The realisation of coronal obstruents across Hul’q’umi’num’ speakers


  • Sonya Bird University of Victoria
  • Donna Gerdts Simon Fraser University
  • Janet Leonard SFU


The language revitalization movement is growing in Canada, with initiatives currently underway in communities across Canada to develop various kinds of immersion programs: mentor-apprentice programs, language nests, and immersion camps and schools. Although all of these programs emphasize spoken language, virtually no research has been done on pronunciation in the context of language revitalization, e.g. on how pronunciation varies across speakers and on what challenges learners face in becoming proficient speakers. As one small step towards filling this gap, this paper provides a preliminary overview of the pronunciation of a particularly complex set of sounds – coronal obstruents – in the Hul’q’umi’num’ (Island) dialect of Halkomelem (Coast Salish), spoken on Southern Vancouver Island. The goal is to determine how speakers of different generations and fluency levels realize these sounds; in particular, (how) do they maintain the contrasts among the fricatives /th lh s sh/, and among the affricates /tth tth’ tl’ ts ts’/? Detailed acoustic analysis of these sounds, the fricatives and affricates in particular, will contribute to developing our knowledge of phonetic typology, since many of these are quite rare cross-linguistically. In addition, understanding the details of their articulation, and where differences lie between first and second language speakers, will help us to refine the strategies that we use in teaching and learning them, to ensure that the whole set is transmitted to future generations of speakers.


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How to Cite

Bird S, Gerdts D, Leonard J. The realisation of coronal obstruents across Hul’q’umi’num’ speakers. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2016 Aug. 25 [cited 2024 Jul. 22];44(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada