Guide to using the Siletz Dictionary by Amy Smolek

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Some basic tips

The search function finds exact strings and related results. If you search for ‘salmon’, you will get exact matches first, and then some other related results containing ‘salmon’. If you only know part of a word, you can add an asterisk * after (or before) your search term. For example, ‘heart*’ will return both ‘heart’ and ‘heartily’.

For possessive paradigms, we have tried to keep the plurality consistent across persons so that the entire paradigm will come up when a word is searched for without needing to append an asterisk. This means that sometimes the English statement won't fully make sense (‘their heart’ instead of ‘their hearts’, for example), while other times the plural possessives will have an optional (s) attached (as in ‘their heart(s)’). This is merely a quirk of the dictionary, but since the Siletz singular and plural forms of nouns are the same, you should interpret the English as whatever makes the most sense to you (read ‘their heart’ as ‘their hearts’).

The Talking dictionary is and will be one of the best resources we have in our struggle to keep Siletz Athabaskan alive. - Bud Lane

What is a Talking Dictionary?

A Talking Dictionary is a bi-lingual dictionary with sound files. For this Siletz dictionary, sound files include both the English and the Siletz, to help make identification of terms easier.

How do I use it?

You can input terms in either English or Siletz into the search box, and you will get back a list of relevant results. Most words have sound files corresponding to the entry. The first audio token may take a little while to load, but don't worry, it is working! Subsequent files will be faster to load, so feel free to play around.

Who are the Siletz?

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (CTSI) are a community of Native American tribes, whose territory originally spanned from northern California to southern Washington between the Pacific coast and the Cascade Mountains. After contact with white settlers in the 1850s, the various tribes were gradually removed to a reservation together, now located along the Siletz River in the Central Oregon Coast Range, 15 miles northeast of Newport in Lincoln County.

What is the Siletz language?

The various tribes in the CTSI originally spoke 10 distinct languages, each of which had significant dialectal differences. The only surviving language still spoken on the reservation is Siletz Dee-ni, with one fluent speaker, Bud Lane, from whom most of the tokens in this dictionary come. Siletz is an Athabaskan language, characterized as being polysynthetic (having complex words with a lot of morphology).

Where do the materials come from?

In the words of the Tribe itself:

This Dictionary is a collection of words derived from many works, beginning with the first known audio recordings of our Athabaskan Language, through the many different writing systems that have been used by our own People and others to record and document our words. Because all Languages are constantly growing and changing, this work is a comprehensive attempt to include the similarities and the differences of the known dialects of the Southwest Oregon / Northwestern California Athabaskan Language. A special thanks to all those Ancestors and those still with us today for their work in preserving our Language, without whom this Dictionary would not have been possible.

Sources for our Athabaskan Language Dictionary, Confederated Tribes of Siletz

Special thanks to Ed Ben, Kay Steele, Gilbert Towner, Harry Fuller and Nellie Orton.

Who has worked on the dictionary?

The dictionary has been made possible through funding by the Living Tongues Institute and National Geographic Society, under the leadership of Prof. K. David Harrison at Swarthmore College and Dr. Greg Anderson at the Living Tongues Insitute. People at Swarthmore College who have worked on the dictionary include:

The dictionary would not be possible without the input and knowledge of the members of the CTSI, both past and present, and in particular Bud Lane, who helped build the corpus and dictionary and contributed the vast majority of the audio tokens. We hope that this Talking Dictionary will help preserve this endangered language for future generations and inspire new ways of thinking and interacting with the language.

Email questions, comments, or feedback to Thank you for visiting!
how to cite: 2007. Anderson, Gregory D.S. and K. David Harrison. Siletz Talking Dictionary. Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.