Sechelt language

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Native toCanada
RegionBritish Columbia
Ethnicity1,200 Sechelt people (2014, FPCC)[1]
Native speakers
4 (2014, FPCC)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3sec
ELPShe shashishalhem (Sechelt)
Lang Status 20-CR.png
Sechelt is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The Sechelt language, Sháshíshálh or Shashishalhem (IPA: [ʃáʃíʃáɬəm]), is a Coast Salish language spoken by the Shishalh (Sechelt) people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. It is spoken in the area now called southwestern British Columbia, Canada, centred on their reserve communities in the Sechelt Peninsula area of the Sunshine Coast.

In 1999, the language was spoken by fewer than 40 elderly people.[2] A grammar of the language by linguist Ron Beaumont was published in 1985.[3]

They now only have 7 elderly/fluent speakers, but have many teachers that teach children from preschool all the way through till high school. UBC, Vancouver and Okanagan offers language courses, that give students the opportunity to learn various languages, Shashishalhem being one of the few[4]

In 2014, the Coastal Corridor Consortium, "an entity made up of board members from First Nations and educational partners to improve aboriginal access to and performance in postsecondary education and training", created a Sechelt Nation language certificate.[5]

Sechelt is most closely related to Squamish, Halkomelem, and the Nooksack.

Although critically endangered,[6] the Sechelt people, with help from others, have reclaimed 603 phrases and 5659 words in total.[4]



Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central sibilant lateral plain rounded plain rounded
voiceless p t ts k q ʔ
ejective tsʼ tɬʼ tʃʼ kʷʼ qʷʼ
Fricative s ɬ ʃ x χ χʷ h
Sonorant m n l j w


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid ə
Open a

The four vowel sounds may also have the allophones [æ, ɪ~ʊ~ʌ, e, o].[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sechelt at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Mithun, Marianne (2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 487. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9.
  3. ^ Beaumont, Ron (1985). She Shashishalhem, The Sechelt Language: Language, Stories, and Sayings of the Sechelt Indian people of British Columbia. Penticton, B. C.: Theytus Books.
  4. ^ a b null, null. "she shashishalhem Community Portal". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  5. ^ Wood, Stephanie (January 22, 2014). "Despite limited resources, indigenous-language programs persevere in B.C." Georgia Straight, Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  6. ^ Moseley, Christopher, ed. (2010). Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. Memory of Peoples (3rd ed.). Paris: UNESCO Publishing. ISBN 978-92-3-104096-2. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  7. ^ Beaumont, Ronald C. (2011). Sechelt Dictionary.

External links[edit]