The Chalon language was traditionally spoken along Chalone Creek to the east of the Salinas River. During the mission period, Chalon was spoken at Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. Other dialects were potentially spoken along the upper San Benito River as well. The language is only attested in wordlists from the nineteenth century and the fragment of a catechism. In pre-contact times, there were approximately 900 speakers of Chalon (Levy 1978).
Chalon is an Ohlone (or "Costanoan") language, along with Awaswas, Chochenyo, Karkin, Mutsun, Ramaytush, Rumsen, and Tamyen. The Ohlone languages comprise one branch of the hypothesized Penutian language family, within which they form a subgroup with the Miwokan languages (Central Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Plains Miwok, Saclan, and Southern Sierra Miwok). Penutian also includes Klamath-Modoc, the Maiduan languages (Konkow, Maidu, and Nisenan), the Wintuan languages (Nomlaki, Patwin, and Wintu), and the Yokuts languages.
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Heizer R. F., ed. 1952. California Indian linguistic records: The Mission Indian vocabularies of Alphonse Pinart. University of California Anthropological Records 15:1-84. [PDF]
- Heizer, R.F., ed. 1955. California Indian linguistic records: The Mission Indian vocabularies of H. W. Henshaw. University of California Anthropological Records 15:85-202. [PDF]