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Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim
Pronunciation [sqʷχʷuʔməʃ snit͡ʃim]
Native to Canada
Region British Columbia
Ethnicity 4,080 Squamish people (2014, FPCC)
Native speakers
7  (2014, FPCC)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 squ
Glottolog squa1248[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Squamish /ˈskwɔːmɪʃ/[3] (Squamish Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim [sqʷχʷuʔməʃ snit͡ʃim], snichim meaning "language") is a Coast Salish language spoken by the Squamish people of southwestern British Columbia, Canada, centred on their reserve communities in Squamish, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver. An archaic historical rendering of the native "Sḵwx̱wú7mesh" is "Sko-ko-mish" but this should not be confused with the name of the Skokomish people of Washington state. Squamish is most closely related to the Sháshíshálh, Halkomelem, and Nooksack languages. Because the /ʔ/ (glottal stop) character glyph is not found on typewriters and did not exist in most fonts until the widespread adoption of Unicode, the Squamish orthography still conventionally represents the glottal stop with the number symbol "7"; of course, the same character glyph is also used as a digit to represent the number seven.


Part of a series on the
Chief George and daughter.jpgSquamish Pole Raising Ceremony - North Vancouver - 2012.jpg
General information

3,893 approx.



Related peoples

Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Shishalh, Nooksack, Coast Salish

Anthropologists and linguists who have worked on the Squamish language go back to the 1880s. The first collection of words was collected by German anthropologist Franz Boas. During the following decade, anthropologist Charles Hill-Tout collected some Squamish words, sentences and stories. In the 1930s, anthropologist Homer Barnett worked with Jimmy Frank to collect information about traditional Squamish culture, including some Squamish words. In the 1950s, Dutch linguist Aert H. Kuipers worked on the first comprehensive grammar of the Squamish language, later published as The Squamish Language (1967). In 1968, the British Columbia Language Project undertook more documentation of the Squamish language and culture. Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy, the main collaborators on this project, devised the writing system presently used for Squamish.

Use and language revitalization efforts[edit]

Bilingual road sign in Squamish and English languages.

In 1990, the Chief and Council of the Squamish people declared Squamish to be the official language of the Squamish people, a declaration made to ensure funding for the language and its revitalization.[4] As of 2010, the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council considers the language to be "critically endangered" and "nearly extinct", with just 10 fluent speakers.[5] As of 2011, the language is being taught using the "Where are your keys?" technique.[6] A Squamish–English dictionary was completed in 2011.

A Squamish festival was scheduled for April 22, 2013, with two fluent elders.

"The festival is part of a multi-faceted effort to ensure the language's long-term survival, not only by teaching it in the schools, but by encouraging parents to speak it at home, event co-organizer Rebecca Campbell said. Squamish Nation cultural workers, for example, have begun to provide both parents and children with a list of common Squamish phrases that can be used around the home, as a way to reinforce the learning that takes place in the Sea to Sky School District schools, Campbell said. So far 15 families in the Squamish area are part of the program ... 'The goal is to revive the language by trying to have it used every day at home — getting the parents on board, not just the children.'"[7]

As of 2014, a Squamish-language program is available at Capilano University.[8]


The consonant phonemes of Squamish, first in IPA and then in the Squamish orthography:[9]

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
simple affricate lateral plain labialized plain labialized
and affricate
plain /p/ p /t/ t /t͡s/ ts /t͡ʃ/ ch (/k/) (k) /kʷ/ kw /q/ /qʷ/ ḵw /ʔ/ 7
ejective /p’/ p’ /t’/ t’ /t͡s’/ ts’ /t͡ɬ’/ lh’ /t͡ʃ’/ ch’ (/k’/) (k’) /k’ʷ/ kw’ /q’/ ḵ’ /q’ʷ/ ḵw’
Fricative /s/ s /ɬ/ lh /ʃ/ sh /xʷ/ xw /χ/ /χʷ/ x̱w
and approximant
plain /m/ m /n/ n /l/ l /j/ y /w/ w /h/ h
glottalized /m̰/ m’ /n̰/ n’ /l̰/ l’ /j̰/ y’ /w̰/ w’ /ɦ̰/ h’

There are also four vowel phonemes, /a/, /i/, /u/, and /ə/ (spelled respectively a, i, u, and e).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Squamish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Squamish". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. ^ Baker-Williams, Kirsten (August 2006). "Squamish Language Revitalization: From the Hearts and the Minds of the Language Speakers". University of British Columbia. p. 34. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2010". First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council. 2010. p. 64. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  6. ^ Tessa Holloway (October 11, 2011). "Squamish Nation struggles to preserve a threatened language". North Shore News. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  7. ^ Burke, David (2013-04-18). "Squamish language festival set : Skwxú7mesh-speaking elders help inspire effort to ensure tongue's long-term survival". Squamish Chief, Squamish, BC. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  8. ^ Wood, Stephanie (2014-01-22). "Despite limited resources, indigenous-language programs persevere in B.C.". Georgia Straight, Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  9. ^ Dyck (2004: 6, 33)


  • Dyck, Ruth Anne (2004). Prosodic and Morphological Factors in Squamish (Sḵwxwú7mesh) Stress Assignment. Dissertation for University of Victoria. Retrieved online (PDF) on August 14, 2007.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squamish_language — Please support Wikipedia.
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28 news items

North Shore News

Business in Vancouver
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:34:06 -0800

The company is looking to build a natural gas pipeline through Squamish Nation territory as well as a $1.6-billion export plant on a site originally known as Swig'a't (pronounced Sway Ott) in the Squamish language. Under the Squamish process ...

Intercontinental Cry

Intercontinental Cry
Sat, 21 Mar 2015 10:36:19 -0700

In the Vancouver area alone, the two Indigenous languages are considered critical endangered; Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) language has five to seven fluent speakers and hən̓q̓əmin̓əm has one fluent speaker left. Decolonizing Language ...
Squamish Chief
Thu, 18 Apr 2013 00:19:57 -0700

When Alex Williams was growing up, the Squamish language Skwxú7mesh snichim was the only tongue spoken by Williams, his family and fellow Squamish Nation members. When government agents came around the Williams home in the Squamish Valley ...

North Shore News

North Shore News
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:41:15 -0800

Khelsilem, a member of the Squamish Nation, gave a speech on the mountain on Monday — in the Squamish language — asking other protesters to join them. Later in the afternoon Thursday, survey crews for the pipeline company turned up to begin work, ...

Langley AdvanceNews

Langley AdvanceNews
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 07:22:30 -0800

Co-chair of Council, Chief Byron Joseph, welcomed the Stealth in Skwxwú7mesh Snichim (Squamish language), saying “We are proud to stand together with our families and the Vancouver Stealth. Lacrosse has always been an important part of our ...


Sun, 25 Jan 2015 02:01:38 -0800

The trio has committed to staying together for a year, where they practice the Squamish language on a regular basis. Khelsilem says the house is a sort of pilot project for an even bigger initiative, the Skwomesh Language Academy — an immersion school ...


Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:09:50 -0800

Inspired by the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, Campbell, among others, began the immense efforts required to revitalize the Squamish language through community classes, public-school courses, and the creation of a written form of language that ...

North Shore News

North Shore News
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 01:09:12 -0800

"I don't remember ever seeing an Aboriginal person in school except for my Auntie Val and Auntie Vanessa, who taught the Squamish language," he says. Brad's first assignment was working with at-risk Aboriginal kids at the Eslha7an Learning Centre just ...

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