Our knowledge of the Karankawa language comes from the following individuals:

  1. Jean Baptiste Talon in an interrogation at Brest, France (1698)
  2. Jean Beranger in his Report (1720)
  3. Jean-Louis Berlandier (1828)
  4. Historian Albert Gatschet’s interviews with Old Simon (1884)
  5. Historian Albert Gatschet’s interviews with Sallie Washington (1884)
  6. Historian Albert Gatschet’s interviews with Mrs. Alice W. Oliver (1888)

The list below is comprised of 414 words from the prior six sources. Karankawa Alex Perez has a more complete and comprehensive list that he has preserved. If you are interested in learning more about the Karankawa language, Alex is the expert. You can reach him, at the following email:


* – ch = š voiceless postalveolar fricative; for example: ship, push, delicious (for more meaning behind the phonetic symbols click here)

? – source handwriting is ambiguous and educated guesses were made for spelling.

( ) – taken from source

[ ] – my comments

All spelling and accent marks replicated from sources.

An alphabetical list can be downloaded here: Excel | PDF

The categorized list as shown below can be downloaded here: Excel | PDF

I initially believed this to be the first collective list of the Karankawa language ever  published, but after some research I found a similar list published in 1994 which may have a possible seventh source, see Anthony Grant’s.

Compiled Karankawa Language Talon Brothers (1693) Beranger (1720) Berlandier (1828) Gatschet: Mrs. Oliver (1888) Gatschet: Old Simon (1884) Gatschet: Sallie Washington (1884)
English Native Native Native Native Native Native
Gender and People
A man techoyou alane saylá yámawe úshi
father béhema
he tál
the woman achadu calí
virgin fetscuem-cali
mother kanínma
she tál
girl cali-cuan kā’da
a boy colohs clox gló-ěssěn níktam
a little man, youngster ushi níktam
child, young, babe kwā’n
Indian man choygnea*
Indian woman choygnea-calem*
the Spainards (“people of the land” because they came by land) cahamqueamy kahe or ka
the French (“people of the sea” because they came by sea) calbasses
Tonkawa Indians Tchankáya
Body, Appearance, and Health
blood fechandelman*
the foot eham hei-yú kékeya (foot)
toes hei-yosam
ankle iclea ?
heel ik-dota
sole of the foot ik-aal
the leg emanpocq schemi *
veins? of the entire leg acuynu ?
the knee enelus
the thigh emedale
the arms sumahaha chigmia (arm)
upper arms cha(j)egual
the entire arm laaje
the hand hooyo étsma
fingers hooyo-am étsma
to touch tchaútawa;
nails hooymblé
the back of hand cuama (the back of hand)
palm of the hand ho-yal
from the elbow to the shoulder schotum deeya
the shoulder enidschota eel-em
the stomach and the abdomen (belly/womb) alouo coog ? (belly or bowels) or enauza ? (stomach)
the eyes emicout leca (eye)
to see om tchá
the eyebrows imlahoué
eyelash leguems
eyelid lesayma
pupil of the eye lacuim
the neck emubecq sebilool ?
the head enoquer daal
face iancú ?
the hair equioay couy equa (hair of head) or ecun-eche (hair from animal?) *
the chin emimian hauma agnena (chin or beard)
the nose emay aloumy lóo (nose) or lóo-dulm (large nosed)
the mouth emy aquoy agg
the teeth dolonaquin e(y) or(g) (tooth) é, é tesselénia(toothbrush)
the tongue ascune len (tongue)
lip aggmach *
to speak aal
to whistle áksōl
gums eclenemac ?
palate elcon
clavicle or collar bone lemoolmá
ribs guen, ay(?)
forehead mekloó
the broad faced man? (Cado?) veloó-dulm
face lesáyom or iancú ?
cheek agui
ear aisoyna or ai(g) or ai(y)
ear wax aigenal
heart láhama
breast al kanín (teat)
breasts of a woman (ev)em
testicles en
the private parts of a man emibacq baj (penis)
the uterus hacha culo*
buttock mooj
muscle eel
the entire body quismatamac ?
tattoos (the pricks or punctures they have on them) bachmanae
sick a bas kwátcho
in good health, healthy klabán
tall, large yá-an
small, little kwā’n
round lá-akum
wide yá-an
Clothing, Trinkets, Trade, and Other Odds and Ends
a shoe cameplan
a hat calamu
all kinds of clothes sams
woman’s dress, gown kwíss kádla
textile fabric kwíss
cloth kwíss
hat dalmac-cama
trousers yenna-cama ?
shoe camepel
blanket lams
shirt chacama gusgáma
glove oñecada
handkerchief lams-santle ?
pins and needles beschena aguíya (from Spanish)
to sew tecsilea
pretty woman calee-malem hamála (handsome, pretty in general)
ugly woman calee-bat
bell selabaya
brush tesselénia
glass trinkets quiahin
paper imeter a coum
to read gwá
vermilion cadrum
to give báwûs
to manufacture, to produce, to create, to make káhawan, kosáta
to work takína
Elements, Environment, and Celestial Bodies
fire cohoille quoylesem (fire) cuacha * kwátchi (also used to refer to fever) húmhe
smoke ánawan
live coal alm
ashes ahonae
heat schoj*
the sun colonu clos clon (sun) dó-owal
the moon a ovil tayk
the wood cohab quesoul (wood)
ocean, saltwater, sea cocomden (saltwater) tacui (sea, ocean) gllé-i (ocean, water, open water)
water clay clé gllé-i
the wind eta
the cold delin gláy (cold)
the rain ampaje g(ü)ss or g(ii)s wíasn (to rain)
star caguan
clouds quapan
air lun
sand cohon
tree etsquequi akwiní
field do(ps)á
a cane (reed, walking stick) coln
dwarf pine quesis-maille
resin or tar couja
Tree type?(of a certain wood with which they start fire by rubbing one piece of it against eachother) demaje
an oak apple (oak gall) aix quitoula
tree etsquequi akwiní
mountain euajadan
day bákta
grass awtchzōl
Animals and Insects
A horse canonaium kuwáyi, kuwaí (from Spanish caballo) kwá, kwán
mare cuay-nen
colt or immature stallion cuaanñam
stallion cuaflekuen
dog quez queche qüeche (male) qüeche-nen (female) * kíss
pig, sow quez calbasses “French Dogs” queche tech-lo-disa or tech-lo-nem ? (female pig – probably nen isntead of nem) * madóna tapshewá (hog)
an ox/buffalo dedotte oola-lá (bison or buffalo)
an oxhorn deyuedolan homo (horn)
bull chool-la
female cow chool-nen
calf chool-cuain
buffalo hide oola-jay
cattle téts’oa
cow téts’oa
deer edochin dó-atn
doe edochin-nen
a deerskin quesoul
octopus ám tchúta
oyster dă’
fish guylera am ám
bird coocho* k’udn
feather coochcam*
feathers humdolucq
bird’s feet cuch-lú
a plover cebé
a lark cout sest aeta
a pelican ammane
a water hen (coot) ouapa
chicken kútně wólya (prarie chicken)
crane kědō’d
a duck coué
duck (canvasback duck) medá-u
cock co(nnuan)guila
hen (connua)-gnen
turkey sam kei(a)solote or sam kei(se)solote
turkey hen samnen
goose lá-ak
egg dáhome
male cat catum
female cat catum-nen
calico kádla
domestic cat gáta (from Spanish)
kitten gáta kwán
a fly camoje
mosquito gă’ or gá’h
turtle chaube* haítnlokn (green turtle)
alligator oñase hókso
serpent, snake aúd
bear ŏ’s
coyote cuba
female coyote cuba-nen
wolf quez, queche badolú
female wolf badolú-nen
young of animal kwā’n
to kill ahúk
dead mál
guts (t)ach*
animal entrails trach-sá*
intestines for sausage? clax ?
bone fechedall*
meat, beef fechi* téts’oa, tétsoa tíkěmai
grass or hay quay awtchzōl
to grow (said of animals and plants) kwān or kw únakwan
Hunting, Tools, and Weapons
a bow crouin gaí
arrow demo (an arrow) děmóa
a knife cousila chela silekáyi
a gun quesoulp
the powder calmel
a musketball quechila-demoux
a cannon esjam
an ax, a hatchet quiaen matchíta
an oyster catcher quojol
a pistol caayuuane
a rope (cord) bachina
an adze (tool used to shape wood) cousilca
a pickax (mattlock) queune
a dart,harpoon, or fish spear cousila
rifle chelacuy ?
gunpowder con-mel kû’nmil
rock or stone cay
iron chelneday*
silver cheledame*
gold chelee-cheman*
hoe or pickaxe chelee-nagut*
to catch haítn
to shoot ódn
to break, to tear táhama
a gimlet (drilling tool) cluny
Food, Cooking, and Smoking
fire pot cocomden coje eun (a mess tin)
a pitcher (jug,jar) cahan
a flask (bottle) quedim
a kettle couquiol
a cask caucouum
a tin (or pewter) plate quesil-acouan koláme (tin bucket [Gatschet questioned “Aztec comalli?”])
a bowl locq
a bucket, pail, or bowl cocq
a grindstone hunca
barrel búdel (from Spanish baril)
frying-pan koláme
food cousilami
to eat, eatable aknámus
meat, beef fechi* téts’oa, tétsoa tíkěmai
an oak acorn calache
biscuit (or hardtack) comjam
bread cocam (fresh bread) cuama-maya kwiamóya (cornbread)
tortilla cuampà
peas and beans coudeche
potato yám
egg dáhome
corn or maize cuayc(un) or (cuayc(em) kwiám (maize)
corn flour ámhătn
molasses téskaus-gllé-i
butter fecha
flour ámhätn
salt quetache
liquid gllé-i
to drink coacaen akwetén
wine debeu
milk schimucim* tesnakwáya
whiskey or brandy liban labá-i
sugar, sweet téskaus
tobacco cahe acanam caje
a calumet (long-stemmed Indian pipe) cadiolle
cigarette ka swénas
cigar caje-tible
to grow (said of animals and plants) kwān or kw únakwan
to pound kássig
to suck énno
hungry ámel
building, camp, Indian village, huts, house, wigwam, lodge, cabin caham (cabin) caha (house) bá-ak
a board quouaham
a mat didaham
to sleep najanana î’m
seat ioyaiene ?
Spanish Religion
church catssé
God dios (from Spanish)
Movement and Ships
a ship elouchoum yualagle awā’n
a canoe, pirogue, dugout, boat, sailing vessel ouhahim awā’n
a paddle for a boat emolouajem
a sail emlamil
a mast enyuesoul
a cane (reed, walking stick) coln
resin or tar couja
to walk (to march or to go) stray
pass from one side to another lon
to arrive gás
at present messús
to fall amóak
to come gás, gá’hs ewé-e, ewé, zankí (to come quick) ewé-e (come, to come quick), ká’-as (come here!)
get away! ähä’mmish snî’n
to hasten, to hurry kóta or zankée or ewé-e
to jump ém
quick! ewé-e or ewē
to run tólos (also means to run fast) zankéye (to run, to hasten, to hasten: See Old Simon’s “to come quick” – zankí
scat! ähä’mmish snî’n (as said to dogs and cats; with a sharp accent)
let us go! or go away! wána
to swim nótawa
to skip ém
to sit, sit down! hákěs háka, tchakwamé (sit down here!)
to push dán
to go
far off wál nia or nyá
to find tchá
to lie down wú-ak
to stand yétso
wide yá-an
Emotion and War
very angry nazerúaza pára
brave fechigua*
coward fechi-chi-salem *
war maché *
peace biase
bad tchuúta
to capture haítn
to strike gá-an
to cause pain kassídshuwakn
to weep owíya
give me! (g)ajuch*
“when you give them what pleases them” baa
to wish
to want
friend aháyika (“the Spanish amigo was more used among them. When wanting to be on good terms with the whites, they preferred the term amigo and said: ‘mucho amigo!”
to laugh kaíta
to love ka
to cherish ka
dear mutá
nice, good plá
want or love qúachel*
I don’t love you mi-qúachals
enemy kóm aháyika
to hate matákia
hostile or hostile enemy kóm aháyika (“the Karankawas called so several of the tribes around them.”)
to hurt, to injure kassídshuwakn
to kill ahúk
dead mál
obnoxious tchúta
dangerous tchúta
powerful, strong wól
tired kwá-al
pretty hamála
to understand kúmna
to know kwáss or kúmna
fine [as in ok] plá
shall we fuck? hachi cooche*
get away! ähä’mmish snî’n
let us go! or go away! wána
I am going to (do etc.) n’tchápn
hush! ähä’mmish! (as said to children)
goodbye atcháta
gone budáma
one nā’tsa
two haíkia
three kazáyi
four háyo háln
five nā’tsa béhema
six háyo haíkia
seven haíkia nā’tsa
eight béhema
nine haíkia dó-atn
ten dó-atn hábe
Social Structures, Ceremony, and Entertainment
whiskey or brandy liban labá-i
Ceremony [mitote Cabeza de Vaca?]
tobacco cahe acanam caje
a calumet (long-stemmed Indian pipe) cadiolle
cigarette ka swénas
cigar caje-tible
music yŏ’ta
to marry mawída
chief hálba
to perform kosáta
black p’al
blue tsō’l
red tamóyika
white péka
Greetings, Time, and Location
“Long ago I spoke” (the language) gaziamétět upā’t
yesterday tuwámka
where? mudá?
yonder nyá
soon messús
to return gás
presently asháhak
past time (in times past) tuwámka upāt (long ago [emphatically upá-ā-āt])
long past budáma wál
now asháhak
future tense tá or tchápn
for a long while mushawáta
far off wál nia or nyá
farewell atcháta!
how do you do? m’ tchá áwa
to converse, to talk, to tell, to say, to say to kaúpn, gaziamétět napé-ni pátsim
after a while messús
all the time mushawáta
Syntax and Sayings
that tál
there nyá
thine or thy áwa
this t;al
too ténno
well (adj) klab;an
no! kóm, kúm kwó-om, kwōm
yes hié-ě
not kóm
mine or my náyi
I náyi or ná-i napé-nai
future tense tá or tchápn
it tál
to do kosáta or káhawan
be or to in detail Oliver Sec
also ténno
always mushawáta
and a a (when used in a sentence) or ténno (also)
much wól
by and by messús
behold tch’a
great yá-an awátchzol
a great deal of, plenty of wól
light [as in daylight or not heavy?] est-day
be on the point of [I believe as in standing “on the point of”] tchápn