Quileute /ˈkwɪlɪjuːt/, also known as Quillayute /kwɪˈleɪjuːt/, was the last Chimakuan language, spoken until the end of the 20th century by Quileute and Makah elders on the western coast of the Olympic peninsula south of Cape Flattery at La Push and the lower Hoh River in Washington State, United States. The name Quileute comes from kʷoʔlí·yot’ [kʷoʔléːjotʼ], the name of a village at La Push.
There were ten elderly speakers in 1977, and "a few" in 1999. The Quileute Nation is attempting to prevent the loss of the language by teaching it in the Quileute Tribal School, using books written for the students by the tribal elders.
[In 2007], the Tribal Council set up a two-year Quileute Revitalization Project with the goal of encouraging the use of Quileute words and phrases in everyday village life. A basic vocabulary of greetings, questions, numbers, names of things, and "one-liners" in Quileute were made available to tribal members and staff through informal classes, email and computer CDs.
Quileute has three vowels, /e/, /a/, /o/ long and short (pronounced [i], [ə], [o] when short and in non-tonic syllables), as well as /æː/ which only occurs long. Stress is historically penultimate, though this has become somewhat obscured and is no longer predictable. There are no nasal consonants. It has the following consonants (t͡ɬ and ɡ are rare):
Quileute features an interesting prefix system that changes depending on the physical characteristics of the person being spoken of, the speaker, or rarely the person being addressed. When speaking of a cross-eyed person, /t͡ɬ-/ is prefixed to each word. When speaking of a hunchback, the prefix /t͡sʼ-/ is used. Additional prefixes are also used for short men (/s-/), "funny people" (/t͡ʃk-/), and people that have difficulty walking (/t͡ʃχ-/).