Coosan languages

The Coosan (also Coos or Kusan) language family consists of two languages spoken along the southern Oregon coast. Both languages are now extinct.

EthnicityCoos people
Linguistic classificationCoast Oregon Penutian ?
  • Coosan
Coosan map.svg
Pre-contact distribution of Coosan languages in Oregon


Melville Jacobs (1939) says that the languages are as close as Dutch and German. They share more than half of their vocabulary, though this is not always obvious, and grammatical differences cause the two languages to look quite different.

The origin of the name Coos is uncertain: one idea is that it is derived from a Hanis stem gus- meaning 'south' as in gusimídži·č 'southward'; another idea is that it is derived from a southwestern Oregon Athabaskan word ku·s meaning 'bay'.

In 1916 Edward Sapir suggested that the Coosan languages are part of a larger Oregon Penutian genetic grouping. This is currently being investigated. See Coast Oregon Penutian languages.



SHORT /i/ /e/ /a/ /u/ /ə/
LONG /i•/ /e•/ /a•/ /u•/ /-/


/ai/ /a*/
/e*/ /o*/

Three Series of StopsEdit

Aspirated /p/, /t/, /c/, /ĉ/, /k/, /kw/, /q/, /ʔ/
Optionally Voiced /b/, /d/, /ɜ/, /g/, /gw/, /G/
Ejectives /p'/, /t'/, /c'/, /k'/, /kw'/, /q'/

Consonants[clarification needed]Edit

Labial Coronal Dorsal Glottal
plain lateral affricate plain labial
Occlusive voice b d d g gw
voiceless p t ts tc k kw
ejective p' t' ts' tc' k' kw'
Continuant voice m n l j
voiceless s ɬ c x w h


  • Glottal Stops are represented by ʔ for subscript epsilon
  • Ejectives raised by an apostrophe (p') can be substituted as exclamation points (p!)
  • Length and gemination are shown by a dot (m•)


  1. ^ Mithum, Marianne (1999). The Languages of Native North America. The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. pp. 396–397.
  2. ^ Mithun, Marianne. The Languages of Native North America. Edited by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

External linksEdit