Structure dataset 74: Chinuk Wawa

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 74.

Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon was spoken in Oregon, Washington, much of British Columbia, and after the mid-nineteenth century also parts of Idaho, southeastern Alaska and the far northwest of California. A knowledge of the language declined rapidly after World War II but several enthusiasts have learnt it from books and remaining speakers since the 1960s. The default lect used in this database is that which is attested in most of the available data on the language from c. 1840 onwards, and represents a variety which has spread in all directions from the mouth of the Columbia River, where it probably originated at an as yet unestablished time and which has been used by speakers of all ethnicities. Structurally and lexically it is fairly stable (apart from increasing relexification from English), although few sources capture the complexity of the phonological system with which it was spoken by many Native Americans and maybe some others. Hale (1890) documents much of the lexicon; the texts in Jacobs 1936 not collected from Victoria Howard and also Boas (1933) represent some of the narratives produced.

Grand(e) Ronde CW developed at Grand Ronde Reservation, Oregon in the late 19th century and its speakers continued having contact with speakers of Chinookan languages. Nativized in a multilingual setting, it differed phonologically and especially morphologically and lexically from the default lect; as of 2010, one speaker remained, though it is being passed on to tribal members. Confederated Tribes (2011) is a comprehensive account of the language, and the texts from Victoria Howard in Jacobs 1936 also represent this variety. Data from both these lects are presented where possible and where they differ.

Glossed text (65.4KB, application/pdf)
No. Feature Value lect Details Source
No. Feature Value lect Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p   b t   d k    kʼʷ kʰʷ g q    qʰʷ qʼʷ ʔ
Sibilant affricate t͡s t͡sʰ t͡sʼ t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰ t͡ʃʼ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative f x  χ χʷ h
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate  tɬʼ
Lateral fricative ɬ
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel long high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel long high back rounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel long low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value lect Details Source