Comox, also known as K'omoks, Sliammon, or ɬəʔamɛn is a Coast Salish language historically spoken in the northern Georgia Strait region, spanning the east coast of Vancouver Island and the northern Sunshine Coast and adjoining inlets and islands.
It has two main dialects, Island Comox, associated with the Comox Indian Band, and Mainland Comox, associated with the Sliammon, Klahoose and Homalhco peoples. As of 2012, "The Island Comox dialect has no remaining speakers," according to Ethnologue.
- Plain stops and affricates: p, t, θ̂, č, λ, q, qʷ, ʔ --
- Glottalized stops and affricates: pʼ, tʼ, θ̂’, čʼ, λ’, kʼ, kʷʼ, qʼ, qʷʼ --
- Voiced affricate and stop: ǯ, g --
- Voiceless continuants: s, θ, š, ɫ, xʷ, x̩, x̩ʷ, h --
- Resonants: m, n, l, w, y --
- Glottalized resonants: mʼ, nʼ, lʼ, wʼ, yʼ --
- Short vowels: i ([i] to [ɛ]), a, u, ([u] to [ç]), ə --
- Long vowels: i: ([ɛ:]), a:, u: --
- Stress: v́
The phonetic inventory of Comox comprises a large amount of postvelar consonants (e.g. - q, qʷ, ʔ, qʼ, qʷʼ), which compliment the unique identity of the Salish language family as a whole. “Phonetic work on Salish has mainly focused on the properties of uvular pharyngeal, and retracting consonants. This is hardly surprising given that few language families have as extensive postvelar inventories as those found in Salish.” 
"Salishan languages are highly polysynthetic, employing numerous suffixes and reduplication patterns; prefixes and infixes are less numerous. Words often include lexical suffixes referring to concrete physical objects or abstract extensions from them."
Comox has essentially lost all derivational prefixes. It is the only language in the Salish family to have lost the nominalizing prefix s- from its morphological inventory (Kroeber 11). However, the morphologically mirrored –s interestingly serves as a marker for 3rd person possession (Kroeber 111). Hagège has found certain cases where both the prefixive s- and the suffixive -s occur in circumspection. Kroeber is wary to support the finding, but offers the following: "This would appear to be a complex of the nominalizing prefix s- and the third person possessive –s; that is, the third person form of the sort of nominalized construction widely used for subordination in Salish."(Kroeber 115).
In his review of Hagège's Le comox lhaamen de Colombie Britannique: Présentation d'une langue amérindienne, Paul D Kroeber states, "After diminutive CV reduplication, all CVC roots lose their vowel, regardless of what the vowel is." (109) Kroeber gives the following example: wot’-o-t ‘bend it’, wo-wt’-o-t ‘bend it a little bit’ (109).
The affixes representing possession in Comox are much different than those of their Salishan counterparts. 1st person singular (ç-) and plural (ms-) and 2nd person singular (θ-) appear as prefixes, while 2nd person plural (-ap) and 3rd person (-s) appear as suffixes (Kroeber 111).
"Reduplicated counting forms with explicit reference to 'people' can be found in a large number of different Salish languages. All the basic formal shapes of reduplication in Salish (CVC-, CV-, and –VC) may be used to create the 'people' counting forms." (412).
Comox numbers for 'people':
- 1 - pá7a
- 2 - sá7a
- 3 - čálas
- 4 - mus
- 5 - síyačix
- 6 - t’áxam
- 7 - c’o7čis
- 8 - tá7čis
- 9 - tígyixw
- 10 - úpan
Comox employs CV- reduplication to mark its 'people' counting forms (419-420).
- pí-pa7a ('1 person')
- sí-sa7a ('2 people')
“Control [volitional] may be seen as marking the subject of the verb as a prototypical agent: the subject wants the event to occur and has the capabilities that would normally ensure that (s)he could bring about the desired event. Noncontrol [nonvolitional] signals that the subject departs in some way from prototypical agentivity; the event occurs accidentally or is something that the subject did only with difficulty” (Kroeber 155-156).
tʼuçʼ-ut-as shoot-CTr-3Sb ‘he shot it (on purpose), tried to shoot it’
tʼuçʼ-əxʷ-as shoot-NTr-3Sb ‘he shot it (accidentally), managed to shoot it’
The inceptive reduplication of Comox is closely tied to the marking of control. In words like tih ‘big’, -VC reduplicates to create the inceptive form tih-ih ‘get big’. Control is then marked by further affixation: “The CTr suffix regularly has the form –at after –VC” (Kroeber 159).
xʷah-at-uɫ č tih-ih-at-as tell-CTr-Past 1sSb big-VC-CTr-3Sb ‘I told him to make it big’
“The durative is used for activities carried out over an extended period or habitually, such as a means of employment” (Mithun 168). Thus, duratives demonstrate intervallic aspect. Here is an example of a durative in Comox:
xʷuxʷ-mut ʔuɫqʷu long.time-very dig.clams ‘he dug clams for a long time’
“An inceptive prefix can mark the gradual, beginning stages of an event or state” (Mithun 169). In Comox, this is largely achieved through –VC reduplication. The following example illustrates this process:
pəs-əs ‘get numb’ (pəs ‘numb’) tih-ih ‘get big’ (tih ‘big’)
- Comox reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- "Ethnologue report for language code: coo: Comox, Comox-Sliammon, Dialects: Island Comox, Sliammon". Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "FirstVoices Apps". FirstVoices. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "FirstVoices: Sliammon Community Portal". Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Smithsonian Institution Handbook of North American Indians, Vol.7 Northwest Coast, pp.441
- Czaykowski-Higgins et al (1998)
- Smithsonian Institution handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 7 Northwest Coast, pp.33
- Paul D. Kroeber: The Salish Language Family - Reconstructing Syntax (1999).
- International Journal of American Linguistics Vol. 55 No. 1 Jan. 1989.
- International Journal of American Linguistics , Vol. 65, No. 4 (Oct., 1999) , pp. 412-420
- International Journal of American Linguistics , Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr., 1988) , pp. 141-167
- Sapir, Edward (1915). Noun reduplication in Comox, a Salish language of Vancouver island. Ottawa: Government Printing Office.
- Sliammon at First Voices: The ɬəʔamɛn Language group welcomes you
- OLAC resources in and about the Comox language
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