Iroquoian Languages

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Related to Iroquoian Languages: Native American Languages
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Iroquoian Languages


a group of closely related North American Indian languages in the northeastern part of the USA and adjacent regions of Canada. The group includes Iroquois, Erie, Seneca, Oneida, Tuscarora, Mohawk, Huron, and Cherokee. Together with the Caddo, Pawnee, Arikara, and some other languages in the central part of the USA, the Iroquoian languages are sometimes grouped in the Iroquois-Caddoan family, which is provisionally included in the more extensive Hokan-Siouan family.

The phonetic system of the Iroquoian languages has fewer than 20 phonemes with a high percentage of vowels. Noun morphology is considerably poorer than verb morphology. The verb is polysynthetic and, in addition to a rich system of affixation, uses incorporation of the direct object. It constitutes the nucleus of the sentence. The Iroquoian languages have well-developed derivation. A syllabic writing system consisting of 85 characters, which was created in the early 19th century by an American Indian named Sequoyah, existed in Cherokee.


Allen, L. “Siouan and Iroquoian.” International Journal of American Linguistics, 1931, vol. 6, nos. 3–4.
Bender, E. “Cherokee.” International Journal of American Linguistics, 1949, vol. 15, no. 3.
Holmer, N. M. The Character of the Iroquoian Languages. Uppsala, 1952.
Holmer, N. M. The Seneca Language. Uppsala-Copenhagen, 1954.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sam's song was not translated from Seneca or any other Iroquoian language; it was an original song text, written "when I was a young man", reported the then 23-year-old.
In the Iroquoian language family, most definitions for the Supreme Being have some sort of functional aspect to their meaning.
In the Northern Iroquoian languages neuter participants have their own overt marking only when no animate participant is present.
Seneca is a Northern Iroquoian language still spoken by a few dozen people on three reservations in western New York State (Chafe 1996).
2000: Noun and verb in Iroquoian languages: Multicategorization from multiple criteria.