The Halq’eméylem sound ’ is a kind of “catch in the throat”. You make it by stopping the air in your throat, for a moment, as it moves through your vocal folds.
The diagram below illustrates how the sound is made (this diagram courtesy of the UBC Linguistics Department, used here with permission):
You say this sound in English at the beginning of words that start with vowels, like “uh oh” (there is a catch in the throat before each of those, even for English speakers). But in Halq’eméylem, this same sound can occur inside of words, where it is written with the apostrophe.
For Members Only:
Here are some examples of elders saying the word s’alhtel:
Audio: Elizabeth Herrling, Elizabeth Phillips