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Dialect survey of Halkomelem Salish Gerdts, Donna B.


Halkomelem is the language spoken by the Salish Indians of British Columbia whose territory stretches from Nanoose to Malahat on Vancouver Island, from Tsawwassen north to Vancouver on the mainland, and from Vancouver 105 miles up the Fraser River to a point north of Yale. A language with such geographical limits, even if its speakers interacted frequently, would be expected to have regional differences. Elmendorf and Suttles (1960) elicited over 600 items at three locations in the Halkomelem area. Their data from Cowichan, Musqueam, and Chilliwack show that there are phonological, morphological, and lexical differences within Halkomelem. The present study focuses on lexical differences. A list of 150 vocabulary items showing lexical differentiation was elicited at twenty-one locations within the area (Appendix A and B). These data are analyzed to delimit dialect and sub-dialect areas within Halkomelem. The data are also analyzed with reference to cognates in other Salish languages to suggest processes involved in vocabulary change. This paper is organized as follows: Chapter 1 provides information concerning the sub-grouping of Salish languages and delineates the political units within the Halkomelem area. Chapter 2 explains the transcription used for the present data, with some comment on dialectal variation in phonological features. Chapter 3 explains the origin of the 150 word-list employed in this study. Evidence is presented to support the division of Halkomelem into three dialect areas: Island, Downriver, and Upriver. These dialects are further divided into sub-dialects. Chapter 4 examines the Halkomelem data with reference to other Salish languages to suggest three processes involved in vocabulary change: borrowing, derivation of different words from different but semantically related roots, and lexical replacement with concurrent semantic shifting.

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