Alabama (also known as Alibamu) (name in Alabama – Albaamo innaaɬiilka) is a Muskogean language, spoken by the Alabama and Coushatta tribes in Texas. It also used to be spoken by the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Oklahoma, but nowadays there are no native speakers of the Alabama language in this state. Alabama is a part of the Muskogean language family and is considered as closely related to the Muklasa and Tuskegee languages, which are extinct now. It is also related to the Koasati language and more distantly related to Hitchiti, Chickasaw and Choctaw.

Writing system and alphabet

The Alabama writing system is Latin-based.

Alabama alphabet

А а B b Ch ch D d E e F f H h I i
K k L l ɬ M m N n O o P p S s
T t W w Y y

The language has fourteen consonant phonemes. There are only three vowel phonemes — /i o a/ — that can be nasalized in a certain morphological context. Vowels also differ in length. The final syllable is usually stressed, but there are certain exceptions. Also, there is a pitch accent system of rising and falling tones.

Alabama, similar to some other Muskogean languages, is characterized by the use of typologically rare phenomenon — disfixation — to create certain verb forms. For example, there are two principal methods of marking the plurality of verb actions (the so-called pluractionality):

  • In most verbs, the last two segments are omitted in the penultimate syllable of the stem (usually it corresponds to the final syllable of the root). If there are only two segments in the syllable, it drops completely:

balaaka ‘lies down’ — balka ‘lie down’
batatli ‘hits’ — batli ‘hits repeatedly’
cokkalika ‘enters’ — cokkaka ‘enter’

  • In some verbs, only the last consonant of the penultimate syllable of the stem is omitted, while the preceding vowel lengthens instead:

salatli ‘slide’ — salaali ‘slide repeatedly’
noktiłifka ‘choke’ — noktiłiika ‘choke repeatedly’