Twana language

The Twana (təw'ánəxʷ) language, also known as Skokomish from one of the tribes that spoke it, belongs to the Salishan family of Native American languages. It is believed by some elders within the Skokomish community (such as Bruce Subiyay Miller) that the language branched off from Lushootseed (dxwəlšucid) because of the region-wide tradition of not speaking the name of someone who died for a year after their death. Substitute words were found in their place and often became normalizing in the community, generating differences from one community to the next. Subiyay speculated that this process increased the drift rate between languages and separated Twana firmly from xwəlšucid (Lushootseed).

Native toUnited States
RegionEast of Puget Sound, Washington state
Ethnicity350 Twana (1977)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3twa

The last fluent speaker died in 1980.[1]

The name "Skokomish" comes from the Twana sqʷuqʷúʔbəš, also spelled sqWuqWu'b3sH, and meaning "river people" or "people of the river".[2][3][4]

tuwaduqutSid directly translated mean 'Twana Language' as where English would be past3dutSid which means 'English language'.


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
voiced b d d͡z[a] d͡ʒ[a] ɡ[a] ɡʷ[a]
Fricative s ɬ ʃ x[b] χ χʷ h
Sonorant plain m n l j w
glottalized ˀm ˀl ˀj ˀw
  1. ^ a b c d Found in loan words.
  2. ^ The sound [x] is disputed to be a main sound.

Vowel sounds present are [e ɛ ə o a].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Twana at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Bright, William (2004). Native American Placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 452. ISBN 978-0-8061-3598-4. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  3. ^ Wray, Jacilee (2003). "Skokomish: Twana Descendants". Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8061-3552-6. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  4. ^ The Skokomish Tribal Nation
  5. ^ Drachman, Gaberell (1969). Twana Phonology. Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University.

External linksEdit