|Region||West coast of Vancouver Island, from Barkley Sound to Quatsino Sound, British Columbia|
|Ethnicity||7,680 Nuu-chah-nulth (2014, FPCC)|
|130 (2014, FPCC)|
Nuu-chah-nulth (nuu?aan?u?), also known as Nootka , is a Wakashan language in the Pacific Northwest of North America on the west coast of Vancouver Island, from Barkley Sound to Quatsino Sound in British Columbia by the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. Nuu-chah-nulth is a Southern Wakashan language related to Nitinaht and Makah.
It is the first language of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast to have documentary written materials describing it. In the 1780s, Captains Vancouver, Quadra, and other European explorers and traders frequented Nootka Sound and the other Nuu-chah-nulth communities, making reports of their voyages. From 1803-1805 John R. Jewitt, an English blacksmith, was held captive by chief Maquinna at Nootka Sound. He made an effort to learn the language, and in 1815 published a memoir with a brief glossary of its terms.
The provenance of the term "Nuu-chah-nulth", meaning "along the outside [of Vancouver Island]" dates from the 1970s, when the various groups of speakers of this language joined together, disliking the term "Nootka" (which means "go around" and was mistakenly understood to be the name of a place, which was actually called Yuquot). The name given by earlier sources for this language is Tahkaht; that name was used also to refer to themselves (the root aht means "people").
The 35 consonants of Nuu-chah-nulth:
The pharyngeal consonants developed from mergers of uvular sounds; /?/ derives from a merger of /?/ and // (which are now comparatively rare) while /?/ came about from a merger of /q'/ and /q?'/ (which are now absent from the language).
Nuu-chah-nulth vowels are influenced by surrounding consonants with certain "back" consonants conditioning lower, more back vowel allophones
In general, syllable weight determines stress placement; short vowels followed by non-glottalized consonants and long vowels are heavy. In sequences where there are no heavy syllables or only heavy syllables, the first syllable is stressed.
Nuu-chah-nulth has phonemic short and long vowels. Traditionally, a third class of vowels, known as "variable length" vowels, is recognized. These are vowels that are long when they are found within the first two syllables of a word, and short elsewhere.
This section needs expansion with: some details. You can help by adding to it. (December 2017)
Aspects in Nuu-chah-nulth help specify an action's extension over time and its relation to other events. Up to 7 aspects can be distinguished:
|Durative||-(?)ak, -(?)uk, -?i?|
|Graduative||[lengthens the stem's first vowel and shortens its second one]|
|Iterative||R-?, -?, -?|
Where each "-" signifies the root.
Nuu-chah-nulth distinguishes near future and general future:
|General future||Near future|
|=?aq?, =?a:q?||-w?itas, -w?its|
The first two markings refer to a general event that will take place in the future (similar to how the word will behaves in English) and the two other suffixes denote that something is expected to happen (compare to the English going to).
Past tense can be marked with the =mit clitic that can itself take different forms depending on the environment and speaker's dialect:
|Environment||Clitic||Example (Barkley dialect)||Translation|
|Consonant-vowel stem||=mi(t), =nit||waa -> waamit||said|
|Long vowel, /m/, /n/||=mi(t), =nt||saasin -> saasinmit||dead hummingbird|
|Short vowel||=imt, =int, =mi(t), =um(t)||ciiqciiqa -> ciiqciiqimt||spoke|
|Consonant||=it, =mi(t), =in(t)||wiikapu? -> wiikapu?it||passed away|
|=!ap||=mi(t), =in(t), =!amit||hi?=!ap -> hiamit||hosted at|
|=!at||=mi(t), =in(t), =!a:nit, =!anit||waa=!at -> waa?aanit||was told|
Grammatical mood in Nuu-chah-nulth lets the speaker express the attitude towards what they're saying and how did they get presented information. Nuu-chah-nulth's moods are:
|Indefinite relative||=(y)i:, =(y)i?|
|Definite relative||=?i?tq, =?i?q|
|Future imperative||=!im, =!um|
Not counting the articles, all moods take person endings that indicate the subject of the clause.
The Nuu-chah-nulth language contributed much of the vocabulary of the Chinook Jargon. It is thought that oceanic commerce and exchanges between the Nuu-chah-nulth and other Southern Wakashan speakers with the Chinookan-speaking peoples of the lower Columbia River led to the foundations of the trade jargon that became known as Chinook. Nootkan words in Chinook Jargon include hiyu ("many"), from Nuu-chah-nulth for "ten", siah ("far"), from the Nuu-chah-nulth for "sky".
A dictionary of the language, with some 7,500 entries, was created after 15 years of research. It is based on both work with current speakers and notes from linguist Edward Sapir, taken almost a century ago. The dictionary, however, is a subject of controversy, with a number of Nuu-chah-nulth elders questioning the author's right to disclose their language.
Nuu-chah-nulth has 12 different dialects:
Nuuchahnulth had a name for each place within their traditional territory. These are just a few still used to this day: