The Nuuchanulth Language

Nuuchanulth is spoken on the West coast of Vancouver Island.

The indigenous name is /nuʧa:nʔuɬ/ "all along the mountains", of which Nuuchanulth is an anglicization. This term was created in 1978 by the tribal council, the West Coast Allied Tribes. Prior to this, there was no indigenous name for the language or its speakers as a whole, only for individual subgroups. The usual English name Nootka refers to one of the areas in which the language is spoken, Nootka Sound and Nootka Island. These place names themselves are not indigenous. The most likely explanation for the name is that Captain Cook misunderstood a Nuuchanulth person's description of a boat circling about /nu:tka:/ as the name of the place.

Nuuchanulth has a number of dialects, some of whose names are not infrequently used in place of that of the language as a whole. These include: Chickliset, Hupacasath (also spelled Opetchesaht and Opitchesaht), Kyuquot, and Tsheshaht.

Nuuchanulth is a Wakashan language.


Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2009