Cowlitz Coast Salish Pronunciation Guide

This pronunciation guide is here to help you pronounce all of the sounds of Cowlitz Coast Salish, as written in M. Dale Kinkade’s Cowlitz alphabet. The letters are organized alphabetically, and are not grouped by sound type as you might have seen in other dictionaries. You can tap any of the 42 letters along the top bar; you may have to scroll it along as they don’t all fit at once.

Each letter’s entry here has the Cowlitz Coast Salish letter, the Cowlitz Coast Salish letter name in parentheses, and a series of example recordings of Emma Mesplie and Lucy James saying words that contain the letter.

The example words are organized by context, showing each sound in every place in a word it can appear in; i.e., at the beginning, at the end, between vowels, and before and between other different kinds of sounds. Some sounds in this pronunciation guide (lʼ, mʼ, nʼ, wʼ, yʼ, and all vowels) are never found at the beginning of a full Cowlitz Coast Salish word. Tap the to play audio recordings of the Elders saying each word.

Notes on the Cowlitz alphabet

The Cowlitz words in this book come directly from M. Dale Kinkade’s Cowlitz Dictionary and Grammatical Sketch. All of these words were directly elicited by Dale Kinkade from two Cowlitz speakers, Emma Mesplie and Lucy James. The spelling system used in this book is slightly different from the one found in Dale Kinkade’s work, and the changes we made are explained in the following paragraphs.

Long vowels, originally written in Dale Kinkade’s dictionary as iˑ, eˑ, əˑ, aˑ, oˑ, and uˑ, are written here as double vowels (ii, ee, əə, aa, oo, uu). When long vowels are accented, the accent is placed over the first letter of the pair (íi, ée).

Apostrophes are written to the right of all glottalized and ejective consonants. This includes kʼʷ, q’ʷ, and ƛʼ, which Kinkade spells with the apostrophe above the letter.

Although they are included in Dale Kinkade’s dictionary, the letters b, d, g, and have been removed from the official Cowlitz alphabet. These letters are only found in four words in Kinkade’s dictionary, and both words were borrowed from other languages. While those four words will still be included in the Cowlitz database, putting those specific letters in an official Cowlitz alphabet would grant them historical significance they do not possess.

Some English letters do not exist in the Cowlitz alphabet, since the sounds they stand for are never used in the language. In addition to b, d, g, and j, which were mentioned above, the letters f, r, v, and z are not found in Cowlitz.