STƏYWƏTE:N̓ pronunciation

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My son started going to Point Grey stəywəte:n̓ Secondary School, but I didn't know how to pronounce it so I asked the school on Twitter but never got a response.

Then I decided to ask on Quora, which did help me find an approximate pronunciation of it as well as some information about which Canadian First Nation's word it is:

It seems that the Musqueam language (Hul'q'umi'num' aka hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓) uses NAPA, which is closely related with IPA.

Still, I feel like the placement of that word in the title without an explanation of it causes confusion. I think it was probably done in the spirit of respect, however by putting it there without providing more information, I think it creates more confusion and therefore doesn't bring about the desired outcome. I hope the school will reevaluate how it brands itself, and provides more details on what it is doing to be respectful to indigenous cultures than just creating confusion and mystique around them.

On a related note, I had difficulty hunting for my tweet with :əywəte:n̓ I believe it is the colon in the tweets which throws the search index off. Perhaps they might use the IPA long vowel character ː to write stəywəteːn̓, so search indexes would realize it's human language and not punctuation.

I've recorded a video where I go into more details:

Since recording the above, I have consulted ChatGPT which said:

Nik: What does STƏYWƏTE:N̓ mean and how is it pronounced?

ChatGPT4: STƏYWƏTE:N̓ is a word in the Hul'q'umi'num' language, which is the language of the Coast Salish First Nations people in British Columbia, Canada. It refers to the concept of "standing together" or "helping one another." The language has its own unique orthography, which uses special symbols and letters that may not be present in other languages.

Pronouncing Hul'q'umi'num' words can be challenging for English speakers, but here's a rough pronunciation guide for STƏYWƏTE:N̓:

  • "S" is pronounced as in English.
  • "T" is pronounced as in English, but it's a little more aspirated (more air is released during pronunciation).
  • "Ə" is a schwa sound, similar to the unstressed "uh" sound in the word "sofa."
  • "Y" is pronounced as in English.
  • "W" is pronounced as in English.
  • "E" is pronounced as in the "e" in "red."
  • "N̓" represents a glottalized nasal sound, which means that you should stop the flow of air through your nose when pronouncing it.

So, a rough pronunciation of STƏYWƏTE:N̓ would be something like "stu-yuh-wuh-teh-n'". Keep in mind that this is an approximation, and it is always best to consult native speakers or language experts for accurate pronunciation.

Nik: What would STƏYWƏTE:N̓ be in IPA?

ChatGPT4: While I am not an expert in the Hul'q'umi'num' language, I can offer a rough IPA transcription of the word STƏYWƏTE:N̓, based on the pronunciation guide provided earlier:


Here's a breakdown of the IPA symbols used:

  • /s/ is the "s" sound, as in English
  • /t/ is the aspirated "t" sound
  • /ə/ is the schwa sound, similar to the unstressed "uh" sound in the word "sofa"
  • /j/ is the "y" sound, as in English
  • /ʷ/ is a superscript symbol indicating the "w" sound is labialized (rounded) and pronounced together with the preceding consonant
  • /ɛ/ is the "e" sound, as in the "e" in "red"
  • /ʔ/ is the glottal stop
  • /n̩/ is the glottalized nasal sound (the small vertical line below the "n" indicates that it is a syllabic consonant)

Please note that this transcription is an approximation based on the pronunciation guide provided earlier and might not fully capture the nuances of the Hul'q'umi'num' language. Consulting a native speaker or a linguist with expertise in Hul'q'umi'num' would provide a more accurate IPA transcription.

See Also