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The traditional language of Sinixt-Lakes people is called "sn-səlxcin" and is referenced to by linguists as a salishan language known as the Colville-Okanagan language. sn-səlxcin is called “selxcin” by Flathead Salish/Kalispel speakers, as “nselxcin” by people on the Colville reservation and as nsylixcen by speakers in the Okanagan Valley. The names for the language are traditionally based on the land on which they are spoken, since colonization and the relocation of interior Salish families this knowledge is not well known by many today and a more generalized language has been created. The Sinixt dialect is traditionally spoken slower and softer than the other dialects spoken. Sinixt Nation believes that the preservation of our language is important to all Salish people as sn-səlxcin holds knowledge of the teachings for our lands as gifted to us by "kʷeɬencutən" to help skilxʷ/humans survive on our xaʔxáʔ tumxʷulaʔxʷ/sacred mother earth.
We wish to preserve our language with our unique dialectic differences as exactly as we still can no matter how insignificant the pronunciations maybe between the various dialects and we encourage people working to save the language to respect these dialects whenever possible and to honor them. sn-səlxcin is an endangered language and is at risk of being lost forever if serious initiatives are not undertaken by many. This is a difficult task to complete for the Sinixt Nation itself as this undertaking can take an extreme amount of labour and financial resources and we receive no funding to conduct this work from any organizations or groups.
The alphabet and certain symbols linguists use to write sn-səlxcin in latin based texts today is called the American Phonetic Alphabet. As this system was being developed and as communities learned how to use it to translate our languages, the use of different characters/symbols has been utilized over time.
The character for a glottal stop “ʔ” is sometimes seen as a “7.” Some people prefer to use the seven character as the glottal stop as a reminder “to stop and think about seven generations into the future.” Using the “7” character or replacing the “ʷ” character with a normal “w” can be written as it really makes no difference what symbol is used as long as the reader understands the use of the Alphabet, eg. “tmxʷúlaʔxʷ” is the same as “tmxwúla7xw”. It is simply a matter of preference.
Originally there were two versions of the language for Sinixt peoples, one for the men sn-skəlxʷcin/language of humans and one for the women sn-səlxcin/language of water. Both of these dialects were understood by all Sinixt people but reserved for speaking only by the determining sex. Today the language we use is a combination of the two. Elders tell stories of how a young boy who was raise by his grandmothers would be teased by the elder men for talking like a girl. Stories from a long time ago spoke of Sinixt warriors returning home to their villages to hear the women talking down by the river, the warriors went to meet the women by the water but there was NO women to be found..., it was simply the silxʷ/water talking.
We wish to preserve what is left of sn-səlxcin and hope that you do to!
We aim to create teaching aids and activity books for children and adults which will be accessible to all on this website.
limlemt to all the people currently working on preserving sn-səlxcin!
Until we get our language resources and program up and running on the website we encourage anyone who is interested in helping to preserve sn-səlxcin to check out the Enangered Languages Website page for nsəlxcin at: http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/lang/oka/guide
Check back for Sinixt Nation language books for children and beginners as we have initiatives to create our own cultural resource kits for our people.