Cowlitz language

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Native toUnited States
RegionSouthwestern Washington
Ethnicity200 Cowlitz people (1990)[1] As of 2019 over 2,000 and growing
Extinctmaybe 2 speakers in 1990.[1] 1 currently lives in Puyallup, Washington
Revivalthe 110 listed in 2010 census[2] are not native speakers
  • Coast
    • Tsamosan
      • Inland
        • Cowlitz
Language codes
ISO 639-3cow

The Cowlitz language is a member of the Tsamosan branch of the Coast Salish family of Salishan languages.

Cowlitz people[edit]

The Cowlitz people were originally two distinct tribes: the Lower Cowlitz and the Upper Cowlitz. Only the Lower Cowlitz spoke Cowlitz; the Upper Cowlitz, a Sahaptin tribe, spoke a dialect of Yakama.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central sibilant lateral plain lab. plain lab.
plain p t ts k q ʔ
ejective tsʼ tɬʼ tʃʼ kʷʼ qʷʼ
Fricative s ɬ ʃ x χ χʷ h
Sonorant plain m n l j w
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə
Open a


Cowlitz is most similar to Lower Chehalis, another Tsamosan language, although it contains some oddities, such as the word for one, utsus (in contrast to the Lower Chehalis paw).

English Cowlitz
Lower Cowlitz tribe Sł'púlmš
one (number) utsus
two salli
three kałi
four mus
five tsilats
to sing ilani
moon/sun Łuqał
dog kaxa
water kal'l
man siłimx
woman kuwił


  1. ^ a b Cowlitz at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
  2. ^ Cowlitz at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b Kinkade, Marvin Dale (2004). Cowlitz dictionary and grammatical sketch. Missoula, MT: Linguistics Laboratory, University of Montana. pp. 219–224.

See also[edit]