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Ponca language

Spoken by Ponca Nation (Paⁿka Taⁿwaⁿgthaⁿ)
Thanks to John Koontz for helping me with this language.

Oklahoma edi thagthiⁿ naⁿkʰashe, aho!

[ˈokə̆lahoma ˈedi ɭagə̆ˈɭĩ nãŋˈkʰaʃe, aˈhəw]

(Oklahoma AY-dee thah-GTHEE nah-KAH-shay a-HO!)

There is not a Ponca word for Oklahoma, so the English name would probably be used, although pronounced differently. Aho means "hello", but as a sentence, Aho, Oklahoma! might seem unnatural to a Ponca speaker. Thus the above phrase has been chosen, which means "Greetings to you who live in Oklahoma", or more literally, "Oklahoma there you-sit you-the-sitting, hello!"

Also, as with Kanza and Arapaho, the greeting you use depends both on your gender and that of the person you are speaking to. For a male-to-male greeting, Aho! (hello) is used, but in all other situations, you can use the phrase Eaⁿ niya? [ˈeãːniːja], which means "how are you?"


  • Omaha-Ponca – John Koontz's website about the Ponca language


The following text is written in the LaFlesche orthography.

Di´xe e´goⁿ-biama´. He´gazhi t'a´-biama´. Ga´xthoⁿ athai´ te ha te´ une´. Poⁿ´ka ama´di ahi´-biama´. Te´ wa´thatai te Poⁿ´ka ama´. Ki the´-ma she´toⁿ di´xe iⁿ´choⁿ giniⁿ´ te noⁿpe´hii te Umoⁿ´hoⁿ ama´; uki´gthi'age e´goⁿ moⁿthiⁿ´i te.

–Aⁿpʰaⁿ Taⁿga

Small-pox / they were so, they say. / Not a few / they died, they say. / Migrating / they went / , / buffalo / to hunt. / Poncas / at the / they arrived, they say. / Buffalo / ate them / Poncas / the (sub.). / And / these / that far / small-pox / now / recovered / when / were hungry / Omahas / the (sub.); / indisposed / somewhat / they walked.

–John Big Elk, from "First Battle between the Omaha and Ponca after Death of Blackbird"

(Word-for-word translation)

Source: "First Battle between the Omaha and Ponca after Death of Blackbird." Internet: <http://spot.colorado.edu/~koontz/jod1890/jod059.htm> September 2, 2006. Originally from texts by James O. Dorsey, 1890.

Useful Words and Phrases

  • "Hello!"
    • Male-to-male: Aho!
    • Anytime else: Eaⁿ niya? ("How are you?", usual response is Udoⁿ bthiⁿ, "I'm well")
  • "Thank you" - Wibthahaⁿ


Source: Koontz, John E. "I want to know how to say 'hello', 'goodbye', etc., in ...." Internet: <http://spot.colorado.edu/~koontz/faq/language.htm#phatic> September 2, 2006.

Ponca alphabet

This is the orthography used by the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma.


Labial Dental Alveo-palatal Velar Glottal
Simple Stop b d j g '
Tense Stop p t ch k
Aspirated Stop chʰ
Ejectives p' t' ch'
Voiceless Fricatives s sh x h
Voiced Fricatives z zh gh
Glottalized Fricatives s' sh'
Oral Sonorants w th
Nasal Sonorants m n


Front Back
High Oral i u
High Nasal iⁿ
Mid Oral e
Low Oral a
Low Nasal aⁿ


  • The letter 〈o〉 is phonemically /au/, and phonetically [əw].


Source: Koontz, John E. "Phonology." Internet: <http://spot.colorado.edu/~koontz/omaha/phonology.htm> September 2, 2006.
Oklahoma orthography from personal correspondance.
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