Historical written works on the Quapaw Language


This document is a compilation of sources in Quapaw and an analysis of their reliability based upon their consistency, or lack thereof, between other sources of Quapaw as well as their consistency between other Dhegiha language sources.



1827                George Izard . reliable, with few exceptions


Governor of Arkansas Territory, compiled a Quapaw vocabulary consisting of approximately 226 entries.


The Quapaw interpreters are exclusively French creoles or half-breeds. I was therefore under the necessity of using the French language in the first instance to explain the Indian words.


I originally wrote the Indian words as they were uttered successfully by two individuals, one the interpreter, the other an Indian chief,

 See G.Izard.pdf & George Izard Material 1825 Language Comparison Sheet.pdf


1882                Lewis F. Hadley . material is extremely unreliable


James Owen Dorseys extract of Lewis F. Hadleys material notes some of Hadleys discrepancies in Dorseys handwriting in the margins.  Lewis F. Hadleys material is beset with problems.


Most aspects of Hadleys system of spelling fail to accurately represent the pronunciation of Quapaw.  There is no consistency with vowels and consonants, as well as lack of understanding of the basic Dhegiha language concepts and sounds.


Here are just a few examples of the problems with Hadleys material.


Hadleys entry:           a-go-de - good bye, I go now


Dhegiha Cognate Comparison:

a-kde (akd) - I go home, I start homeward (Quapaw)

a-gthe (ag) - I go back, I go homeward (Omaha/Ponca)

a-gthe (-ghte) - I go home (FL-Osage)

a-le (ale) - I return there (CQ-Osage)

a-le (al) - I go back to a place, I go home (Kanza)

Please see "go home, to start homeward" on our language pages for this comparison.


Hadleys entry:           cr-k - dog


Quapaw Comparison:

shoⁿ-ke (schŏnnkĭēh) - dog (Izard 1827 - Quapaw)

shoⁿ-ke (că′k͓e) - dog (Dorsey 1890 - Quapaw)

shoⁿ-ge (̨Ge) - dog (Siebert 1940 - Quapaw)

shoⁿ-ke (̨ke) - dog (Rankin 1973 - Quapaw)

Please see "dog" on our language pages for this comparison.


Dhegiha Cognate Comparison:

shoⁿ-ge (shⁿ-ge) - horse (Omaha/Ponca)

shoⁿ-ge (shoⁿ́-ge) - dog or wolf (FL-Osage)

shoⁿ-ke (̨ke) - dog, wolf (CQ-Osage)

shoⁿ-ge o-yu-da (shⁿge yud) - dog (Kanza)


Hadleys entry:           cru, cron, crun - tree, wood


Quapaw Comparison:

zhoⁿ (jon) - tree (Izard 1827 - Quapaw)

zhoⁿ (jŭⁿ) - tree (Dorsey 1890 - Quapaw)

zhaⁿ (ą) - tree, wood (Siebert 1940 - Quapaw)

zhaⁿ (ą), zhoⁿ (ǫ) - wood, tree, log (Rankin 1973 - Quapaw)

Please see "tree" on our language pages for this comparison.


Dhegiha Cognate Comparison:

zhoⁿ (zhoⁿ) - wood, tree, yard of cloth, span of horses (Omaha/Ponca)

zhoⁿ (zhoⁿ) - wood, a tree, fuel (FL-Osage)

zhaⁿ (ą́ą) - tree, log, wood, lumber, stick, pole, woods, forest (CQ-Osage)

zhaⁿ (zhaⁿ) - wood, a tree, or log (Kanza)


* Note that there in no r in any of the documentation as far back as 1827.  It seems that Hadley used the following spelling cru and cro to represent the Dhegiha sounds zho (o), sho (o), zha (a), and sha (a).


1890-94           James Owen Dorsey . reliable


James Owen Dorsey was an ethnologist and linguist who worked with the Quapaw, Omaha, Ponca, Osage, and Kanza Tribes, documenting their language and culture.  Dorseys main body of work was with the Omaha Tribe.


Dorseys Quapaw work consists of folklore, mythology, history, texts, linguistic notes, vocabulary, personal names, and names for other tribes.  Dorseys Quapaw vocabulary has been updated by Dr. Robert Rankin.  The vocabulary is a 415 page document, written in Siouan IPA, with verb conjugation listed.



1940                Frank T. Siebert . reliable, with few exceptions


Linguist, complied a Quapaw vocabulary consisting of approximately 86 entries. 


The following Quapaw terms were collected from Victor Griffin and Frank Vallier . The former was a diffident informant, who pointed out to me that Quapaw was closely related to Ponca and Omaha, especially to the latter, and suggested that I study these languages instead.

Frank T.Siebert, Jr. Material 1940.pdf ,  Frank T. Siebert, Jr., International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol.55, No.4


1973-74           Dr. Robert L. Rankin . reliable

Dr. Robert Rankin was a professor at Kansas University Department of Linguistics.  In 1973, Dr. Rankin came to Oklahoma and visited the Quapaw tribe and worked with the few remaining speakers.  This field work, along with the historic documentation on the Quapaw language allowed him to create the following Quapaw works:

         Audio recordings from his field work and tapes acquired from various Quapaw families.

         Quapaw Grammer, Native Languages of the Southeastern United States edited by Janine Scancarelli, Heather Kay Hardy.


         The Unmarking of Quapaw Phonology, The Study of Language Death, in which he basically describes how the Quapaw language changed due to acculturation.



Non-Fluent                                          Fluent Speakers/

Generation                                          Historical Quapaw


wa-sha-ge hi (wage-hi)       <          wa-sh'a-ke hi (waʔke-hi)    very big

wi-ki (wikk)                            <          wi-k'i (wikʔ)                          I give you

wa-ho (wah)                         <          wa-x'o (waxʔo)                        woman

jhi-e (ǰe)                                  <          di-e (de)                                 you

zro (zro)                                   <          zho (o)                                   flesh

o-ga-fpa (ogfpa)                    <          o-ka-xpa (okxpa)                  Quapaw



          A Quapaw Vocabulary, 27 pages from his field studies in 1973-74.


         415 page Quapaw Vocabulary, with approximately 4,000 entries, consisting of his field studies in 1973 and James Owen Dorseys field work from 1890-94.