Oral stories form a portal through which rich cultural and linguistic information is passed from generation to generation. Tellings from Our Elders, Volume 2, presents stories in the Skagit Valley dialects of Lushootseed, the language of the indigenous people of the southern and eastern shores of Puget Sound. Transcribed from recordings made of the last generation of elders who learned Lushootseed as an exclusive mother tongue, and published with line-by-line interlinear glosses, this collection of nine traditional stories (syeyehub) opens a doorway to cultural knowledge, specialized vocabulary, and patterns of narrative stylistics typical of Coast Salish storytelling.
David Beck is a professor of linguistics at the University of Alberta who specializes in typology and morphosyntactic description, lexicography, language documentation, and Mesoamerican historical linguistics. He has worked extensively on Lushootseed archival materials and conducted fieldwork on Upper Necaxa Totonac, a minority language of Mexico. The authors of many journal articles on these two languages, Beck has also produced the Upper Necaxa Totonac Dictionary (2011). He is currently the North American editor of the book series Brill’s Studies in the Indigenous Languages of the Americas and co-editor, with Donna Gerdts, of the International Journal of American Linguistics.
Thom Hess (1936-2009) was a professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria who worked extensively on the Salishan and Wakashan languages of Vancouver Island and northwestern Washington State. In addition to publishing extensively in the academic domain, he dedicated much of his career to the production of materials with practical and pedagogical applications for speaker communities, including the Dictionary of Puget Salish, the Lushootseed Dictionary (with Dawn Bates and Vi Hilbert), and the three-volume Lushootseed Reader series.
As excellent examples of a specifically linguistic form of textual presentation, these volumes definitely achieve what they have set out to do. As such, they are not books that one would pick up simply to read the stories. Nevertheless, it is possible to discern that the stories are rich in teachings, [and] that they are beautifully told …