Aliilamo haslak / Welcome

Group Picture /

Koasati is a living language spoken by members of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. Koasati has been spoken in the south for many centuries, but tribal members have only recently begun writing the language. The Koasati Digital Dictionary is our attempt to document areas of traditional knowledge: words for plants and animals, family terms, numbers, and ways of living. It ultimately seeks to pass that knowledge on to our children and grandchildren.

Aliilamo (Thank you) for visiting this site and learning about our language. As you study the words, we hope you gain an appreciation of our history, our customs, and our relationship to the world around us.

Writing Koasati

In 2007, members of the Coushatta Tribe were invited to a special meeting to develop a written form of the Koasati language. Over a two-day period, we created a writing system that would be easy to type, and that would represent the sounds of Koasati. This alphabet was approved by the group on June 23, 2007 and has been used on a daily basis since then.

The Koasati Alphabet

  • a aha, sweet potato
  • aa aati, person
  • b bakba, woodpecker
  • ch chokfi, rabbit
  • f fiito, turkey
  • h hasi, sun
  • i ifa, dog
  • ii iisa, house
  • k kati, cat
  • l lambi, caterpillar
  • m mobiila, car
  • n nokko, beaver
  • o oki, water
  • oo oola, town
  • p pakaali, flower
  • s satta, turtle
  • t tali, rock
  • th thatho, fish
  • w waaka, cow
  • y yanasa, buffalo

When a vowel is nasal, it’s underlined: a̱, i̱, o̱.


  • ai atsobailiichi, teacher
  • oi aanipo koili, butcher
  • aw slakawka, jack

Koasati sounds and spelling

Vowels in Koasati may be short (held for only a short time) or long (drawn out).
There are three short vowels:

  • a As in English sofa:
    • aha, sweet potato
    • ano, I, me
    • awo, grandfather
  • i As in English knit:
    • ifa, dog
    • icho, deer
    • itto, tree
  • o As in English coat:
    • oki, water
    • opa, owl
    • ochona, metal

Long vowels are spelled by doubling the letter:

  • aa As in English father:
    • aati, person
    • aapo, grandmother
    • aanipo, meat
  • ii As in English need:
    • iisa, house
    • iipa, eater
  • oo As in English code:
    • oola, town
    • oolachi, cloud

The difference between short and long vowels is important.
Here are a few words showing the difference:

  • a vs. aa
    • palana, bean
    • palaana, plate
  • o vs. oo
    • choba, big
    • chooba, horse

Some vowels in Koasati are nasal. Nasal vowels are underlined.

  • a As in English want.
  • i As in English queen.
  • o As in English bone.

The following consonants are spelled the same way in Koasati and English:

  • b As in English box:
    • bakba, woodpecker
    • bakcho, blackberry
    • bathka, grape
  • ch As in English church:
    • chokfi, rabbit
    • choksi, pumpkin, squash
    • chawahka, corn soup
  • f As in English fox:
    • fiito, turkey
    • foosi, bird
    • folo, spoon
  • h As in English hello:
    • hasi, sun
    • hachi, tail
    • hini, road
  • k As in English skin:
    • kati, cat
    • kapcho, earthworm
    • kono, skunk
  • l As in English lamp:
    • lambi, caterpillar
    • lakcha, crow
    • locha, black
  • m As in English man:
    • mobiila, car
    • mikko, chief, king
    • malmahka, lightning
  • n As in English neck:
    • nita, bear
    • naani, male
    • nokko, beaver
  • p As in English spoon:
    • pakaali, flower
    • patka, bed
    • pokko, ball
  • s As in English son:
    • satta, turtle
    • sakcho, crawfish
    • sawa, raccoon
  • t As in English stick:
    • tali, rock
    • taata, daddy
    • talakchi, watermelon
  • w As in English wax:
    • waaka, cow
    • wilo, shoe
    • waksina, cypress
  • y As in English yellow:
    • yanasa, buffalo
    • yalaaha, orange
    • yahka, cry

There is one sound in Koasati that doesn’t exist at all in English. We spell it th, but it’s not the same as English th:

  • th A little like th in English
    • thatho, fish
    • thafi, winter
    • thaana, horsefly

The Koasati sound th is pronounced by saying l while making the air go over the sides of the tongue. It sounds a little like th or thl in English, but it really isn’t the same as those sounds.

Koasati sometimes has h at the ends of syllables. The h in this position is pronounced (but hard for English speakers):

  • nita, bear nihta, day
  • hachi, tail hahchi, river

About the Dictionary

Recording the Dictionary

The Coushatta Tribe of Louisana Koasati Digital Dictionary is a collaborative effort between the Coushatta Tribe of Lousiana, McNeese State University, and the College of William and Mary. It was sponsored in part by a grant from a National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages grant.

We are grateful to the Coushatta Tribal Council for their continued support and guidance.

Language Committee

Ronnie Abbey, Iwana Barnard, Doris Battise, Margie Battise, Ed Celestine, Darlene Dunnehoo, Nina Fuselier, Claudine Hasting, Jaime Hill, Dakota John, Jonas John, Marian John, Margaret John, Barbara Langley, Bertney Langley, Loris Langley, Jeanette Celestine Langley, Regina “Tee” LaBuff, Paula Manuel, Kathy Peoples, Clifford Poncho, Jamison Poncho, Lorenda Poncho, Geraldine Reed, Adrian Sylestine, Delson “Dan” Sylestine, Janice Sylestine, Terry Sylestine, Elizabeth Marie Thompson, Leland Thompson, Carol Whitworth, Crystal Williams, Heather Williams, Loretta Williams, Norman Williams, Rodney Williams

under the guidance of

Bertney Langley and Linda Langley

edited by

Jack B. Martin

with assistance from

Stephanie Hasselbacher Berryhill, Tim Churchill, Thomas Diaz, Angela Hales, Christopher Hart-Moynihan, Luke Hart-Moynihan, Joe Kessler, Colton O’Connor, Eric Press, Rachael Tatman, Dan Villarreal

Website by Evan Cordulack