Tellings from Our Elders
404 pages, 6 x 9
13 illustrations
Release Date:15 Apr 2015
Release Date:15 Apr 2015

Tellings from Our Elders

Lushootseed syeyehub, Volume 2: Tales from the Skagit Valley

UBC Press

Oral stories form a portal through which rich cultural and linguistic information is passed from generation to generation. Traditional stories, called syeyehub in the Lushootseed language, are among the most valued oral traditions of the Coast Salish people of the southern and eastern shores of Puget Sound.

Tellings from Our Elders, Volume 2, presents nine stories told in the Skagit River dialects of the Lushootseed language, transcribed from recordings of the last generation of Elders who learned Lushootseed as an exclusive mother tongue. As a collection, they open a doorway not only to important cultural knowledge but also to the specialized vocabulary and patterns of narrative stylistics typical of Coast Salish storytelling.

Each story is presented in an interlinearized format with full morpheme-by-morpheme glosses and English translations. This format makes explicit the structure of the language and illustrates the richness of Lushootseed grammar as it is used in context. A glossary at the end of the book gives non-linguists some insight into the specialized terminology used in the analysis, making the texts accessible to the layperson. This book is an invaluable tool for those who want to ensure that Lushootseed is spoken by generations to come.

This collection will be of interest to linguists, typologists, aficionados of oral narrative, and speakers and learners of Lushootseed and other Coast Salishan languages.

As excellent examples of a specifically linguistic form of textual presentation, these volumes definitely achieve what they have set out to do. As such, they are not books that one would pick up simply to read the stories. Nevertheless, it is possible to discern that the stories are rich in teachings, [and] that they are beautifully told … Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, University of Victoria, BC Studies

David Beck is a professor of linguistics at the University of Alberta who specializes in typology and morphosyntactic description, lexicography, language documentation, and Mesoamerican historical linguistics. He has worked extensively on Lushootseed archival materials and conducted fieldwork on Upper Necaxa Totonac, a minority language of Mexico. The authors of many journal articles on these two languages, Beck has also produced the Upper Necaxa Totonac Dictionary (2011). He is currently the North American editor of the book series Brill’s Studies in the Indigenous Languages of the Americas and co-editor, with Donna Gerdts, of the International Journal of American Linguistics.

Thom Hess (1936-2009) was a professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria who worked extensively on the Salishan and Wakashan languages of Vancouver Island and northwestern Washington State. In addition to publishing extensively in the academic domain, he dedicated much of his career to the production of materials with practical and pedagogical applications for speaker communities, including the Dictionary of Puget Salish, the Lushootseed Dictionary (with Dawn Bates and Vi Hilbert), and the three-volume Lushootseed Reader series.

Foreword | Jay Miller


1 Susie Sampson Peter

Star Child

2 Dora Solomon

Star Child

3 Mary Willup

Star Child

4 Harry Moses

Star Child | How Daylight Was Stolen

5 Louise Anderson

Basket Ogress

6 Martin Sampson

Basket Ogress

7 Dewey Mitchell

Basket Ogress

8 Alice Williams

Basket Ogress

Glossary of Terms


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