St̓át̓imcets / Sƛ̓aƛ̓imxǝc
Ucwalmícwts / Lil̓wat7úlmec
Native toCanada
RegionBritish Columbia
Ethnicity6,670 St̓át̓imc (2014, FPCC)[1]
Native speakers
315 (2016)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3lil
ELPSt̓át̓imcets (Lillooet)
Lillooet is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Lillooet /ˈlɪlɛt/, known in the language itself as St̓át̓imcets / Sƛ̓aƛ̓imxǝc ([ˈʃt͡ɬʼæt͡ɬʼjəmxət͡ʃ]), is the language of the St’át’imc, a Salishan language of the Interior branch spoken in southern British Columbia, Canada, around the middle Fraser and Lillooet Rivers. The language of the Lower Lillooet people uses the name Ucwalmícwts,[3] because St̓át̓imcets means "the language of the people of Sat̓", i.e. the Upper Lillooet of the Fraser River.

Lillooet is an endangered language with around 580 fluent speakers, who tend to be over 60 years of age.[4]

Regional varieties

St̓át̓imcets has two main dialects:

Upper St̓át̓imcets is spoken around Fountain, Pavilion, Lillooet, and neighboring areas. Lower St̓át̓imcets is spoken around Mount Currie and neighboring areas. An additional subdialect called Skookumchuck is spoken within the Lower St̓át̓imcets dialect area, but there is no information available in van Eijk (1981, 1997) (which are the main references for this article). A common usage used by the bands of the Lower Lillooet River below Lillooet Lake is Ucwalmicwts.

The "Clao7alcw" (Raven's Nest) language nest program at Mount Currie, home of the Lil’wat, is conducted in the Lil̓wat language and was the focus of Onowa McIvor's Master's thesis.[5]

As of 2014, "the Coastal Corridor Consortium— an entity made up of board members from First Nations and educational partners to improve aboriginal access to and performance in postsecondary education and training— ... [has] developed a Lil’wat-language program."[6]



St̓át̓imcets has 44 consonants:

Analysis of van Eijk (1997)
Bilabial Dental Postalv.
Velar Post-
central lateral retracted
plain retracted plain labial plain labial
Stop plain p t t͡ʃ t͡ʂ k q
glottalized t͡sʼ t͡ɬʼ kʷʼ q͡χʼ q͡χʷʼ ʔ
Fricative ɬ ʃ ʂ x χ χʷ
Nasal plain m n
glottalized ˀm ˀn
Approximant plain z l j ɰ ɰʷ ʕ ʕʷ h
glottalized ˀl ˀḻ ˀj ɰʼ ɰʷʼ ʕʼ ʕʷʼ


St'at'imcets has 8 vowels:

Front Central Back
retracted non-
retracted non-
High e ⟨e⟩ ɛ ⟨e̠⟩ o ⟨o⟩ ɔ ⟨o̠⟩
Mid ə ⟨ə⟩ ʌ ⟨ə̠⟩
Low ɛ ⟨a⟩ a ⟨a̠⟩

Phonological processes

Post-velar Harmony (retraction):

ama "good" /ʔáma/ + /-ɣʷéˀlx/ /ʔamaɣʷéˀlx/ [ʔɛmɛɣʷél̰x] amawíl’c  "to get better"
qvḻ "bad" /qʌḻ/ + /-ɣʷéˀlx/ /qʌḻɣʷé̠ˀḻx/ [qaɫɣʷɛ́ɫ̰x] qvḻwíiḻʼc  "to get spoiled"


There are two orthographies,[7] one based on Americanist Phonetic Notation that was developed by the Mount Currie School and used by the Lillooet Council, and a modification by Bouchard that is used by the Upper St̓át̓imc Language, Culture and Education Society.[8] The latter orthography is unusual in that /tɬʼ/ is written ⟨t̓⟩, but it is preferred in many modern Lillooet-speaking communities.[9]

Phoneme Orthography
/e/ i
/o/ u
/ə/ ǝ e
/ɛ/ a
/ɛ/ ii
/ɔ/ o
/ʌ/ ǝ̣ v
/a/ ao
/p/ p
/pʼ/ p’
/t/ t
/tɬʼ/ ƛ’
/tʃ/ c ts
/tʃˠ/ ṯs̱
/tsʼ/ c’ ts̓
/k/ k
/kʷ/ kw
/kʼ/ k’
/kʷʼ/ k’ʷ k̓w
/q/ q
/qʷ/ qw
/qχʼ/ q’
/qχʷʼ/ q’ʷ q̓w
/ʔ/ ʔ 7
/ʃ/ s
/x/ x c
/xʷ/ cw
/χ/ x
/χʷ/ x̌ʷ xw
/m/ m
/ˀm/ m’
/n/ n
/ˀn/ n’
/ɬ/ ɬ lh
/z/ z
/zʼ/ z’
/ɣ/ ɣ r
/ɣʷ/ w
/ɣʼ/ ɣ’
/ɣʷʼ/ w’
/ʕ/ ʕ g
/ʕʷ/ ʕʷ gw
/ʕʼ/ ʕ’
/ʕʷʼ/ ʕ’ʷ g̓w
/h/ h
/j/ y
/ˀj/ y’
/l/ l
/ˀl/ l’
/ˀḻ/ ḷ’ l̠̓


St'at'imcets has two main types of words:

  1. full words
    1. variable words
    2. invariable words
  2. clitics
    1. proclitics
    2. enclitics

The variable word type may be affected by many morphological processes, such as prefixation, suffixation, infixation, reduplication, and glottalization.

St̓át̓imcets, like the other Salishan languages, exhibits predicate/argument flexibility. All full words are able to occur in the predicate (including words with typically 'nouny' meanings such as nk̓yap 'coyote', which in the predicate essentially means 'to be a coyote') and any full word is able to appear in an argument, even those that seem "verby", such as t̓ak 'go along', which as a noun, is equivalent the noun phrase 'one that goes along'.[10]

Sentence T̓ak ti nk̓yápa.
Morphemes t̓ak ti- nk̓yap -a
Gloss go.along DET- coyote -DET
Parts Predicate Subject
Translation The/a coyote goes along.
Sentence Nḱyáp ti t̓aka.
Morphemes nk̓yap ti- t̓ak -a
Gloss coyote DET- go.along -DET
Parts Predicate Subject
Translation The one going along is a coyote.


St̓át̓imcets, as is typical of the Salishan family, has several types of reduplication (and triplication) that have a range of functions such as expressing plural, diminutive, aspect, etc.

    Initial reduplication:
    kl̓ácw 'muskrat' kl̓ekl̓ácw 'muskrats' Plural
    stálhlec 'standing up' státalhlec 'to keep standing up' Continuative (has s- prefix, stem: -tálhlec)
    sráp 'tree' srepráp 'trees' Collective/Plural (stem: -rap)
    snúk̓wa7 'friend/relative' snek̓wnúk̓wa7 'friends/relatives' Collective/Plural (stem: -núk̓wa7)
    Final reduplication/triplication:
    p̓líxw 'boil over' p̓líxwexw 'boiling over' Ongoing Action
    p̓líxw 'boil over' p̓lixwixwíxw 'to keep boiling over' Continuative/Intensive
    lhésp 'rash' lhéslhsep 'rash all over' Collective/Plural (stem: lhes-) (the e before -p is epenthetic)

A more complicated type of reduplication is the internal reduplication used to express the diminutive. In this case the consonant before a stressed vowel is reduplicated after the stressed vowel and usually the vowel then changes to e (IPA: [ə]). Examples are below:

    Internal reduplication:
    naxwít 'snake' naxwéxwt 'worm' (naxwé-xw-t)
    sqáxa7 'dog' sqéqxa7 'pup' (sqé-q-xa7)
    sqláw̓ 'beaver' sqlélew̓ 'little beaver' (sqlé-l-ew̓) (the extra e here is an epenthetic vowel)

More than one reduplicative process can occur in a given word:

  Diminutive Plural+Diminutive
    sqáxa7 'dog' sqéqxa7 'pup' sqexqéqxa7 'pups'
    s-qáxa7   s-qé-q-xa7   s-qex-qé-q-xa7  

St’át’imcets has several other variants of the above types. Reduplication is further complicated by consonant glottalization (see van Eijk (1997) for details).

Mood and modality

The subjunctive mood appears in nine distinct environments, with a range of semantic effects, including:

The St̓át̓imcets subjunctive also differs from Indo-European subjunctives in that it is not selected by attitude verbs.

St̓át̓imcets has a complex system of subject and object agreement. There are different subject agreement paradigms for transitive vs. intransitive predicates. For intransitive predicates, there are three distinct subject paradigms, one of which is glossed as 'subjunctive' by van Eijk (1997) and Davis (2006)

Sample text

The following is a portion of a story in van Eijk (1981:87) told by Rosie Joseph of Mount Currie.


Nilh aylh lts7a sMáma ti húz̓a qweqwl̓el̓tmínan. N̓as ku7 ámlec áku7 tsípunsa. Nilh t̓u7 st̓áksas ti xláka7sa. Tsicw áku7, nilh t̓u7 ses wa7, kwánas et7ú i sqáwtsa. Wa7 ku7 t̓u7 áti7 xílem, t̓ak ku7 knáti7 ti pú7y̓acwa. Nilh ku7 t̓u7 skwánas, lip̓in̓ás ku7. Nilh ku7 t̓u7 aylh stsuts: "Wa7 nalh aylh láti7 kapv́ta!" Nilh ku7 t̓u7 aylh sklhaka7mínas ku7 láti7 ti sqáwtsa cwilhá k̓a, nao7q̓ spawts ti kwanensása...

International Phonetic Alphabet:

/neɬ ɛjɬ lʧʔɛ ˈʃmɛmɛ te ˈhoˀzɛ qʷəqʷˀləˀltˈmenɛn. ˀnɛʃ koʔ ˈɛmləx ˈɛkoʔ ˈʧeponʃɛ. neɬ tɬʼoʔ ˈʃtɬʼɛkʃɛʃ te ˈχlɛkɛʔʃɛ. ʧexʷ ˈɛkoʔ neɬ tɬʼoʔ ʃəʃ ɣʷɛʔ ˈkʷɛnɛʃ ətˈʔo e ˈʃqɛɣʷʧɛ. ɣʷɛʔ koʔ tɬʼoʔ ˈɛteʔ ˈχeləm tɬʼɛk koʔ ˈknɛteʔ te ˈpoʔˀjɛxʷɛ. neɬ koʔ tɬʼoʔ ˈʃkʷɛnɛʃ lepʼeˀnˈɛʃ koʔ. neɬ koʔ tɬʼoʔ ɛjɬ ʃʧoʧ ɣʷɛʔ nɛɬ ɛjɬ ˈlɛteʔ kɛˈpʌtɛ neɬ koʔ tɬʼoʔ ɛjɬ ʃkɬɛkɛʔˈmenɛʃ koʔ ˈlɛteʔ te ˈʃqɛɣʷʧɛ xʷeɬˈɛ kʼɛ naʔqχʼ ʃpɛɣʷʧ te kʷɛnənˈʃɛʃɛ/

English translation:

This time it is Máma I am going to talk about. She went that way to get some food from her roothouse. So she took along her bucket. She got there, and she stayed around, taking potatoes. She was doing that, and then a mouse ran by there. So she grabbed it, she squeezed it. So she said: "You get all squashed now!" So she opened her hand and she let go of what turned out to be a potato, it was a rotten potato that she had caught...


  1. ^ Lillooet language at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census". Statcan. Statistics Canada. 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  3. ^ BCGNIS listing "Perrets Indian Reserve" - one of seven references in BCGNIS to "Ucwalmícwts"[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "2021 Canadian Census".
  5. ^ McIvor, Onowa. Language Nest Programs in BC. Early childhood immersion programs in two First Nations Communities. Practical questions answered and guidelines offered (PDF). Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  6. ^ Wood, Stephanie (January 22, 2014). "Despite limited resources, indigenous-language programs persevere in B.C." Georgia Straight, Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Ucwalmícwts / St̓át̓imcets / Sƛ'aƛ'imxǝc (Lillooet)".
  8. ^ "USLCES Lillooet BC WebPage a Native Culture site". Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  9. ^ "Líl̓wat on FirstVoices".
  10. ^ Cable, Seth. Lexical Categories in the Salish and Wakashan Languages (PDF). Retrieved November 20, 2013.