1020 pages, 6 x 9
20 b&w photos, 1 table
Release Date:15 Apr 2015

Tellings From Our Elders: Lushootseed syeyehub

The Complete Two-Volume Set

UBC Press

Rich in cultural and linguistic information, the traditional stories of the Coast Salish people form a portal through which rich cultural and linguistic information is passed from generation to generation. Called syeyehub in the Lushootseed language, they are among the most valued oral traditions of the Indigenous people of the southern and eastern shores of Puget Sound – and today, these stories contain the keys to cultural revitalization.

Published in two handsome volumes, Tellings from Our Elders presents twenty-seven stories in Lushootseed – eighteen in the Snohomish dialect and nine in Skagit River dialects – as told by members of the last generation to claim the language as their mother tongue. Many of these stories were recorded decades ago, but few were transcribed, and even fewer analyzed. Deep understanding of the structure and logic of these texts has eluded linguists and younger generations. In this landmark study, David Beck and Thom Hess examine the structure of the language, the richness of the grammar, and the narrative stylistics of these important texts.

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 each volume book gives non-linguists some insight into the specialized terminology used in the analysis, making the texts accessible to the layperson.

These volumes are certain to be an invaluable resource for scholars and a tool for those who want to ensure that Lushootseed is used 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.

Volume I

Foreword / Tulalip Tribes Lushootseed Department


Language / Texts / Transcription and analysis / Transcription practices / Presentation / Acknowledgments /

1 seswixab Martha Williams Lamont

Pheasant and Raven / The Brothers of Pheasant's Wife / Changer / Owl Lives There / Little Diver Is the Wife of Heron / Crow Is Sick (First Telling) / Crow Is Sick (Second Telling) / Basket Ogress / Mink and Tutyika (First Telling) / Mink and Tutyika (Second Telling) / Coyote and His Daughter / Coyote's Son Had Two Wives

2 Elizabeth Charles (Charley) Krise

Lady Louse / First Version / Second Version

3 s?adacut Edward “Hagan” Sam

Black Bear and Ant / Black Bear and Fish Hawk / Coyote and the Big Rock / Mink and Tutyika

4 lalacut Agnes Jules James

Basket Ogress

Glossary; References     



Volume II

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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