Shuswap (Secwepemctsín)

Shuswap is a Salishan language spoken in central and southern British Columbia in Canada, mainly between the Fraser River and the Rocky Mountains. In 2014 there were about 200 native speakers of Shuswap, another 1,190 people understood or spoke it to some extent, and 1,140 were learning it. Most of the native speakers are elderly. The community with the largest number of speakers and learners was Esk’etemc by Alkali Lake.

Shuswap is also known as Secwepemc or Secwepemctsín, and there are two dialects Eastern Shuswap and Western Shuswap.

Efforts to revitalize the language include classes for children and adults, and the production of a dictionary, grammar and other learning materials. In 1991 a school where children are taught Shuswap through immersion was set up near the town of Chase by Shuswap Lake. Shuswap language classes have been offered at Thompson Rivers University since 2013.

There are several ways to write Shuswap, including a spelling system devised and used by Aert H. Kuipers, a Dutch linguist, in his 1974 book, The Shuswap Language. Another was devised by Randy Bouchard of the British Columbia Language Project. There is also a spelling system ursed by the Shuswap Language Department.

Shuswap alphabet (Kuipers)

Shuswap alphabet and pronunciation


Download an alphabet chart for Shuswap (Excel)

Hear the sounds of Shuswap:

Sample text in Shuswap (Bouchard spelling system)

Wʔéx k°əx° mtnʔúq̓wy mck̓lép ltwtwwíwtəs méʔe. Yγíʔ γscúns k°əx° lx̌péʔes lck̓éwlx: «X°úy̓ meʔ néskt tsp̓stwéx°mstm meʔ qít̓mkt mk̓°úlmkt tkswéwλ, meʔ k̓éxmkt». Yγíʔ γsq°əcécs k°əx° lx̌péʔes, kícx k°əx° nx̌yúm tpésəλk°e sp̓stwéx°mstm. Kícx k°əx° lx̌péʔes, yγíʔ lx̌péʔes k°əx° γck̓éwlx yγíʔ γsk°éns lsménxs, yγíʔ γsnínk̓ms, yγíʔ γsxpəq̓°qín̓ms.

Source: Hunting and Fishing with Grandfather by Seymour Petel

Sample text in Shuswap (Kuipers spelling system)

Wellenwi7kt, re s7esk’etemc te Secwepemc re senxeteqs te qelmucw ne Esk’etemculúcw. Re s7esk’etemc tskwenstes re xwexweyte to stem ne Esk’etemculúcw. Ta7k tsk’wen te Kupementk stq’ey’s es kencitels te stsenq’yel’k’s re tmicwkt ell re ctk’wenm7iple7tenkt.

Re s7esk’etemc ri7 Kupkukpi7 ell nek’westutmens re stk’ wenm7iplem’es elksentsuts. M ta7k skllekstmentem es kecmentem re stsenq’yel’k’s re tmicw, re sewllkwe ell xwexweyt re stem ne Esk’etemculúcw, ell re stk’wenm7iple7kt ne tmicw. Re Tqeltkukpi7 kectels te stk’wenm7iple7tem es yucwemintem, es 7elksentem ell es lecekstmentem re tmicw, re sewllkwe ell xwexweyt to stem ne Esk’etemculúcw ne Qelmucw ey te st’7ek. Te stsutkt ri7 le q7eses te stkwenm7iple7 te skukpi7stem, te smelcetwecw ell te qemqemt te sw7ec, yiri7 re stkwenm7iple7s re tmicw.


We, the Esk’etemc, of the Secwepemc Nation are the Original people of Esk’etemcúlucw. Esk’etemc hold collective title and rights to Esk’etemculúcw, no elected governments have authority to infringe our title lands or on our communal rights.

As a sovereign and self-governing People, Esk’etemc declares our right to self-determination. We have never ceded, surrendered or given up our sovereign title and rights over the lands, waters and resources within Esk’etemcúlucw, nor the exercise of our laws on the lands. Our rights and responsibilities are laws, which were given to us by the Tkel Kukpi7 to protect, maintain and enhance the lands, waters and resources within Esk’etemcúlucw for future generations.

Source: Esk’etemc Declaration of Title & Rights

Sample videos in and about Shuswap

Information about Shuswap | Numbers


Information about Shuswap

Shuswap learning resources

Salishan languages

Coeur d'Alene, Comox, Halkomelem, Klallam, Lushootseed, Lillooet, Nooksack, Nuxalk, Okanagan, Saanich, Salish, she shashishalhem, Shuswap, Squamish, Nlaka’pamux (Thompson)

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 14.07.23


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