Lushootseed characters

Here are some of the characters used to represent text in the Lushootseed languages. This is an imperfect representation. There doesn’t seem to be a COMBINING LATIN SMALL LETTER W, so I’m using a second character in these cases. I also can’t find any fonts that render a c with both a caron and a comma.

Ê” – glottal stop
ƛ̕ – barred lamda with comma above, right
á – lower-case a with acute
à – lower-case a with grave
í – lower-case i with acute
ì – lower-case i with grave
č – c with caron
č̓ – c with caron and comma
cÌ• – c with comma above, right
É™ – lower-case schwa
gÊ· – g with raised lower-case w
Ç° – j with caron
kÊ· – k with raised lower-case w
kÌ• – k with comma above, right
kÌ•Ê· – k with comma above, right and raised lower-case w
ɬ – lower-case l with stroke
lÌ• – l with comma above, right
pÌ• – p with comma above, right
qÊ· – q with raised lower-case w
qÌ• – q with comma above, right
qÌ•Ê· – q with comma above, right and raised lower-case w
Å¡ – s with caron
tÌ• – t with comma above, right
ù – u with a grave accent
̼ Рu with an accute accent
wÌ• – w with comma above, right
xÊ· – x with raised lower-case w
x̣ʷ – x with raised lower-case w and dot below
yÌ• – with comma above, right

I’ve checked this in to the University of Washington Linguistics Department’s subversion server. Ping me for credentials if you care.


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14 responses to “Lushootseed characters”

  1. Me either! But folks wouldn’t have to pay for the font to read what you write, you would. They’d just have to buy that font if the wanted to write in Lushootseed on their computers. Still, that’s a lot of money. I wish one of the Lushootseed speaking tribes with casino money would commission someone with calligraphic and computer skills to create various Lushootseed fonts, then make them available as a free download. That certainly would fit in with the Tulalip tribe’s objective of helping develop Lushootseed as a more commonly known and spoken language throughout the Coastal Salish tribal areas. They currently have Lushootseed lessons online. The language becomes a means of handing down the culture from generation to generation. The sound of the original language and the way it’s spoken, can have a subtle yet profound effect on conveying the meanings of traditional stories. Maybe someone should contact them?

    • Heya John,

      Well, if the font were rasterized (say to an image or printed format) then the font would not be needed. However, if the reader was viewing the text in a pdf file for instance, I believe they would require the font. But I’m still kinda’ new to fonts so I’d have to ask my wife about that to be sure.

      As for talking with the Tulalip tribe, I’d be happy to. I’ve been working pretty closely with them for this project. I may be able to build the font set myself and put it up on my website for download.

      Thanks again for the response!


  2. C.J.
    I read where the Tulalip had some fonts made for Lushootseed. I don’t know if it includes commas and carons for “c” like the ones at Juliet Shen from Wisconsin designed the font and The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, agreed to craft each letter from wood. The next step is to make it available as a computer font, and free download so people can compose in Lushootseed on their computers. If you can do that, that’s great. I hope the talks go well. Keep us posted. Thanks.

    • The Lushootseed font that was cut as a wood font by Hamilton is based on a digital font I designed expressly for the Tulalip Tribes of Washington in 2009. Anyone wishing to use the font should contact the Tulalip Lushootseed Department.
      (Also, although Wisconsin is a beautiful state, I reside in Seattle.)

  3. Hello,

    My name is Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir. I’ve been working on Lushootseed for several years, and have been teaching it for over 20. My emphasis is the Southern Dialect. I have a website at where you can download load my font, fontootseed, for free under “Free Download.” There’s also other materials and information. There are also some materials for sale under the E-Shop. Let me know if any of this helps.


  4. Thanks for the link to I downloaded their Mac version of the DÉ™xÊ·lÉ™sÌŒucid font. It works fine in Text Edit. It won’t work at all in Word. On by browser and here it has some glitches. I can copy Vi Hilbert’s Lushootseed Upper Skagit name here: Taqwšəblu. As you can see even that has some alignment problems. When I try and type it directly here using the font, here is what I get: TaqÊ·sscÉ™blu. The s with caron becomes ss. I have a Mac and unfortunately Zamai’s font appears to be available only for the Windows platform. At any rate, I do have a free font and a word processing application that interface well for writing in DÉ™xÊ·lÉ™sÌŒucid. Thanks.–John

    • I spoke with Zalmai last night and we both agreed that his font should have the “supported only by Windows” note removed. It is a TTF font and should work on any system with freetype (this includes OS X). From what I can tell, his font is aimed mostly at mapping Lushootseed characters to the US keyboard to ease the process of typing the language directly. The problem with this approach is that changing the font of a document composed with this particular font will alter the rendering dramatically. Additionally, it is difficult to render both latin characters and lushootseed characters in the same document.

      That said, I expect that a conversion tool could address these issues quite easily. Perl will likely do the trick with a quick one-liner.

      As for Ms. Hilbert’s name, I am able to copy the rendering from the wikipedia page on her and paste it here:


      Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  5. Interesting…the alignment problems I referred to show up in the “enter comment” box, but not in the actual posting on the site.

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