Seri (Cmiique Iitom) is a language isolate spoken in Northwestern Mexico, along the coast of the Gulf of California by around 900 individuals. Previous work had proposed classifying Seri as part of the Hokan stock but there is a lack of data available to confirm this claim. Some of its basic typological features include rich verbal morphology (with very large verbal paradigms), an unusually large set of kinship terms, SOV preferred constituent order and switch reference marking.

The Seri people were traditionally hunter-gatherer-fisher people who moved around semi-nomadically within what is now the state of Sonora, the Gulf of California and Baja California. Since the second half of the 20th century, their lifestyle has become much more sedentary and their economy is now cash-based, depending primarily on the sale of fish to local fish buyers, the sale of hunting permits and the sale of baskets and other crafts. Due to the increased contact with non-Seri Mexicans and outsiders in general, most Seri speakers are now bilingual in Spanish, the dominant language of the area.

Selected publications

  • Stephen A. Marlett. 2005. A Typological Overview of the Seri Language. Linguistic Discovery 3. 54-73.
  • Stephen A. Marlett. 1981. The Structure of Seri. PhD thesis, University of California at San Diego.
  • Moser, Mary Beck and Stephen A. Marlett. 2004. Comcáac quih yaza quih hant ihíip hac: Diccionario seri-español-inglés con índices Español – Seri, Inglés – Seri y con gramática. México, D. F.: Plaza y Valdés Editores.

Link to Glottolog