The Sm’algya̱x language is spoken in north-western British Columbia, in and around the area of the lower Skeena river and surrounding islands. It is a member of the Tsimshian language family, most closely related to Southern Tsimshian. The orthography presented here is that used in Sm’algya̱x: A Reference Dictionary and Grammar of the Coast Tsimshian Language and by the Tsimshian First Nation Council in the Sm’algya̱x Living Legacy Talking Dictionary.

Note: There are several Roman Orthography conventions on this site that may require further explanation. On the charts below, there is lots of phonetic terminology that may not be familiar to everyone.

ISO 639-3 language code: tsi


The Canadian Census counts 640 Tsimshian speakers in 2006, up from from 505 in 2001, which would include both Sm’algya̱x and South Tsimshian. According to Howe and Cook, there are 500 in both Canada (430) and the United States (70).


  bilabial alveolar alveolar affricate lateral palatalised velar velar rounded velar uvular glottal
voiced stop b d dz   gy g gw
voiceless stop p t ts   ky k kw  
ejective stop p’ t’ ts’   k’y k’ kw’ ḵ’  
voiceless fricative     s ł       x h
resonant m n   l y w    
glottalised resonant ’m ’n   ’l ’y ’ẅ ’w    


  front central back
high i - ii ü - üü u - uu
mid e - ee   o - oo
low   a - aa a̱ - a̱a̱


  1. Long vowels are written double.
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Last Modified: 24-Jun-2013