The hwulmuhwqun ~ xʷəlməxʷqən pronunciation lab has  come out of a partnership between the UVic Speech Research Lab and the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language & Culture Society, funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, Hul’q’umi’num’ Phonetic Structures: Exploring Paths to Fluent Pronunciation (2018-2023).

Hul’q’umi’num’ territory extends along the Salish Sea from Me’luxulh (Malahat) to Snuw’nuw’us (Nanoose) on Vancouver Island and neighbouring islands (BC, Canada). Although very few (20-30) mother-tongue speakers remain, there are over 200 fluent second language (L2) speakers and over 1,000 learners of all ages. Many of the adult learners are leaders in their communities’ language reclamation and revitalization efforts; they are currently at intermediate levels of proficiency and ready to tackle the more complex features of their language, including the details of pronunciation.

The goal of the grant is to support Hul’q’umi’num’ learners’ in their pronunciation work, by (1) documenting pronunciation features of L2 speakers (in comparison to L1 speakers) & working with Elders, teachers, & learners to identify perceived challenges for learners, (2) creating pedagogical materials & tools to overcome these challenges, and (3) assessing the usefulness of these materials & tools.

Our team consists of university-based (University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto) and community-based (Hul’q’umi’num’ Language & Culture Society) partners with expertise across four academic fields: linguistics (phonetics and phonology), second language acquisition, applied linguistics (language learning and teaching), and Indigenous education. Our research focuses on the more challenging aspects of Hul’q’umi’num’ pronunciation, including consonants, consonant clusters, and rhythm.

Capacity building is an important aspect of our project. Our hope is to help language teachers improve their own oral fluency while also gaining important knowledge and methods for heping learners to acquire Hul’q’umi’num’ phonetic structures. We also strive to build capacity for research among our Hul’q’umi’num’ team members.