Quileute Language
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Quileute Language
Native toUnited States
RegionOlympic Peninsula, Washington
Ethnicity500 Quileute (2007)[1]
  • Quileute
  • Hoh
Language codes
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Quileute ,[2] also known as Quillayute , was the last Chimakuan language, spoken until the end of the 20th century by Quileute and Makah elders on the western coast of the Olympic peninsula south of Cape Flattery at La Push and the lower Hoh River in Washington state, United States. The name Quileute comes from k?o?lí·yot' [k?o?lé:jot'], the name of a village at La Push.

Quileute is famous for its lack of nasal sounds, such as [m], [n], or nasal vowels, an areal feature of Puget Sound.[3] Quileute is polysynthetic and words can be quite long.

Use and revitalization efforts

There were ten elderly speakers in 1977, and "a few" in 1999.[4] The Quileute Nation is attempting to prevent the loss of the language by teaching it in the Quileute Tribal School, using books written for the students by the tribal elders.

[In 2007], the Tribal Council set up a two-year Quileute Revitalization Project with the goal of encouraging the use of Quileute words and phrases in everyday village life. A basic vocabulary of greetings, questions, numbers, names of things, and "one-liners" in Quileute were made available to tribal members and staff through informal classes, email and computer CDs.[5]


Quileute has three vowels, /e/, /a/, /o/ long and short (pronounced [e]~[i]~[?]~[?], [a]~[?], [o]~[u] when short and in non-tonic syllables),[6] as well as /æ:/ which only occurs long. Stress is historically penultimate, though this has become somewhat obscured and is no longer predictable. There are no nasal consonants. It has the following consonants (t and ? are rare):

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
plain lateral plain labialized plain labialized
Plosive voiceless p t k k? q q? ?
ejective p' t' k' k?' q' q?'
voiced b d ?
Affricate plain t?s t t
ejective t?s' t' t'
Fricative s ? ? x x? ? h
Approximant l j w


Quileute features a prefix system that changes depending on the physical characteristics of the person being spoken of, the speaker, or rarely the person being addressed.[7] When speaking of a cross-eyed person, /t-/ is prefixed to each word. When speaking of a hunchback, the prefix /t?s'-/ is used. Additional prefixes are also used for short men (/s-/), "funny people" (/tk-/), and people that have difficulty walking (/t-/).[8][7]

See also


  1. ^ a b Quileute at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  3. ^ Mithun, Marianne (2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9.
  4. ^ Mithun, The Languages of Native North America
  5. ^ "Quileute Nation - Language". Retrieved .
  6. ^ Powell, James W. (1990). Quileute. Wayne Suttles (ed.), Northwest Coast: Washington: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 431-437.
  7. ^ a b c Frachtenberg, Leo J. (December 1920). "Abnormal Types of Speech in Quileute". International Journal of American Linguistics. 1 (4): 296-297. doi:10.1086/463728. JSTOR 1263204. Most affixes and forms representing an abnormal type of speech are used either by the speaker himself or by another person speaking of the individual whom such a speech-form intends to single out. In few cases only is the abnormal form used in direct address, the reason for this being too apparent to require any comment. [pp. 296-297]
  8. ^ Mithun, Marianne (1999). The Languages of Native North America, p. 275. Cambridge University Press. (Citing Frachtenberg 1920 (her 1920b),[7] but misattributing to "Frachtenberg 1917": Mithun's bibliography includes many of his other works, including a 1917a and 1917b, both on other topics.)

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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