|Region||Central British Columbia coast inlet, Douglas Channel head, near Kitimat|
|170 (2011 census)|
The Haisla language or X̄a'’islak̓ala / X̌àh̓isl̩ak̓ala is a First Nations language spoken by the Haisla people of the North Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia, who are based in the village of Kitaamat 10 km from the town of Kitimat at the head of the Douglas Channel, a 120 km fjord that serves as a waterway for the Haisla as well as for the aluminum smelter and accompanying port of the town of Kitimat. The Haisla and their language, along with that of the neighbouring Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv peoples, were in the past incorrectly called "Northern Kwakiutl".
The name Haisla is derived from the Haisla word x̣àʼisla or x̣àʼisəla, meaning 'dwellers downriver”''.
Haisla is closely related to the other North Wakashan languages, Oowekyala, Heiltsuk, Kwak'wala, and to a lesser extent Nuuchahnulth (Nootka), Nitinat, and Makah. The Haisla language consists of two dialects, sometimes defined as sublanguages – C̓imo'c̓a (Kitimaat) (also known as X̅aʼislakʼala - Haisla in the narrower sense) and Gitlo'p (Kitlope) (also known as X̅enaksialakʼala or X̣enaksialak’ala).
Haisla has a wide range of consonants, with the plain plosives being either voiced or voiceless. All aspirated and glottalized plosives in Haisla are voiceless. All fricatives are voiceless as well.
Similar to the other Wakashan languages, Haisla does not have large vowel systems. The vowels seen in the language are [i], [a], [u], [o], [e] and [ə].
Haisla is a VSO (verb-initial) language, with "highly polysynthetic, suffixing, [and] possibly with no (lexical) N–V distinction". Like the other Wakashan languages, Haisla is made up of multifaceted words made up out of a single root and extended through multiple expansions or reduplication. These can further be altered by lexical or grammatical suffixes, and modal clitics. The majority of roots cannot function as independent words; those that can often take on different meanings. One example of this can be seen with the root bek^w, when combined with the stems -es or -ala, mean either 'Sasquatch' or 'talk', respectively.
Seen in all Wakashan languages, Haisla has a variety of common, clause-level clitics which contain inflection-like semantics. Seen also in Spair in Swadesh where they are identified as “incremental suffixes”, these contain markers of tense, aspect, and modality. These clitics are non-obligatory outside of the perfective vs. imperfective aspect, and do not form paradigms, while having a set order.
Haisla has a wide range of classificatory roots, something shared with its fellow Norther Wakashan languages. These roots are always proceeded either by a locative lexical suffix or a transitivizing suffix.
Number and person
Hasila has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, as well as their plurals. Haisla does not have a large focus on number, with the word for begʷánem standing for both 'people' and 'person' depending on its context. Haisla also has inclusive and exclusive endings, in reference to if "we" or "us" includes the person being spoken to. Haisla has gender-neutral pronouns, with no distinction between 'him' and 'her'.
All Northern Wakashan languages display elaborate systems of third-person pronominal clitics. These usually include distinct case forms for object, subject, and instrument or possessor. The subject endings can be seen in the two charts below.
|1sg.||-nugʷ(a)/ -n (-en)||I|
|2pl.||-su (reduplication of verb)||you plural|
|1pl. incl.||-nis||we including you|
|1pl. excl.||-nuxʷ||we excluding you|
|3-1||-ix||he/she/it near me|
|3-1||-ix with reduplication||they near me|
|3-2||-u||he/she/it near you|
|3-gone||-ki/-gi||he/she/it just gone|
|3-1 inv.||-ixc||he/she/it near me invisible|
|3-2 inv.||-uc||he/she/it near you invisible|
|3-3||-ic||he/she/it remote invisible|
|2sg.||-utl(a)||you (singular or plural)|
|1pl. incl.||-entlanis||us including you|
|1pl. excl.||-entlanuxʷ||us excluding you|
|3-1||-ʼix / -ʼex̄g||him/her/it/them near me|
|3-2||-ʼu||him/her/it/them near you|
|3-gone||-ʼex̄gi||him/her/it/them just gone|
|3-1||??-ʼixc*||him/her/it/them near me invisible|
Space, time, and modality
In Haisla, the location of a conversation directly impacts the use of the language. Depending if something occurred at the site of the conversation or far away, verb endings express where the action took place. There are four possible locations within the language: here (near the speaker), there (near you the hearer), there ( near neither the speaker or hearer), and gone (or just gone. The language also distinguishes between things that are seen and known, which are classified as visible. Things that are not visible, instead being imagined or potential, are defined as invisible.
Unique to Haisla is the addition of the optional demonstrative clitics qu and qi, which help make the spatial explicitness of a clause more vivid.
|Demonstrative of||Independent item||Deictic clitic|
- Haisla reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- "The Language". Haisla Nation. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- Emmon, Bach; E. Jelinek, A. Kratzer (1995). "A Note on Quantification and Blankets in Haisla". Quantification in Natural Languages (Kluwer Academic Publishers) 2: 13–20.
- Emmon, Bach (December 2002). "On The Surface Verb q’ay’ai| qela". Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5-6): 531–544.
- Fortescue, Michael (July 2006). "Drift and the Grammaticalization Divide between Northern and Southern Wakashan". International Journal of American Linguistics 72 (3): 295–324.
- Fortescue, Michael. "The Origins of the Wakashan Classificatory Verbs of Location and Handling". Anthropological Linguistics 48 (3): 266–287.
- Bach, Emmon. "MAKING SENTENCES". Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- Lincoln, Neville J. & Rath, John C.. 1986. Phonology, dictionary and listing of roots and lexical derivatives of the Haisla language of Kitlope and Kitimaat, B. C. Vol.1. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.
- Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- The Haisla Languages (Emmon Bach's page)
- Haisla text: Dyeing (as told by Jeffrey L. Legaic) (includes .WAV sound file)
- X̌àʼislakʼala / X̄a’islak’ala (Haisla) (Chris Harvey’s Native Language, Font, & Keyboard)
- Bibliography of Materials on the Haisla Language (YDLI)
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