Nooksack language

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Region Whatcom County, Washington
Ethnicity 1,600 Nooksack people (1997)[1]
Extinct 1988, with the death of Sindick Jimmy[1]
Revival 1 fluent L2 speaker in 2010[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nok
Glottolog nook1247[3]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Nooksack language (Lhéchalosem) is a Coast Salish language spoken by the Nooksack people of northwestern Washington state in the United States, centered in Whatcom County.

The Nooksack language belongs to the Coast Salishan family of languages, and has one fluent speaker as of 2010.[2]

Nooksack is most closely related to Squamish, Sháshíshálhem (Sechelt) and Halkomelem, which are all spoken in nearby parts of British Columbia, Canada. Some researchers have questioned whether the Nooksack language is simply a divergent dialect of Halkomelem, but research has proved that Nooksack is in fact a distinct language.[4]

Usage and revitalization efforts

In the 1970s, the Salishan linguist Brent Galloway worked closely with the last remaining native speaker, Sindick Jimmy, who died in 1988. He was compiling a dictionary of the language, and his book, Nooksack place names: geography, culture, and language, appeared in 2011. The Nooksack tribe has offered classes in the language.[5] As of 2010, one fluent speaker remained, a Nooksack tribal member who is part of the Lhéchalosem Teacher Training Language Immersion Project.[5]

Students will spend mornings in language immersion, and afternoons working on special projects, focusing on the language use in one aspect of local native culture such as fishing or crafts. After two years, the students will obtain a certificate similar to an Associate Degree, and after four years they will be fully qualified language teachers, with the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts. The aim is to revive the use of the Lhéchalosem language in all aspects of daily life. The program has an annual budget of $110,000, with 60 percent funded by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and 40 percent funded by the Nooksack Tribe.[2]



The following table includes all the vowel sounds found in the Nooksack language.

Front Central Back
Close i
Mid ɵ, ə o
Open æ


The following table includes all the consonant sounds found in the Nooksack language.

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral plain rounded plain rounded
Stop plain p t k q ʔ
ejective kʷʼ qʷʼ
Affricate plain t͡s t͡ʃ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ɬʼ t͡ʃʼ
Fricative plain s ɬ ʃ x χ χʷ h
ejective ɬʼ
Nasal m n
Approximant plain l j w


(di)graph sound (di)graph sound
a æ qw
ch qw' qʷʼ
ch' tʃʼ s s
e ə sh ʃ
h h t t
i i t'
k k ts t͡s
kw ts' t͡sʼ
kw' kʷʼ tl' t͡ɬʼ
l l u ɵ
lh ɬ w w
lh' ɬʼ x x
m m xw
n n χ
o o x̱w χʷ
p p y j
p' y'
q q ʔ ʔ

In addition, the symbol "ː" indicates long vowels and consonants (e.g. , ). An acute accent (´) is placed on the accented syllable.


  1. ^ a b Nooksack at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b c Adkinson, Brita. "Revitalization project hopes to revive Nooksack language". Foothills Gazette. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nooksack". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ "A Look at Nooksack Phonology on JSTOR". JSTOR 30027696.
  5. ^ a b "Nooksack program revives a nearly extinct language". Canku Ota. 2002-02-23. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  • Nooksack Tribe page
  • Richardson, Allan (2011). Nooksack place names: geography, culture, and language. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 9780774820455.

External links

  • Vocabulary Words in Native American Languages: Nooksack
  • OLAC resources in and about the Nooksack language
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