About the Luiseño Language

Cal State San Marcos is located close to the southern edge of the country of the Luiseños, or Payomkawichum, "people of the west." Focused on the San Luis Rey and Santa Margarita rivers, their lands stretch from the vicinity of San Bernardino south to the upper reaches of San Marcos and Escondido creeks. They are called "Luiseño" because they were the principal targets of the missionaries stationed at the San Luis Rey mission after it was established in 1798.

Speakers of the Luiseño language call it "'atáaxum pomtéela," that is, "Indian language." Hundreds of people speak the language, to some degree, but at this time it is not their principal language. 'Atáaxum Pomtéela belongs to the Southern Takic family, which also includes Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Juaneño. The Takic languages belong to the Uto-Aztecan stock, which includes the languages spoken by many of the native peoples of the inland West, including Hopi and, according to many linguists, the Tanoan languages spoken by many other Pueblo peoples, as well as the languages of the ancient urban civilizations of central Mexico.