the digraphs cö, jö and xö are obvious “badges” that a text is not Spanish, in addition to the ubiquitous consonant clusters and double vowels. Seri has four vowel qualities, but these vowels also occur long as well as short. The vowel symbols a, e, i, and o are used. The vowel symbol is repeated to indicate length: aa, ee, ii, oo. Only a few words arguably have sequences of identical vowels; these sequences sound identical to the long vowels and they are written the same.

Young people seem to be using Spanish for Internet chatting (although oral conversations in the internet café have been observed being carried out in Seri). Web pages and blogs appear to be using primarily Spanish at the present time. 6 Dialectal differences While in previous centuries there may have been three mutually intelligible dialects of Seri spoken,68 today no significant dialect differences exist. For several decades now the Seri-speaking population has resided primarily in the two towns described above between which there has been regular communication and movement of populations.

73 Di Peso and Matson (1965). 74 José F. 76 Another list obtained by D. A. Tenochio around 1860 was used by Francisco Pimentel in his classification of the Seri language. 77 Loustaunau made an extensive list in 1885 for the government of Mexico. In 1898 W. J. McGee published a vocabulary list (collected by himself in 1894) in his report for the Smithsonian. He also made available the data from the most important data-collectors and provided discussion and comparison with Yuman languages. 78 The first comprehensive and serious linguistic investigation of the Seri language began with the arrival of Edward and Mary (Becky) Moser in 1951.

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