Caddo Verb Morphology


Caddo Verb Morphology

Lynette R. Melnar

Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas Series

224 pages


December 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

At the time of European contact with Native communities, the Caddos (who call themselves the Hasinai) were accomplished traders living in the southern plains. Their communities occupied parts of present-day Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. It was early Spanish explorers who named a part of this territory “Texas,” borrowing the Caddo word for “friend.” Today there are approximately thirty-five hundred Caddos, most of whom live in Oklahoma. Their original language, which is related to the Plains languages—Pawnee, Arikara, Kitsai, and Wichita—is rapidly dying and is spoken only by a diminishing number of Caddo elders.

Drawing on interviews with Caddo speakers, tapes made by earlier researchers, and written accounts, Lynette R. Melnar provides the first full-length overview and analysis of Caddo grammar. Because Caddo is an extremely complex language, Melnar’s clear description will be important to linguists in general as well as to those specializing in Native languages. Caddo Verb Morphology is an essential contribution to our understanding of the Caddos’ traditional world in particular and of Native America in general.

Author Bio

Lynette R. Melnar has a PhD in linguistics and is a research scientist for Motorola Labs.


“[Caddo Verb Morphology] is sure to gain a reputation as the definitive description of what must be one of the world’s most interesting polysynthetic morphologies. Melnar is to be congratulated on her detailed and insightful analysis, but also on the lucidity with which she presents it.”—Wallace Chafe, author of Meaning and the Structure of Language

“A clear, organized, coherent description of the way meanings are expressed in Caddo verbs. . . . The loss of such languages impoverishes our knowledge of ourselves. We must be grateful to scholars like Melnar and Chafe, however, for providing us with at least a little peek into otherwise unacknowledged ways in which our brains can enable thought and communication.”—David S. Rood, Great Plains Research

“The yield of considerable thought, hard work, and language analysis. . . . We are pleased to note its publication for the benefit of those interested in the history of our region.”—East Texas Historical Journal

“[Melnar's] examination of Caddo is exemplary: thorough, detailed, and methodologically sound. She writes primarily for linguists but is careful to always identify terms and procedures. . . . Caddo Verb Morphology is a good book that will certainly become one of the central documents for the study of Caddo and the Caddo language family and an important text for Native American linguistics. ”—Martin M. Jacobsen, Southwestern American Literature