Practice Point


English Translation: Granny
Part of Speech: noun
Language: Sliammon (ɬəʔamɛn)

This week’s word is a kinship term meaning “granny” which comes from the Sliammon/Tla’amin (ɬəʔamɛn) language. This language is classified as (Central) Salish and is spoken mainly on the Sunshine Coast, just north of Powell River, British Columbia. According to the Tla’amin Nation,

“Thanks to the ongoing efforts of a handful of people and many of Sliammon’s Elders, close to 4000 words have been documented so far. Linguists have commented that it takes approximately 20,000 words to save a language leaving plenty of work remaining in identifying and documenting the remainder of the language.”

The ɬəʔamɛn people had most of their primary settlements in Theodosia, Desolation Sound, the Coast of the Malaspina Straight, Powell River (Tiskw’at), and many islands within the Strait of Georgia. First Voices notes that

“Coastal Aboriginal people were struck with waves of contagious diseases such as influenza, measles, small pox, tuberculosis. It was during this time that all aspects of the Tla’Amin language, culture, history, knowledge was threatened and almost extinct! Very few people survived, let alone capable of fighting long and hard enough to effectively pass their knowledge onto their children. By the turn of the century, ɬəʔamɛn, Klahoose, Homalco’s numbers were less than 300 individuals, approximately 50% of them under the age of 18. The mandatory residential school system had already been in effect for more than 40 years, and the punitive powers of the ‘Oblates or Black Robes’ were at their highest. All of these things combined to almost annihilate the Coast Salish traditional knowledge, beliefs, and practices.”

The Tla’amin people have been fighting to regain their rights and language for years. In 2014, the Tla’amin Final Agreement was signed, which is a treaty and a land claims agreement within the meaning of sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. To view the final agreement, click here.

Signing the 2014 Tla’amin Final Agreement (image source: http://www.tlaaminnation.com/gallery/2014-signing-ceremony-tlaamin-final-agreement/)

Did you know?

You can get a Word of the Day in this language on your Facebook feed! Learn more here.

To find out more about the Sliammon language and Peoples, click here.
To download the language learning app (hosted by First Voices) on iTunes, click here.


We acknowledge that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.