Instant Phonetic Englishization:  WAH_gah. 

The Velar-Uvular Sound Correspondence in General: This word is one of several words where Mrs. Metcalf’s South Slough Milluk (i.e. her Coos Bay Milluk) has a velar stop consonant where Mrs. Peterson’s Milluk has a uvular stop consonant.  Coos Bay Milluk and the neighboring Hanis language, also spoken along the shores of Coos Bay, share this sound correspondence with Mrs. Peterson’s Milluk.  In the case of this word, the Hanis language has a completely different word, according to Melville Jacobs’ slip file dictionary, so we can be sure that Lolly Metcalf was not just saying a Hanis word, for it to have a velar consonant, instead of the uvular consonant that Annie Miner Peterson’s version of this word has.  


easy way to type it:   waaga

Lolly Metcalf’s Coos Bay Milluk

Americanist Phonetic


[ wá·ga ],

 then a pronunciation with a slip of the tongue

[ ˈwɑˑɡɑ ],

 then a pronunciation with a slip of the tongue

Slip of the Tongue:  The syllabic r that we hear in the last syllable of Lolly Metcalf’s second pronunciation of this word is an outright slip of the tongue.  Notice that she just cleared her throat, something that may have thrown her off in pronouncing this word.  In interview segment “Big 2”, which is from later in the interview, Lolly says this same word twice just the way that she says the word the first time that she says it in this interview segment. 

Lolly Pronouncing a Uvular Consonant:  If you think that Lolly Metcalf could not pronounce a uvular stop consonant, just listen to how she says the Milluk word meaning ‘neck’ the third time that she says it as [ mɑˑq’ ], in the interview segment “Neck 2”.  We think that there she was provoked into saying it with a uvular ejective, as a part of making an exaggerated pronunciation of the word.  The other five times that she says the word in the interview, she pronounces it as [ mɑˑk’ ].  Lolly Metcalf could say uvular consonants, but it was evidently not a normal Coos Bay Milluk thing to do.  

for AMP:  


Annie Miner Peterson’s Milluk

Exactly Jacobs’ transcription

Americanist Phonetic & IPA

wa· ́g̣a  



[ wá·ɢ̣a


[ ˈwɑˑɢɑ ]

This Word as a Verb: In the Milluk texts, there are 16 examples of this Milluk verb, which is to say this predicate adjective, which means ‘be big’.  There is also a Milluk word / wá· / ‘big’ which is specifically an adjective that directly modifies a noun. 

The Velar-Uvular Sound Correspondence Here:  Melville Jacobs consistently heard Annie Miner Peterson pronounce this Milluk word as [ wá·ɢ̣a ], with a back g, i.e. with a voiced uvular stop.  In our modern Americanist phonetic transcriptions, we redundantly put a dot under the small capital g, in order to doubly mark this as a back g.