Siuslaw language

Siuslaw /sˈjslɔː/[2] was the language of the Siuslaw people and Lower Umpqua (Kuitsh) people of Oregon. It is also known as Lower Umpqua; Upper Umpqua (or simply Umpqua) and is currently considered to be a language isolate.[3] The Siuslaw language had two dialects: Siuslaw proper (Šaayušƛa) and Lower Umpqua (Quuiič).[4]

Lower Umpqua
Šáayušƛa / Qúuiič
Native toUnited States
EthnicitySiuslaw people
Language codes
ISO 639-3sis
Siuslaw lang.png
Pre-contact distribution of Siuslaw

Siuslaw is usually considered to belong to the Penutian phylum, and may form part of a Coast Oregon Penutian subgroup together with Alsea and the Coosan languages.[5]


Published sources are by Leo J. Frachtenberg who collected data from a non-English-speaking native speaker of the Lower Umpqua dialect and her Alsean husband (who spoke it as a second language) during three months of fieldwork in 1911,[6][4][7] and by Dell Hymes who worked with four Siuslaw speakers in 1954.[8]

Further archived documentation consists of a 12-page vocabulary by James Owen Dorsey,[9] a wordlist of approximately 150 words taken by Melville Jacobs in 1935 in work with Lower Umpqua speaker Hank Johnson,[10] an audio recording of Siuslaw speaker Spencer Scott from 1941, hundreds of pages of notes from John Peabody Harrington in 1942 based on interviews with several native speakers,[11] and audio recordings of vocabulary by Morris Swadesh in 1953.



Labial Alveolar Lateral Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p t k ʔ
Affricate ts
Fricative s ɬ ʃ x h
Nasal m n
Approximant w l j

Cluster of stops/affricates + glottal stop are realized as ejective consonants [pʼ tʼ tɬʼ tsʼ tʃʼ kʼ].


Vowels are noted as /i æ a u ə o/.[8]


  1. ^ Grant, A.P. (1997). "Coast Oregon Penutian: Problems and Possibilities". International Journal of American Linguistics. 63 (1): 144–156. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". United States Forest Service. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Campbell, Lyle (January 2019). "How many Language Families are there in the world?". International Journal of Basque Linguistics and Philology. 1 (2): 133–152. doi:10.1387/asju.20195. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  4. ^ a b Frachtenberg, Leo Joachim; Franz Boas; Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology (1917). Siuslawan (Lower Umpqua): an illustrative sketch. Govt. Printing Office. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  5. ^ Grant, A. (1997). Coast Oregon Penutian: Problems and Possibilities. International Journal of American Linguistics, 63(1), 144-156.
  6. ^ Frachtenberg, Leo. (1914). Lower Umpqua texts and notes on the Kusan dialect. In Columbia University contributions to Anthropology (Vol. 4, pp. 151–150).
  7. ^ Frachtenberg, Leo. (1922). Siuslawan (Lower Umpqua). In Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 2, pp. 431–629).
  8. ^ a b Hymes, Dell. (1966). Some points of Siuslaw phonology. International Journal of American Linguistics, 32, 328-342.
  9. ^ Dorsey, James Owen. (1884). [Siuslaw vocabulary, with sketch map showing villages, and incomplete key giving village names October 27, 1884]. Smithsonian Institution National Anthropological Archives.[1]
  10. ^ Melville Jacobs papers, 1918-1978, University of Washington Special Collections, Seattle WA.
  11. ^ Harrington, John P. 1942. "Alsea, SIuslaw, Coos, Southwest Oregon Athapaskan: Vocabularies, Linguistic Notes, Ethnographic and Historical Notes." John Peabody Harrington Papers, Alaska/Northwest Coast. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

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