Salish Languages

Donna B. Gerdts

in Linguistics

ISBN: 9780199772810
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Salish Languages

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The Salish language family consists of twenty-three languages spoken in southwestern Canada and the northwestern United States. The languages are classified into five branches: Bella Coola; Central Salish (Comox, Halkomelem, Klallam, Lushootseed, Nooksack, Northern Straits, Pentlatch, Sechelt, Squamish, Twana); Tsamosan (Lower Chehalis, Upper Chehalis, Cowlitz, Quinault); Interior Salish (Northern Interior Salish: Lillooet, Shuswap, Thompson; Southern Interior Salish: Coeur d’Alene, Columbian, Kalispel, Okanagan); and Tillamook. There are two outlier languages: Bella Coola in British Columbia is the northernmost, and Tillamook in Oregon is the southernmost. The Central Salish languages form a chain of ten languages along the Salish Sea. The four Tsamosan languages are located along the coast of the state of Washington. The Interior Salish languages are spoken in the plateau area east of the Cascade Mountains in British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This branch is divided into Northern and Southern Interior subbranches. Pentlatch, Nooksack, Twana, Tillamook, and the Tsamosan languages are no longer spoken, and the other Salish languages are endangered or near extinction. Fortunately, most tribes or bands have revitalization programs and plans for preserving their languages. There is a robust amount of information on many of the languages, and a legion of scholars is currently actively engaged in research on all aspects of the languages. Besides research focusing on primary documentation and the production of grammars, dictionaries, and texts, much theoretically informed analysis has been done on Salish languages.

Article.  9264 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Language Families ; Psycholinguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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