Spelling and Pronunciation

Spelling and Pronouncing Coeur d'Alene

Coeur d'Alene has been spelled using at least three different systems - the "Reichard Orthography" (see Reichard 1938), the "Nicodemus Orthography" (see Nicodemus 1975a,b) and the "Salishan Orthography". What we refer to as the Reichard Orthography is a variation of the transcription system used by many linguists and anthropologists trained by Franz Boas at Columbia University in the first half of the 20th century. The Nicodemus Orthography was developed for use by the Coeur d'Alene community. The Salishan Orthography is used by many linguists and anthropologists today to transcribe Coeur d'Alene. You will find it used in contemporary scholarly work about the language. This site is intended to support users who want to use any of these systems.

The list below shows how the symbols used in each of these three systems correspond to each other. Not all of the sounds used in the Coeur d'Alene language are familiar to English speakers, but many of them are. Sounds in Coeur d'Alene that are also found in English words are listed with examples from English so that learners can familiarize themselves with those sounds.

Reichard Nicodemus Salishan English Notes
a a a father
á a á no example 1
b b b bat
tc ch č church
tc' ch' č' no example
ts ts c tsitsi fly
ts' ts' c' no example
d d d dog
ä e ɛ, e egg
ä́ e ɛ́, é no example 1
E,ι, ụ no form ə sofa
gw gw linguini
h h h hello
i i i machine
í i í no example 1
dj j ǰ jar
kw queen
k'ʷ k'w k'ʷ no example
no form kh no form no example 2
khw no example 2
q q q no example
q' q' q' no example
qw no example
q'ʷ q'w q'ʷ no example
qh, no example
x̣ʷ qhw x̣ʷ no example
l l l like
l' 'l l' no example
ɫ ɫ ɫ no example
m m m mom
m' 'm m' no example
n n n now
n' 'n n' no example
ɔ o ɔ, o law
ɔ́ o ɔ́, ó no example 1
p p p pat
p' p' p' no example
r r r far
r' 'r r' no example
R ( ʕ no example 3
R' '( ʕ' no example
ṛʷ (w ʕʷ no example
ṛ'ʷ '(w ʕ'ʷ no example
s s s sun
c sh š shell
t t t tar
t' t' t' no example
u u u Jupiter
ú u ú no example 1
w w w wagon
w' 'w w' no example
y y y yard
y' 'y y' no example
' ' ʔ uh - oh


1. An acute accent is used in the Reichard and Salishan systems to indicate that the vowel is stressed. Underlining is used for this purpose in the Nicodemus system.

2. The symbol 'x' may be used in the Reichard and Salishan systems to write the sound /xʷ/ when it occurs before /u/.

3. Nicodemus 1975a,b uses both '(' and ')' occasionally to write the pharyngeals.

The Phonemic Inventory of Coeur d'Alene

Linguists use the term "phoneme" to refer to a sound that is used to distinguish between words in a particular language. The charts below, adapted from Doak 1997 and Barthmaier 1996, show the consonant and vowel phonemes of Coeur d'Alene, based on the ways in which each is pronounced. We have used the Salishan Orthography to represent these sounds, as we anticipate this resource to be of most use to scholars in linguistics. Students interested in learning how to pronounce Coeur d'Alene might also find these charts useful if they have some background in the study of "articulatory phonetics".

Consonant Inventory (click to see full-sized image)

consonant inventory

Vowel Inventory (click to see full-sized image)

vowel inventory