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5 Fascinating Facts About the Comanche Language

Prey, a prequel to the Predator franchise, made history as the first movie entirely dubbed in Comanche, the native language of the Comanche Nation.

After premiering at San Diego Comic-Con, Prey started streaming on Hulu on Friday, August 5, 2022. This movie tells the story of a Comanche warrior trying to protect her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator. Prey was originally planned to be released in Comanche, but it ultimately came out in English to appeal to a wider audience.

However, viewers can stream the full movie in the Comanche language on Hulu.

Producer Jhane Myers, a Comanche and Blackfeet American Indian, said it is a huge accomplishment to get the dubbing even if the movie was released in English.

“The fact it’s getting a full Comanche dub is incredible because being a Comanche, there’s never been a movie in its entirety in my language,” she said in an interview with Digital Spy.

Curious about Prey and the Comanche language? Keep reading to discover 5 fascinating facts about the Comanche language and then plan a movie night to stream this history-making film.

#1. Comanche is a Uto-Aztecan language

The Comanche language is one of the 30 languages included in the Uto-Aztecan language family. These languages were primarily spoken in what is now the western United States and Mexico.

During the 1800s, thousands of people spoke the Comanche language and it was used as the “lingua franca” for the Plains region. Today experts estimate that there are less than 50 fluent speakers of the Comanche language.

#2. The Comanche Code Talkers utilized their language during WWII.

During WWII, 17 men from the Comanche Tribe created an unbreakable code using the Comanche language. Like the Navajo Code Talkers, the Comanche Code Talkers shared information that the enemy could not decipher.

14 of the men served in Europe and all returned home after the war. In 1989, the French government recognized the service of this group by awarding the “Chevalier de L’Order National du Merite.”

#3. The Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee was formed in 1993 to revitalize the language.

In the 19th century, around 20,000 Comanche were thought to live in the Plains. As settlers moved in, fighting and disease led to a drastic decrease in the population. Many Comanche children were removed from their homes and placed in boarding schools where they were only allowed to speak English. These efforts significantly reduced the number of native Comanche speakers.

In 1989, members of the Comanche Nation worked to preserve the language. They undertook a project to record elder speakers of the language.

The Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee was created in 1993 to further advance language preservation efforts. Language classes, word games, camps, and more have since been developed to help teach the Comanche language.

#4.  In 1994, an alphabet was adopted for the written Comanche language.

Comanche originated as an oral language. To support language revitalization efforts, Dr. Alice Anderton, a linguist from Oklahoma, helped create an alphabet for the Comanche language.

Once the alphabet was adopted, books and other written materials were able to be created as teaching tools for the language.

#5. The first syllable is commonly stressed in the Comanche language.

When speaking the Comanche language, emphasis is typically placed on the first syllable in a word. Unlike English, an acute accent mark is used in the Comanche language if a different part of the word should be stressed.

The Comanche language also includes voiceless vowels, similar to whispered vowels in Japanese. These vowels are noted by an underline when written.

Now that you’ve learned more about the Comanche language, spend some time practicing a few Comanche words. You can also watch Comanche language lessons on YouTube videos so you can hear the pronunciations.

Comanche to English

ʉnha hakai nuusuka? = How are you?

tsaatʉ̱, ʉntse? = Fine, and you?

haamee = Please

ʉra = Thank you

nʉ nahnia tsa = My name is

Efforts are being made to revitalize this indigenous language. Dubbing a whole film in Comanche is just one way to introduce this language to a new audience for the first time.

If you are curious about other fascinating languages, check out the ALTA Beyond Words Blog for more.

Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator.
You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.

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