Shoshoni is a member of the Central Numic branch of the Numic language
family of the Uto-Aztecan stock. It was formerly spoken in a broad,
continuous arc extending from southwestern Nevada up through northwestern
Utah and southern Idaho to central Wyoming. There are four generally
recognized dialect complexes–Western Shoshoni, Gosiute, Northern
Shoshoni, and Eastern Shoshoni. Today, the Shoshoni community lives in
colonies and reservations scattered throughout the former range.
Shoshoni is closely related to the Comanche language of Oklahoma.
Shoshoni has an underlying obstruent system which consists of voiceless
stops /p, t, k, kw/, two voiceless fricatives /s, h/, and a voiceless affricate
/ts/, but a surface phonetic system that includes voiced and voiceless stops,
fricatives, and affricates in all the places of articulation of the underlying
stops and affricates. Nominals in Shoshoni are inflected for three cases and
for singular, dual, and plural number. Shoshoni aspect and tense are reflected
as suffixes on the verb stem and there is a large set of instrumental prefixes
that can be prefixed as well. Adverbial relations are marked by postpositions.
Shoshoni word order is relatively free, although there is a marked tendency
toward SXV. Subordinate clauses in Shoshoni are marked for same reference
of subjects or for switch reference of subjects.