Chemakum language

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Native toOlympic Peninsula, Washington
Extinct3 imperfect speakers in 1890[1]
  • Chemakum
Language codes
ISO 639-3xch
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The Chemakum language (/ˈɛməkʌm/; also written as Chimakum or Chimacum) was spoken by the Chemakum, a Native American group that once lived on western Washington state's Olympic Peninsula. It was very similar to the Quileute language, the only surviving Chimakuan language. In the 1860s, Chief Seattle and the Suquamish people killed many of the Chimakum people. In 1890, Franz Boas found only three speakers, and they spoke it imperfectly.[1] A few semi-speakers continued until the 1940s on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula, between Port Townsend and Hood Canal.

The name Chemakum is an anglicization of the Salishan name for the Chimakum people, perhaps old Twana čə́mqəm (currently čə́bqəb [t͡ʃə́bqəb]).


Chemakum had three vowels, long and short, and lexical stress. It had the following consonants. (Note the unusual lack of plain velar consonants.)

Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Uvular Glottal
central lateral plain labial
Nasal m n
Plosive plain p t q ʔ
ejective kʷʼ qʷʼ
Affricate plain t͡s t͡ʃ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ɬʼ t͡ʃʼ
Fricative s ɬ ʃ χ χʷ h
Approximant l j w

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ruby, Robert H.; John Arthur Brown (1992). A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 22–23, 28. ISBN 9780806124797.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chimakum". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.