Molala language

Native toUnited States
RegionCentral Oregon and Washington
EthnicityMolala people
with the death of Fred Yelkes (1885–1958)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mbe

Molala (Molele, Molalla) is the extinct and poorly attested Plateau Penutian language of the Molala people of Oregon and Washington. It is first attested along the Deschutes River, and later moved to the Molalla and Santiam rivers, and to the headwaters of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers. It was once thought to be close to Cayuse. There were three known dialects:

  • Northern Molala, spoken in southern Oregon in the Cascade Range
  • Upper Santiam Molala, spoken along the upper Santiam River in the Cascades in central Oregon.
  • Southern Molala, spoken in southern Oregon in the Cascade Range


The phonology of the Molala language:


Bilabial Alveolar Lateral Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive plain p t k q ʔ
Nasal m n ŋ
Affricate plain ts
ejective tsʼ
Fricative ɸ s ɬ x h
Approximant w l j


Short Long
Close i
Open a~e
Back u

/i/ and /a/ can also shift to /ə/.[4]


Molala is a verb-heavy polysynthetic language.


Molala nouns have seven cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, instrumental, locative, allative, and ablative.


  1. ^ Molala at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and ... - Google Books". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Molale". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Berman, Howard (1996). International Journal of American Linguistics Vol. 62, No. 1. The University of Chicago Press. pp. 3–5.

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