The Twana language or Skokomish language belongs to the Salishan family of Native American languages. It is believed by some elders within the Skokomish community (such as Bruce Subiyay Miller) that the language branched off from Lushootseed (xwəlšucid) because of the region-wide tradition of not speaking the name of someone who died for a year after their death. Substitute words were found in their place and often became normalizing in the community, generating differences from one community to the next. Subiyay speculated that this process increased the drift rate between languages and separated Twana firmly from xwəlšucid (Lushootseed).
The name "Skokomish" comes from the Twana sqʷuqʷóʔbəš, also spelled sqWuqWu'b3sH, and meaning "river people" or "people of the river".