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Illustration for 'mountain'

Smámelet is another word for ‘mountain’ or ‘mountains’. Surprisingly, you can use the same form to mean ‘pebble’, or ‘small stone’.

Illustration for rocks (plural)



Smámelet sounds like SMAMM-uh-litt. The vowel a here is the same as in the English word ‘ham‘.

Audio: Elizabeth Herrling, Elizabeth Phillips

Word structure

Smámelet comes from the base word smált which means rock, stone, mountain.

Elders make smámelet through a partial doubling (‘reduplication’) of the base word, like this:

Mountain structure A

Smált means ‘rock, stone, mountain’


Mountain structure 2

For this type of reduplication, you start by selecting the first consonant-vowel (CV) in the word (the s- prefix doesn’t count)

Mountain illustration 3

You double (‘reduplicate’) this CV sequence.

Mountain illustration 3

The second vowel reduces to “e”

This type of partial doubling (reduplication of the initial CV) is normally associated with the meaning ‘little’ or ‘small’, which is why you can use smámelet for ‘small stone, pebble’.

However, the Elders also consistently use smámelet for the meaning ‘mountain‘ (any size).

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