Salishan Languages

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Salishan Languages


a group of approximately 20 closely related American Indian languages, including Chehalis, Squawmish, Kalispel, Bellacoola, and Coeur d’Alene, spoken on the Pacific coast of Canada and the USA. The Salishan languages are sometimes included hypothetically in an Algon-quian-Wakashan macrofamily.

Phonetically, the Salishan languages are characterized by a simple vowel system (4–6 vowels) and a well-developed consonant system (30–35 consonants), the latter having a two-way or three-way system of oppositions based on the operation of the vocal cords and/or the presence of aspiration. Suffixation is considerably more frequent than prefixation. Stem reduplication is used to form the plural of substantives and the intensive mode of action in verbs. Verb morphology is quite well developed, whereas noun morphology is not. Transitive and intransitive verb conjugations are distinguished according to subject and subject-object principles. Sentence typology is mainly of the ergative type. The usual word order is predicate-subject-object. The vocabulary is characterized by deverbative nouns formed by suffixes or prefixes. Conversion is widely used.


Vogt, H. The Kalispel Language. Oslo, 1940.
Kuipers, A. H. The Squamish Language. The Hague-Paris, 1967.
Kuipers, A. H. The Shuswap Language. The Hague-Paris, 1974.