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Resources on Wakashan languages


This is a collection of links, electronic resources, and other information useful to those studying Wakashan languages.

First Nations and First Nations organizations

Educational institutions


These are some sources that either are, or include, partial bibliographies on Wakashan languages and linguistics. Some can be accessed through the web, and most are described in greater detail in our own bibliography.

Other links


The most important conferences for the study of Wakashan languages are the International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages, and, more recently, the Wakashan Language Conference (see below). Several other regular conferences have a whole or partial focus on North American languages, but few have permanent websites:

The Wakashan Language Conference

The Wakashan Language Conference (WLC) has been held twice so far, in 2004 and 2006, when it was called the Wakashan Linguistics Conference. At WLC 2 in 2006, the participants voted to rename the conference the Wakashan Language Conference.

The International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages

The International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages (ICSNL) has been held every year since 1966. Originally called the International Conference on Salish(an) Languages (ICSL), it got its present name in 1983.


Computer fonts are a particular problem for those working on Wakashan languages. Whereas Wakashan languages typically use more than forty consonants, the English alphabet has only twenty-one consonant letters. Therefore, writing Wakashan languages requires either special spelling conventions, or special symbols (see languages). Wakashan alphabets with special symbols require, in turn, special fonts for word processing and printing.

We highly recommend that anyone processing Wakashan languages by computer use only Unicode fonts, and convert any old materials that were entered in legacy fonts to Unicode. We recommend SIL's Charis font, which is free, is easy to read, and supports italics and boldface.

Legacy fonts

Until recently, the need for special symbols for processing Wakashan languages by computer was usually met with custom-designed fonts that replaced normal symbols with special symbols. For example, symbols for glottalized sounds like p̓ t̓ c̓ k̓ q̓ might take the place of capital letters (P T C K Q), and the barred lambda (ƛ) might take the place of z or R. Such custom fonts are now called legacy fonts.

Legacy fonts have several problems. First, the replaced symbols cannot be used. Second, converting legacy text into another font makes it unreadable. Third, a single document would typically require at least two fonts. But the most serious problem has to do with long-term compatibility. If the legacy font is lost, or, inevitably, becomes incompatible with new software, then the legacy text that was written using that font becomes unusable.

Many different legacy fonts have been used to write Wakashan languages, but some of the more common ones are Myroman, Nootkan Std SIL Doulos, Nuu-chah-nulth (w-coast.ttf), Nuu2, and SIL Doulos IPA 93.


Unicode was created in response to problems with legacy fonts. Unicode is not a font, but an international standard for converting the symbols of all the world's languages into computer codes. For example, the barred lambda (ƛ) is assigned the code 019B, and the glottal stop (ʔ) is 0294. Every Unicode font then interprets 0294 as ʔ, and 019B as ƛ.

As a result, text written using any Unicode font can be converted into any other Unicode font, and still be readable. An entire document can be written in a single font, even if it includes special symbols. And most importantly, information coded in Unicode will remain readable far into the future.

For these reasons, it is highly recommended that anyone processing Wakashan languages by computer use only Unicode fonts, and that any old materials written using legacy fonts be recoded as soon as possible using a Unicode font. For up-to-date information on Unicode, see the site of the International Standards Organization.

Downloading fonts

Two good sources of free, supported Unicode fonts are www.languagegeek.com and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In addition, Microsoft Windows typically comes with at least one Unicode font, Lucida Sans Unicode, which is not very attractive, but can easily be converted later into any other Unicode font.

Installing fonts on your computer

Configuring your browser to display Unicode

last updated January 2010