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Coosan languages

EthnicityCoos people
Linguistic classificationCoast Oregon Penutian ?
  • Coosan
Coos langs.png
Pre-contact distribution of Coosan languages

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'.

In 1916 Edward Sapir suggested that the Coosan languages are part of a larger Oregon Penutian genetic grouping. This is currently being investigated. See Coast Oregon Penutian languages.



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/, /G/
Ejectives /p'/, /t'/, /c'/, /k'/, /kw'/, /q'/


Palatal Alveolar Labial Dental Velar Glottal
Plosives g, gw, k, kw, k', kw' d, t, t' b, p, p' - - -
Affricates - s, c - d, ts, tc, ts', tc' - -
Nasal - n m - - -
Lateral - l,ɬ - - - -
Voiced Constinuants - n m - - -
Voiceless Constinuants y s w - x h


  • Glottal Stops are represented by ʔ for subscript epsilon
  • Ejectives raised by an apostrophe (p') can be substituted as exclamation points (p!)
  • Length and gemination are shown by a dot (m•)


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Coosan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Mithun, Marianne. The Languages of Native North America. Edited by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

External links