The Salinan language was spoken in the Salinas River Valley and in the adjacent mountain ranges. In pre-contact times, there were probably between 2000 and 3000 speakers (Kroeber 1925). Today, there are no first-language speakers of Salinan (Golla 2011).
Salinan is an isolate within the hypothesized Hokan language family. This includes, in addition to Salinan, Chimariko, Esselen, Karuk, the Palaihnihan languages (Achumawi and Atsugewi), the Pomoan languages (Central Pomo, Eastern Pomo, Kashaya, Northeastern Pomo, Northern Pomo, Southeastern Pomo, and Southern Pomo), the Shastan languages (Konomihu, New River Shasta, Okwanuchu, and Shasta), Washo, Yana, and the Yuman languages (Cocopa, Kiliwa, Kumeyaay, Maricopa, Mojave, Pai, Paipai, and Quechan).
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- 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]
- Mason, J. Alden. 1918. The language of the Salinan Indians. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 14:1-154. [PDF]
- Sitjar, Buenaventura. 1861. Vocabulario de la lengua de los Naturales de la Misión de San Antonio. (Shea's Library of American Linguistics, Volume 7.) New York: Cramoisy. [PDF]
- Turner, Katherine. 1987. Aspects of Salinan grammar. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.