As a result of inroads from French and English speakers, Sitimaxa, the
language of the Chitimacha people of southern Louisiana over the past 7,000
years, lost its last fluent speaker in 1940 at the death of Delphine
Decloux. We are fortune, however, in having wax cylinder recordings of her
speech as well as that of Chief Benjamin Paul, who died in 1934. From these
recordings, gathered by the linguists Morris Swadesh and his wife Mary
Haas, it has been possible to accurately reconstruct both the phonology or
sound system of the language and its grammatical structure.
The author of the present volumes in the three-volume Speaking Sitimaxa
(Chitimacha) series, working directly with Drs. Swadesh and Haas and their
recorded materials, prepared the present grammar, reader, and dictionary of
Mrs. Decloux's and Chief Paul's speech in the late 1930's and the 1940's.
The present volumes cover both a grammar of the language of these last two
fluent users of the language (Volume 1), a selection of carefully edited
and recorded texts of Chief Paul's speech (Volume 2), and a dictionary
prepared by the author in 1948-49 from over 150 native stories dictated by
Chief Paul and Mrs. Decloux (Volume 3).
Topics included in the grammar are: Sounds, Rules of Sound Change, Nouns,
Particles, Verbs, and Making New Words. Through using the three volumes in
the Speaking Sitimaxa series the learner can acquire a solid beginning
knowledge of this now extinct, beautiful and expressive Native American