EthnicityCoos people
Linguistic classificationCoast Oregon Penutian?
  • Coosan
Pre-contact distribution of Coosan languages in Oregon

The Coosan (also Coos or Kusan) language family consists of two languages spoken along the southern Oregon coast. Both languages are now extinct.


Melville Jacobs (1939) says that the languages are as close as Dutch and German. They share more than half of their vocabulary, though this is not always obvious, and grammatical differences cause the two languages to look quite different.

The origin of the name Coos is uncertain: one idea is that it is derived from a Hanis stem gus- meaning 'south' as in gusimídži·č 'southward'; another idea is that it is derived from a southwestern Oregon Athabaskan word ku·s meaning 'bay'.

Frachtenburg was the first major ethnolinguist to address the relatedness of these languages, saying that Hanis and Miluk were dialects of the same "Kusan" language.[1] Melville Jacobs also said that they were two dialects of the same languages; though he did note that Mrs. Annie Miner Peterson said they were in fact distinct languages and that Miluk had two dialects.[2] In 1916 Edward Sapir suggested that the Coosan languages are part of a larger Oregon Penutian genetic grouping. This analysis has been accepted by some.[3]

However, more recent work has placed Hanis and Miluk as both separate languages and part of their own language family,[4] with Douglas-Tavani doing a comparative reconstruction of Proto-Coosan's phonemes and vocabulary [5]



Short /i/ /e/ /a/ /u/ /ə/
Long /i•/ /e•/ /a•/ /u•/ /-/


/ai/ /a*/
/e*/ /o*/

Three Series of Stops

Aspirated /p/, /t/, /c/, /ĉ/, /k/, /kw/, /q/, /ʔ/
Optionally Voiced /b/, /d/, /ɜ/, /g/, /gw/, /ɢ/
Ejectives /pʼ/, /tʼ/, /cʼ/, /kʼ/, /kwʼ/, /qʼ/

Consonants[clarification needed]

Labial Coronal Dorsal Glottal
plain lateral affricate plain labial
Occlusive voice b d d g
voiceless p t ts tc k
ejective tsʼ tcʼ kwʼ
Continuant voice m n l j
voiceless s ɬ c x w h



This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (April 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
  1. ^ Frachtenburg (1914:305)
  2. ^ Jacobs (1940:4)
  3. ^ Delancey and Golla (1997:181)
  4. ^ Mithun (1999:72)
  5. ^ Douglas-Tavani (2021)
  6. ^ Mithum, Marianne (1999). The Languages of Native North America. The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. pp. 396–397.
  7. ^ Mithun, Marianne. The Languages of Native North America. Edited by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Cambridge University Press, 2001.