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St'at'imcets (also Lillooet, Lilloet, St’át’imcets; pronounced ) is an Interior Salishan language spoken in southern British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker around the middle Fraser and Lillooet rivers by the St'at'imc people. The dialect of the Lower Lillooet people uses the name Ucwalmícwts as St'at'imcets properly means "the language of the people of Sat', i.e. the Upper Lillooet of the Fraser River.

St'at'imcets is an endangered language with as few as 200 native speakers practically all of whom are over 60 years of age (Gordon 2005).

Regional varieties

St'at'imcets has two main dialects:

  • Upper St’at’imcets (a.k.a. St’aá’imcets, Fountain)
  • Lower St’at’imcets (a.k.a. Lil'wat7úlmec, Mount Currie)

Upper St'at'imcets is spoken around Fountain, Pavilionmarker, Lillooetmarker, and neighboring areas. Lower St'at'imcets is spoken around Mount Currie and neighboring areas. An additional subdialect called Skookumchuck is spoken within the Lower St'at'imcets dialect area, but there is no information available in van Eijk (1981, 1997) (which are the main references for this article).



St'at'imcets has 44 consonants:

  Bilabial Dental Postalv.

Velar Post-
central lateral retracted

plain retracted plain labial plain labial
Plosive and

plain p t   t͡ʃ t͡ʂ k q  
glottalized t͡sʼ t͡ɬʼ   kʷʼ q͡χʼ q͡χʷʼ ʔ
Fricative     ɬ ʃ ʂ x χ χʷ  
Nasal plain m n          
glottalized ˀm ˀn          
Approximant plain   z l j ɣ ɣʷ ʕ ʕʷ h
glottalized   ˀl ˀḻ ˀj ɣʼ ɣʷʼ ʕʼ ʕʷʼ  

  • Obstruents consist of the stops, affricates, and fricatives. There are 22 obstruents.
  • Sonorants consist of the nasals and approximants. There are 22 resonants.
  • Glottalized stops are pronounced as ejective consonants. Glottalized sonorants are pronounced with creaky voice: = .
  • The glottalized consonants of St'at'imcets contrast not only with plain consonants, but also with sequences of plain consonant + glottal stop, or glottalized consonant + glottal stop, in either order. This holds for both the obstruents and the sonorants: ≠ ≠ ≠ ≠ ≠ and ≠ ≠ ≠ ≠ ≠ .
  • The dental approximants are pronounced alternatively as interdental fricatives or as dental fricatives , depending on the dialect of St'at'imcets.
  • There are four pairs of retracted and nonretracted consonants (which alternate morphophonemically). Retraction on consonants is essentially velarization, although additionally, nonretracted is phonetically laminal while retracted is apical . (Note also that St'at'imcets has retracted-nonretracted vowel pairs.)
  • Among the post-velar consonants, the obstruents are all uvular while the approximants are all pharyngeal.


St'at'imcets has 6 vowels:

  Front   Back
retracted non-
retracted non-
High e   [e]   [ɛ]   o   [o]   [ɔ]
Mid   ə   [ə] ə̱   [ʌ]  
Low   a   [ɛ]   [a]  

  • The phonetic realization of the phonemes are indicated in brackets to the right.
  • All retracted vowels are indicated by a line under the vowel. These retracted vowels alternate morphophonemically. (Note that St'at'imcets also has retracted consonants.)
  • The non-retracted vowel /a/ ranges from . Since retracted /e̱/ and non-retracted /a/ can both pronounced , there is often phonetic overlap.

Phonotactics of roots


The following table shows the vowels and consonants and their respective orthographic symbols.

Phoneme Orthography Phoneme Orthography
/e/ i ii
/o/ u o
/ə/ e v
/a/ a ao
/p/ p /m/ m
/pʼ/ /ˀm/
/t/ t /n/ n
/tɬʼ/ t’ /ˀn/
/tʃ/ ts /ɬ/ lh
/tʃˠ/ ts̲ /z/ z
/tsʼ/ ts̓ /zʼ/
/k/ k /ɣ/ r
/kʷ/ kw /ɣʷ/ w
/kʼ/ /ɣʼ/
/kʷʼ/ k̓w /ɣʷʼ/
/q/ q /ʕ/ g
/qʷ/ qw /ʕʷ/ gw
/qχʼ/ /ʕʼ/
/qχʷʼ/ q̓w /ʕʷʼ/ g̓w
/ʔ/ 7 /h/ h
/ʃ/ s /j/ y
/ʃ̱/ /ˀj/
/x/ c /l/ l
/xʷ/ cw /ḻ/
/χ/ x /ˀl/ l’
/χʷ/ xw /ˀḻ/

Phonological processes

Post-velar Harmony (retraction):

  • Within roots, there is a restriction that all consonant and vowel retracted-nonretracted pairs must be of the same type. That is, a root may not contain both a retracted and a nonretracted vowel or consonant. This is a type of Retraced Tongue Root harmony (also called pharyngeal harmony) involving both vowels and consonants that is an areal feature of this region of North America, shared by other Interior Salishan and non-Salishan languages (for example see Chilcotin vowel flattening).

  • In addition to the root harmony restriction, some suffixes harmonize with the root to which they are attached. For instance, the inchoative suffix -gwil’c:

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St'at'imcets has two main types of words:

  1. full words
  1. variable words
  2. invariable words
ama "good"
+ /-ɣʷélʼx/
 "to get better"
 "to get spoiled"
  1. proclitics
  2. enclitics

The variable word type may be affected by many morphological processes, such as prefixation, suffixation, infixation, reduplication, and glottalization.

  • question of category of noun


St’át’imcets, as is typical of the Salishan family, has several types of reduplication (and triplication) that have a range of functions such as expressing plural, diminutive, aspect, etc.

A more complicated type of reduplication is the internalreduplication used to express the diminutive. In this case the consonant before a stressed vowel is reduplicated after the stressed vowel and usually the vowel then changes to e(IPA: [ə]). Examples are below:

More than one reduplicative process can occur in a given word:

St’át’imcets has several other variants of the above types. Reduplication is further complicated by consonant glottalization (see van Eijk (1997) for details).


The following is a portion of a story in van Eijk (1981:87) told by Rosie Joseph of Mount Currie.


English translation:

This time it is Máma I am going to talk about. She went that way to get some food from her roothouse. So she took along her bucket. She got there, and she stayed around, taking potatoes. She was doing that, and then a mouse ran by there. So she grabbed it, she squeezed it. So she said: "You get all squashed now!" So she opened her hand and she let go of what turned out to be a potato, it was a rotten potato that she had caught....


External links


  • Frank, Beverley, Rose Whitley, and Jan van Eijk. Nqwaluttenlhkalha English to Statimcets Dictionary. Volume One. 2002. ISBN 189671918X
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  • Joseph, Marie. (1979). Cuystwí malh Ucwalmícwts: Ucwalmícwts curriculum for beginners. Mount Currie, B.C.: Ts’zil Publishing House. ISBN 0-920938-00-0.
  • Larochell, Martina; van Eijk, Jan P.; & Williams, Lorna. (1981). Cuystwí malh Ucwalmícwts: Lillooet legends and stories. Mount Currie, B.C.: Ts’zil Publishing House. ISBN 0-920938-03-5.
  • Lillooet Tribal Council. (1993). Introducing St'at'imcets (Fraser River Dialect): A primer. Lillooet, British Columbia: Lillooet Tribal Council.
  • Matthewson, Lisa, and Beverley Frank. When I was small = I wan kwikws : a grammatical analysis of St'át'imc oral narratives. First nations languages. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005. ISBN 0774810904
  • Poser, William J. (2003). The status of documentation for British Columbia native languages. Yinka Dene Language Institute Technical Report (No. 2). Vanderhoof, British Columbia: Yinka Dene Language Institute. (2003 updated version).
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1981). Cuystwí malh Ucwalmícwts: Teach yourself Lillooet: Ucwalmícwts curriculum for advanced learners. Mount Currie, B.C.: Ts’zil Publishing House. ISBN 0-920938-02-7.
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1985). The Lillooet language: Phonology, morphology, syntax. Amsterdam: Universiteit van Amsterdam.
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1988). Lillooet forms for 'pretending' and 'acting like'. International Journal of Linguistics, 54, 106-110.
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1990). Intransitivity, transitivity and control in Lillooet Salish. In H. Pinkster & I. Grenee (Eds.), Unity in diversity: Papers presented to Simon C. Dik on his 50th birthday (pp. 47-64). Dordrecht, Holland: Foris.
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1993). CVC reduplication and infixation in Lillooet. In A. Mattina & T. Montler (Eds.), American Indian linguistics and ethnography in honor of Laurence C. Thompson (pp. 317-326). University of Montana occasional papers in linguistics (No. 10). Missoula: University of Montana.
  • van Eijk, Jan P. (1997). The Lillooet language: Phonology, morphology, syntax. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 0-7748-0625-7. (Revised version of van Eijk 1985).
  • Williams, Lorna; van Eijk, Jan P.; & Turner, Gordon. (1979). Cuystwí malh Ucwalmícwts: Ucwalmícwts curriculum for intermediates. Mount Currie, B.C.: Ts’zil Publishing House. ISBN 0-920938-01-9.

Initial reduplication:
'standing up'
'to keep standing up'
(has s- prefix, stem: -tálhlec)
(stem: -rap)
(stem: -núk’wa7)
Final reduplication/triplication:
'boil over'
'boiling over'
Ongoing Action
'boil over'
'to keep boiling over'
'rash all over'
(stem: lhes-) (the e before -p is epenthetic)
Internal reduplication:
'little beaver'
(the extra e here is an epenthetic vowel)

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