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Encyclopedia > Tlingit language
Tlingit
Lingít 
Pronunciation: IPA: /ɬɪŋkɪ́t/
Spoken in: USA, Canada 
Region: Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon
Total speakers: 500
Language family: Na-Dené
 Tlingit
 
Writing system: Latin (Tlingit variant)
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: tli
ISO 639-3: tli

The Tlingit language (Eng. /ˈklɪŋˌkʰɪt/, Tl. Lingít /ɬɪŋkɪ́t/) is spoken by the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Western Canada. It is a branch of the Na-Dené language family. Tlingit is very endangered, with about 500 native speakers still living, essentially all of whom are bilingual or near-bilingual in English. Extensive effort is being put into revitalization programs in Southeast Alaska to revive and preserve the Tlingit language and its culture. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  Ranked 1st  - Total 663,267 sq mi (1,717,855 km²)  - Width 808 miles (1,300 km)  - Length 1,479 miles (2,380 km)  - % water 13. ... Motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Latin: Splendour without diminishment) Official languages English de facto (none stated in law) Flower Pacific dogwood Tree Western Redcedar Bird Stellers Jay Capital Victoria Largest city Vancouver Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo Premier Gordon Campbell (BC Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 36 6 Area... This article is about Yukon Territory in Canada. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families Most languages are known to belong to language families. ... Pre-contact distribution of Na-Dené languages (in red) Na-Dené (also Na-Dene, Nadene, Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit) is a Native American language family which includes the Athabaskan languages, Eyak, and Tlingit. ... Writing systems of the world today. ... The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today. ... The Tlingit language has been recorded in a number of orthographies over the two hundred years since European contact. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ... For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of sounds and the human voice. ... Unicode is an industry standard designed to allow text and symbols from all of the writing systems of the world to be consistently represented and manipulated by computers. ... This chart shows concisely the most common way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is applied to represent the English language. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A Tlingit totem pole in Ketchikan ca. ... Inland view of the Alaska Panhandle The Alaska Panhandle is the coast of the American state of Alaska, just west of the British Columbia province of Canada. ... Pre-contact distribution of Na-Dené languages (in red) Na-Dené (also Na-Dene, Nadene, Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit) is a Native American language family which includes the Athabaskan languages, Eyak, and Tlingit. ... An endangered language is a language with so few surviving speakers that it is in danger of falling out of use. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  Ranked 1st  - Total 663,267 sq mi (1,717,855 km²)  - Width 808 miles (1,300 km)  - Length 1,479 miles (2,380 km)  - % water 13. ...

Contents

History

The history of Tlingit is poorly understood, mostly because there is no written record until first contact with Europeans around the 1790s, and even then it remains sparse and irregular until the early 20th century. The language appears to have spread northward from the KetchikanSaxman area towards the Chilkat region, since certain conservative features are reduced gradually from south to north. The shared features between the Eyak language found around the Copper River delta and Tongass Tlingit near the Portland Canal are all the more striking for the distances that separate them, both geographic and linguistic. Ketchikan (IPA: ) is the fifth most populous city in the U.S. state of Alaska and the southeasternnmost sizable city in that state. ... Saxman is a city located in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska. ... Eyak is a moribund Na-Dené language that was historically spoken in southcentral Alaska, near the mouth of the Copper River. ... A fisherman (bottom center) dipnetting for salmon on the Copper River at Chitina. ... The Portland Canal is an arm of the Portland Inlet, one of the principal inlets of the British Columbia Coast. ...


Classification

Tlingit is currently classified as a distinct and separate branch of the Na-Dené family of North American languages, with its closest relative being Eyak. Edward Sapir (1915) argued for its inclusion in the Na-Dené family, a claim which was subsequently debated by Franz Boas (1917), P.E. Goddard (1920), and many other linguistic luminaries of the time. Studies in the late 20th century by Heinz-Jürgen Pinnow (1962, 1968, 1970, int. al.) and Michael Krauss (1964, 1965, 1969, int. al.) showed a strong connection to Eyak and hence to Athabaskan languages, and this relationship is now widely accepted. Pre-contact distribution of Na-Dené languages (in red) Na-Dené (also Na-Dene, Nadene, Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit) is a Native American language family which includes the Athabaskan languages, Eyak, and Tlingit. ... Eyak is a moribund Na-Dené language that was historically spoken in southcentral Alaska, near the mouth of the Copper River. ... Edward Sapir. ... Franz Boas Franz Boas (July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942[1]) was one of the pioneers of modern anthropology and is often called the Father of American Anthropology. Born in Germany, Boas worked for most of his life in North America. ... Michael E. Krauss is a linguist who has worked extensively on the Na-Dené language family, especially on proto-Athabaskan, pre-proto-Athabaskan, and the Eyak language. ... Athabaskan or Athabascan (also Athapascan or Athapaskan) is the name of a large group of distantly related Native American peoples, also known as the Athabasca Indians or Athapaskes, and of their language family. ...


A connection to Haida was initially proposed by Sapir, but the debate over Na-Dené gradually excluded Haida from the discussion. Haida is now considered an isolate with some borrowing through long proximity with Tlingit, however Haida linguist John Enrico has recently presented (2004) new arguments which have reopened the debate. The Haida are an indigenous people of the west coast of North America. ... A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or genetic) relationship with other living languages; that is, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common to any other language. ...


Geographic distribution

The Tlingit language is distributed from near the mouth of the Copper River down the open coast of the Gulf of Alaska and throughout almost all of the islands of the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska. It is characterized by four or five distinct but mostly mutually intelligible dialects, for which see below. Almost all of the area where the Tlingit language is endemic is contained within the modern borders of Alaska except for an area known as Inland Tlingit which extends up the Taku River and into northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory around the Atlin (Áa Tleen “Big Lake”) and Teslin (Desleen < Tas Tleen “Big Thread”) lake districts, as well as a concentration around Lake Bennett at the end of the Chilkoot Trail (Jilkhoot). Except for these areas, Tlingit is not found in Canada, although Tlingit legend tells that groups of Tlingit once inhabited the Stikine, Nass, and Skeena river valleys during their migrations from the interior. A fisherman (bottom center) dipnetting for salmon on the Copper River at Chitina. ... The Gulf of Alaska is an arm of the Pacific Ocean defined by the curve of the southern coast of Alaska, stretching from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east, where Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found. ... A MODIS photograph of the Alexander Archipelago The Alexander Archipelago is an archipelago, or group of islands, off the southeast coast of Alaska. ... Inland view of the Alaska Panhandle The Alaska Panhandle is the coast of the American state of Alaska, just west of the British Columbia province of Canada. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  Ranked 1st  - Total 663,267 sq mi (1,717,855 km²)  - Width 808 miles (1,300 km)  - Length 1,479 miles (2,380 km)  - % water 13. ... The Taku River is a river in British Columbia and Alaska. ... Motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Latin: Splendour without diminishment) Official languages English de facto (none stated in law) Flower Pacific dogwood Tree Western Redcedar Bird Stellers Jay Capital Victoria Largest city Vancouver Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo Premier Gordon Campbell (BC Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 36 6 Area... Motto: none Other Canadian provinces and territories Capital Whitehorse Largest city Whitehorse Commissioner Jack Cable Premier Dennis Fentie (Yukon Party) Area 482,443 km² (9th)  - Land 474,391 km²  - Water 8,052 km² (1. ... Atlin comes from the Tlingit First Nations (not Indians real Indians are from India. ... Lake Bennett is a lake partly in the province of British Columbia and partly in the Yukon Territory, in Canada. ... The Chilkoot Trail is a trail in the Chilkoot mountains in Alaska that leads from Dyea, Alaska, United States to Bennett, British Columbia, Canada through the Chilkoot Pass in the Coast Mountains. ... Location map of the Stikine River The Stikine River (sti-KEEN) is a river, approximately 335 mi (539 km) long, in northwestern British Columbia in Canada and southeastern Alaska in the United States. ... The Nass River is a river in northern British Columbia, Canada. ... The Skeena River is on the north coast of British Columbia, passing through Terrace. ...


Dialects

Tlingit is divided into roughly five major dialects, all of which are essentially mutually intelligible, at least with some patience between listener and speaker. The northernmost dialect is arguably not a distinct dialect, but is nevertheless called the Yakutat (Yakhwdaat) dialect after its principal town. The Northern dialect is spoken in an area south from Lituya Bay (Litu.aa) to Frederick Sound. The Transitional dialect, which is a two-tone dialect like the Northern but which has phonological features of the Southern, is historically spoken in the villages of Petersburg (Gántiyaakw Séedi “Steamboat Canyon”), Kake (Khéixh' “Daylight”), and Wrangell (Khaachxhana.áak'w “Khaachxhan’s Little Lake”), and in the surrounding regions, although it has almost disappeared. The similarly moribund Southern dialects of Sanya and Heinya are spoken from Sumner Strait south to the Alaska-Canada border, excepting Annette Island which is the reservation of the Tsimshian people, and the southern end of Prince of Wales Island which is the land of the Kaigani Haida (K'aayk'aani). The fourth major dialect is the Inland Tlingit dialect spoken in Canada around Atlin Lake and Teslin Lake. The Tongass Tlingit dialect was once spoken in the Cape Fox area south of Ketchikan, but has recently died with its last speakers in the 1990s. ... Lituya Bay is a fjord (inlet) located at Latitude 58°38 North Longitude 137°34 West in Alaska. ... Media:Example. ... Petersburg is a city in Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, Alaska, in the United States. ... Kake is a city located in Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, Alaska. ... Wrangell is a city located in Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, Alaska. ... Sumner Strait is a strait in the Alexander Archipelago in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Alaska. ... Annette Island is an island in Gravina Islands of the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean on the southeastern coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. ... The Tsimshian (usually pronounced in English SIM-shee-an), translated as People Inside the Skeena River, are a Native American and First Nation people who live around Terrace and Prince Rupert, on the north coast of British Columbia and the southernmost corner of Alaska on Annette Island. ... Prince of Wales Island is the third largest island of the USA, after Hawai‘i and Kodiak Island. ... One of the First Nations of Canada, the Haida live on islands off the west coast of North America. ... Atlin comes from the Tlingit First Nations (not Indians real Indians are from India. ... Ketchikan (IPA: ) is the fifth most populous city in the U.S. state of Alaska and the southeasternnmost sizable city in that state. ...


The various dialects of Tlingit can be classified roughly into two-tone and three-tone systems. The tone values in two-tone dialects can be predicted in some cases from the three-tone values, but not the reverse. This fact led to the hypothesis that the three-tone dialects were older and that the two-tone dialects evolved from them. However Jeff Leer’s discovery of the Tongass dialect in the late 1970s upset this proposal of linguistic evolution. In place of tone, Tongass Tlingit features a four way contrast between short, long, glottalized, and fading vowels. (“Fading” here means that the onset of the vowel is articulated normally but the release is murmured, essentially a rapid opening of the glottis once articulation is begun.) Further research showed that the Tongass vowel system was adequate to predict the tonal features of both the two-tone and three-tone dialects, but that none of the tonal dialects could be used to predict vocalic feature distribution in Tongass Tlingit. Thus Tongass Tlingit is the most conservative of the various dialects of Tlingit, preserving contrasts which have been lost in the other dialects. Breathy voice or murmured voice is a phonation in which the vocal folds are vibrating as in normal voicing, but the glottal closure is incomplete, so that the voicing is somewhat inefficient and air continues to leak between the vocal folds throughout the vibration cycle with audible friction noise. ...


The similarity of fading and glottalized vowels between Tongass Tlingit and Coastal Tsimshian led to ideas that the two could be related. However Krauss and Leer (1981, p. 165) point out that the fading vowels in Coastal Tsimshian are the surface realization of underlying sequences of vowel and glottalized sonorant, i.e. VʔC. This is in contradistinction to the glottal modifications in Tongass Tlingit which Leer argues are instead symmetric with the modifications of the consonantal system. Thus a fading vowel is symmetric with an aspirated consonant , and a glottalized vowel V͡ʔ is symmetric with an ejective (glottalized) consonant C’. This implies then that the two systems are only coincidentally similar and have no familial relationship. Leer (1978) speculated that the maintenance of the pretonal system in Tongass Tlingit was caused by the proximity of its speakers around the Cape Fox area near the mouth of the Portland Canal to Coastal Tsimshian speakers just to the south. Pre-contact distribution of Tsimshianic languages Tsimshianic is a family of languages spoken in northernwestern British Columbia and southern Alaska. ... In phonology, the underlying representation or underlying form of a morpheme is the abstract form the morpheme is postulated to have before any phonological rules have applied to it. ... The Portland Canal is an arm of the Portland Inlet, one of the principal inlets of the British Columbia Coast. ...


Phonology

Tlingit, like many North American aboriginal languages, has a rich and complex phonological system. It is famous for having an almost complete series of ejective consonants accompanying its stop, fricative, and affricate consonants. The only missing ejective consonant in the Tlingit series is IPA [ʃ’], which might be written sh' in the popular orthography. Some speakers seem to be able to produce this phoneme, but have difficulty distinguishing it from ch' [tʃ’]. Tlingit is also notable for having several laterals but no voiced [l], and no labials in most dialects, except for [m] and [p] in recent English loanwords. Phonology (Greek phonÄ“ = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... Ejective consonants are a class of consonants which may contrast with aspirated or unaspirated consonants in a language. ... For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ... The orthography of a language is the set of symbols (glyphs and diacritics) used to write a language, as well as the set of rules describing how to write these glyphs, including spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Laterals are L-like consonants pronounced with an occlusion made somewhere along the axis of the tongue, while air from the lungs escapes at one side or both sides of the tongue. ... Labials are consonants articulated either with both lips (bilabial articulation) or with the lower lip and the upper teeth (labiodental articulation). ... A loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. ...


Consonants

Consonants in the popular orthography are given in the following table, with IPA equivalents in brackets. Marginal or historical phonemes are given in parentheses.

  Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral plain labial plain labial
Stop unaspirated   d [t]     g [k] gw [kʷ] gh [q] ghw [qʷ]  
aspirated   t [tʰ]     k [kʰ] kw [kʷʰ] kh [qʰ] khw [qʷʰ]  
ejective   t' [t’]     k' [k’] k'w [kʷ’] kh' [q’] kh'w [qʷ’] . [ʔ]
Affricate unaspirated   dz [ts] dl [tɬ] j [tʃ]          
aspirated   ts [tsʰ] tl [tɬʰ] ch [tʃʰ]          
ejective   ts' [ts’] tl' [tɬ’] ch' [tʃ’]          
Fricative voiceless   s [s] l [ɬ] sh [ʃ] x [x] xw [xʷ] xh [χ] xhw [χʷ] h [h]
ejective   s' [s’] l' [ɬ’]   x' [x’] x'w [xʷ’] xh' [χ’] xh'w [χʷ’]  
Nasal (m [m]) n [n]            
Approximant     (ll [l]) y [j] (ÿ [ɰ]) w [w]      

The consonant m is a variant of w found in the Interior dialect, for example in amsikóo “(he) knew it”, which would be awsikóo in the Coastal dialects. It is not strictly an allophone as Interior speakers appear to distinguish the two; it is more likely that the distinction is allomorphic. The consonant ll is an allophone of n now mostly obsolete, but still occasionally heard among the oldest speakers, particularly in the Interior dialect. However its former allophony with n is still evident in many Tlingit loanwords where n replaces the [l] in the source language, such as sgóon “school”. In phonetics, an allophone is one of several similar phones that belong to the same phoneme. ...


The consonant ÿ (/ɰ/) is recently extinct, and was a distinct consonant from y (/j/). It has evolved into y or w (/w/) depending on the phonological environment, with w next to rounded vowels and labialized consonants, and y elsewhere. It shows up as a g occasionally in placenames derived from Tlingit during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as in some broad transcriptions by earlier anthropologists, e.g. “Gan Gulihashee Hit” for Ÿan Ÿuliháshi Hít “Drifted Ashore House” as recorded by Olson, today written Yan Wuliháshi Hít. Because the use of y versus w is predictable from context where it was originally a ÿ, this graph is used consistently in linguistic transcription, but not in ordinary writing. Note that this consonant has been erroneously referred to as “gamma”, confused with the similar [ɣ] which is however the voiced velar fricative, not an approximant. Vowels Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. ... Labialisation is secondary articulatory feature of sounds in a language, most usually used to refer to consonants. ... The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. ... Approximants are speech sounds that could be regarded as intermediate between vowels and typical consonants. ...


Nasal consonant assimilation with /n/ and the velar and uvular stops is common among Tlingit speakers of all dialects. For example, the sequence nk (/nk/) is often heard as [ŋk] and nkh (/nq/) as [ɴq]. Native speakers in a teaching position may admonish learners when they produce these assimilated forms, deriding them as “not Tlingit” or “too English”, but it is not uncommon to later hear the speakers producing these forms themselves. It is uncertain whether this assimilation is autochthonous or if it arose from contact with English, although the former is more likely from a purely articulatory perspective. A nasal consonant is produced when the velum&#8212;that fleshy part of the palate near the back&#8212;is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... Assimilation is a regular and frequent sound change process by which a phoneme changes to match an adjacent phoneme in a word. ... Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum). ... Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. ... A stop, plosive, or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ...


Young speakers and second language learners of Tlingit are increasingly making a voiced/unvoiced distinction between consonants rather than the traditional unaspirated/aspirated distinction. This is due to the influence of English and its similar distinction. For speakers which make the voiced/unvoiced distinction the distribution is symmetrical with the unaspirated/aspirated distinction among other speakers. Phoneticians define phonation as use of the laryngeal system to generate an audible source of acoustic energy, i. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some obstruents. ...


Maddieson, Smith, and Bessel (2001) note that all word final non-ejective stops are phonemically unaspirated. This contrasts with the orthography which typically represents them as aspirated stops, e.g. t [tʰ] for the more accurate d [t]. There is wide variation in ordinary speech, ranging from unreleased [t̚] to a very delayed aspiration [t:ʰ]. However the underlying phoneme is certainly unaspirated /t/ because it is consistently produced when the word is suffixed. The orthography usually but not always reflects this, for example hít “house” is written (du) hídi “(his) house” when marked with the possessive suffix -ÿí. It is possible that aspirated and unaspirated stops are collapsed into a single phoneme word-finally, however this has not been verified. Ian Maddieson is a world-renowned linguist at UC Berkeley, the vice president of the International Phonetic Association. ...


Maddieson et al. also confirm that the ejective fricatives in Tlingit are in fact true ejectives. This is counter to the widely held assumption that ejective fricatives are not actually phonetically ejective, but are instead produced as a sequence of fricative and glottal stop. In Tlingit, at least, the articulation of ejective fricatives does include complete closure of the glottis before frication begins, and the larynx is raised in the same manner as with ejective stops. Characteristically, the ejective fricatives in Tlingit feature a much smaller aperture for frication than what is found in ordinary fricatives. This articulation provides increased resistance to counter the continual loss of dynamic airstream pressure. In addition, ejective fricatives appear to include tightening of the pharyngeal muscles which reduces the diameter of the air column and thus further increases pressure. This pharyngeal constriction is not true pharyngealization, however, since the diameter is still greater than that found in pharyngealized consonants in other languages. Ejective consonants are a class of consonants which may contrast with aspirated or tenuis consonants in a language. ... Fricatives (or spirants) are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. ...


Vowels

Tlingit has eight vowels, four cardinal vowels further distinguished formally by length. However, the length distinction is often in terms of tenseness rather than length, particularly in rapid speech. For the Northern dialect, the dominant spoken dialect of Tlingit and the standard for written Tlingit, every vowel may take either high or low tone; in the orthography high tone is indicated by an acute accent, e.g. áa, and low tone is unmarked, e.g. aa. The Southern and Transitional dialects have a mid tone which is unmarked and additional low tone which is marked by a grave accent, e.g. àa. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Vowel sound produced when the tongue is in an extreme position, either front or back, high or low. ... In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. ... Tenseness is a term used in phonology to describe a particular vowel quality that is phonemically contrastive in many languages, including English. ... It has been suggested that Tonal language be merged into this article or section. ... The acute accent (  ) is a diacritic mark used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin and Greek scripts. ... The grave accent ( ` ) is a diacritic mark used in written Greek until 1982 (polytonic orthography), French, Catalan, Welsh, Italian, Vietnamese, Scottish Gaelic, Norwegian, Portuguese and other languages. ...

  Tense/Long Lax/Short
front central back front central back
close ee [i:]   oo [u:] i [ɪ]   u [ʊ]
mid ei [e:]     e [ɛ]   a [ʌ]
open   aa [a:] (aa [ɒ:])   (a [ɐ])  

As noted in the vowel chart above, there is an allophone of /a:/ (orthographic aa) which is realized as [ɒ:] under the influence of uvular consonants, however this is not consistent for all speakers. The backness influence arises from articulation with uvular consonants, thus the word khaa “person” is often spoken as [qɒ:], whereas the word (a) káa “on (its) surface” is said as [(ʔʌ) ká:] by the same speakers.


Word onset is always consonantal in Tlingit, i.e. no word may begin with a vowel. Where one would occur theoretically by e.g. prefixing or compounding, the vowel is obligatorily preceded by either [ʔ] or [j]. The former is universal in single words, and the later is found varying with [ʔ] in word-medial position in compounds. The orthography does not reflect the [ʔ] in word-initial position, but either . or y may be seen in medial position. For example, the word khoowat'áa “the weather is hot” (khu-ÿu-ÿa-t'áa, INDH.OBJ-PERF-(0, -D, +I)-hot) is phonetically [qʰu:wʌt’á:], but when the perfective prefix ÿu- is word initial in uwat'áa “it is hot” (0-ÿu-ÿa-t'áa, 3NEU.OBJ-PERF-(0, -D, +I)-hot) the phonetic form is [ʔʊwʌt’á:] where the glottal stop appears to ensure that the word begins with a consonant.


Writing system

Main article: Tlingit alphabet

Tlingit was until the late 1960s written exclusively in phonetic transcription in the works of linguists and anthropologists, except for a little known Cyrillic alphabet used for publications by the Russian Orthodox Church. A number of amateur anthropologists doing extensive work on the Tlingit had no training in linguistics whatsoever and left numerous samples in vague and inconsistent transcriptions, the most famous being George T. Emmons. However, such noted anthropologists as Franz Boas, John R. Swanton, and Frederica de Laguna have transcribed Tlingit in various related systems which feature accuracy and consistency, though sacrificing readability. The Tlingit language has been recorded in a number of orthographies over the two hundred years since European contact. ... The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (Russian: ), also known as the Orthodox Christian Church of Russia, is that body of Christians who are united under the Patriarch of Moscow, who in turn is in communion with the other patriarchs and primates of the Eastern Orthodox Church. ... Emmons, George Thornton (June 6, 1852 - June 11, 1945) was an ethnographic photographer and a US Navy Lieutenant. ... Franz Boas Franz Boas (July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942[1]) was one of the pioneers of modern anthropology and is often called the Father of American Anthropology. Born in Germany, Boas worked for most of his life in North America. ... John R. Swanton was an American anthropologist who worked among a number of Pacific Northwest coastal tribes in the United States and Canada in the early 20th century. ... Frederica (Freddy) de Laguna (1906, Ann Arbor, Michigan – October 6, 2004) was the daughter of Theodore Lopez de Leo de Laguna and Grace Mead Andrus, who had both received Doctorates from Cornell and who would later teach philosophy at Bryn Mawr College. ...


Two problems ensue from the multiplicity of transcription systems used for Tlingit. One is that there are many of them, thus requiring any reader to learn each individual system depending on what sources are used. The second problem is that most transcriptions made before Franz Boas's study of Tlingit have numerous mistakes in them, particularly because of misinterpretations of the short vowels and ejective consonants. Thus it is important to check any given transcription against similar words in other systems, or ideally against a modern work postdating Naish and Story's work in the 1960s. Franz Boas Franz Boas (July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942[1]) was one of the pioneers of modern anthropology and is often called the Father of American Anthropology. Born in Germany, Boas worked for most of his life in North America. ...


Grammar

Tlingit grammar at first glance appears to be highly fusional, but this is an incorrect assumption. There are predictable processes by which the basic phonetic shapes of individual morphemes are modified to fit various phonological requirements. These processes can be described with a regular language, and such descriptions done here on a per morpheme basis by giving rule schemas for the context sensitive phonological modification of base morphemes. Analyzing all the possible combinations of morphemes and phonological contexts in Tlingit and constructing a regular language to describe them is a daunting but tractable task. A fusional language (also called inflecting language) is a type of synthetic language, distinguished from agglutinative languages by its tendency to squish together many morphemes in a way which can be difficult to segment. ...


Despite not being a fusional language, Tlingit is still highly synthetic as an agglutinating language, and is even polysynthetic to some extent. The verb, as with all the Na-Dené languages, is characteristically incorporating. Nouns are in comparison relatively simple, with many being derived from verbs. A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-to-word ratio. ... An agglutinative language is a language in which the words are formed by joining morphemes together. ... Polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i. ... Incorporation is a phenomenon by which a word, usually a verb, forms a kind of compound with, for instance, its direct object or adverbial modifier, while retaining its original syntactic function. ...


Word Order

Tlingit word order is AOV when non-pronominal agent and object phrases both exist in the sentence. However there is a strong urge to restrict the argument of the verb phrase to a single non-pronominal noun phrase, with any other phrases being extraposed from the verb phrase. If a noun phrase occurs outside of the verb phrase then it is typically represented in the verb phrase by an appropriate pronoun. Word order, in linguistic typology, refers to the order in which words appear in sentences across different languages. ... In linguistic typology, Agent Object Verb (AOV) or Subject Object Verb (SOV) is the type of languages in which the agent, object, and verb of a sentence appear (usually) in that order. ... In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun phrase. ... In linguistics, a grammatical agent is an entity that carries out an action. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ... Look up phrase in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... linguistics, a verb phrase or VP is a syntactic structure composed of the predicative elements of a sentence and functions in providing information about the subject of the sentence. ... In linguistics, a noun phrase is a phrase whose Head is a noun. ...


Nouns

See main article: Tlingit noun

Like nouns in many Native American languages, the Tlingit noun is easily conceptualized but difficult to formally define. ...

Pronominals

Tlingit has a complex of pronominals which vary depending on their relationship to the verb. The subject pronominals are incorporated into the verb in its subject slot. The object pronominals are also technically incorporated into the verb (i.e. the verb “complex”), but most are graphically independent. They are divided into three classes, the verbal object, nominal object, and postpositional object. There are also the independent pronominals which are completely separate from the verb and can be used in dependent clauses or in subject or object position.


The pronominals all have related semantic values, and their organization can hence easily be visualized in a table.

Type Subject Object Independent
VO NO PO
1SG xha- xhat, axh axh xha- xhát
1PL too- haa haa uháan
2SG ee- i- i wa.é
2PL yi- yee- yee yeewáan*
3REC a-, 0- a a-
3NEU 0- a-, 0- du u-
3SAL ash ash
RFLX sh-, 0- chush
RECIP woosh woosh
INDH du- khu-, khaa- khaa khu-
INDN at- at
PART aa-

The numbers in the first column represent the usual concept of person, i.e. first, second, or third. Story and Naish identified a fourth person, but this term is inappropriate since they did not describe a clear separation between the so-called fourth person and the other impersonal pronominals.


The abbreviations in the first column represent, in order:

  1. singular
  2. plural
  3. singular
  4. plural
  5. recessive
  6. neutral
  7. salient
  8. reflexive
  9. reciprocal
  10. indefinite human
  11. indefinite nonhuman
  12. partitive

When analyzing a sentence, the pronominal type is given first, then the form (subject, object, independent) is given following a period. This uniquely represents the pronominal as a two dimensional unit. Thus 1SG.SUBJ is the first person singular subject pronominal, realized as xhat. The sign RECIP does not uniquely identify one of the two reciprocal pronominals, but since they are both phonetically identical as woosh, it is generally unnecessary to uniquely identify them.


There is also a notional zeroth person which can be of subject, object, or independent form. This is not realized in Tlingit, instead it is an empty placeholder for analysis.


Subject Pronominals

The subject pronominals are all incorporated into the verb. Thus when the subject is represented as a pronominal, the subject position of the sentence is empty.


Object Pronominals

Object pronominals are divided into three classes, the verbal, nominal, and postpositional. The verbal object pronominals function similarly to the subject pronominals in that they preclude an explicit object when used. The nominal object pronominals are similar in some respects to the possesive pronouns of English. They precede a noun and represent the object of the noun, typically implying possession of the noun.


Postpositional object pronominals function as objects to which postpositions are attached. They act as the object of a postposition in a manner similar to an ordinary noun suffixed with a postposition.


Directionals

Strictly speaking, the Tlingit directionals can be classified as nouns on the basis of their syntactic function. However, they form a distinct semantic set of nouns which indicate direction relative to some stated position. They also show stem variation depending locative suffixation, in particular with the allative suffix -dei. These stem variants also occur with the adverb construction N1-da-N2-(i)n “N2 N1-ward” where N2 is an anatomic noun and N1 is a directional stem.

Noun N-dei N-naa Adverb (+15)
up above (di-)kée (di-)kín-dei (di-)kee-naa kei, kéi
down below (di-)yée (di-)yín-dei (di-)yee-naa yei, yéi, yaa
upstream naakée nán-dei naa-nyaa ~ naa-naa
downstream ix-kée, éex íx-dei ixi-naa
from landshore, interior dáakh dákh-dei dakhi-naa daakh
toward landshore éekh íkh-dei ikhi-naa yeikh ~ eekh
toward seashore yán yán-dei yan
from seashore, out to sea dei-kí dák-dei daki-naa ~ diki-naa daak
across, other side diyáa diyáa-dei yan
inside neil neil-dei neil
outside gáan gán-dei
back khúxh-dei khuxh
aground, shallow water kúx-dei kux

Verbs

See main article: Tlingit verb

Particles

Particles function as neither noun nor verb. They are restricted to positions relative to phrases in the sentence.


Focus particles

The focus particles are particles which follow the left periphery (“forephrase” per Leer) of a sentence. The Naish-Story term for them is “post-marginals”. Many may be suffixed with a demonstrative (-yá, -hé, -wé, -yú), also they may be combined with the interrogative (-gé). Focus particles are stylistically written as separate words, although phonetically they may be indivisible from the preceding utterance.

  • — wh-question
  • — dubitative, unlikelihood, “perhaps”, “maybe, “it would seem...”
  • á — focus
  • ágé — interrogative (< á + )
  • ásé — discovery, understanding of previously unclear information, “oh, so...”
  • ásgé — second hand information, “I hear...”, “they say...” (< ásé + )
  • khu.aa — contrastive, “however”
  • xháa – softening, “you see”
  • shágdéi — dubitative, likelihood, “perhaps”, “probably”
  • dágáa — emphatic assertion, “indeed”, “for sure”
  • shéi — mild surprise
  • gwáa, gu.áa — strong surprise
  • gwshéi, gushéi — rhetorical interrogative, request for corroboration, “I wonder”, “perhaps”
  • óosh — hypothetical, “as if”, “if only”, “even if”

The combination of the focus á with the demonstratives gives the frequently used particles áyá and áwé, and the less common áhé and áyú. Combination of the interrogative ágé with the demonstratives gives the confirmative particles ákwé and ákyá (ák-hé and ákyú are uncommon), used to elicit a yes/no response from the listener.


The interrogative ágé also usually contracts to ág before tsú “also”, e.g. ág tsú “also?” < ágé + tsú.


The particle is obligatory in forming wh-question phrases. It can be combined with a demonstrative, with the dubitative, the rhetorical interrogative, and the emphatic assertion, as in the list below. In linguistics, an interrogative word is a function word used to introduce an interrogative clause. ...

  • sáwé (< + áwé), sáyá, ... — focused question, “... is that?”
  • sgé (< + ) — dubitative question, “maybe?”, “perhaps?”
  • ságwshéi — “I wonder?”
  • sdágáa (< + dágáa) — “(what) on earth?”, “really?”

Phrasal particles

Phrasal particles may occur after focus particles that occur with or without demonstrative finals. The following are postphrasal particles, thus they may only occur after the phrase that they modify.

  • tsá — “only then”
  • tsú — “also”
  • s'é — “first”, “really!”
  • déi — “now”, “this time”
  • x'wán — “be sure to”
  • tsé — “be sure not to”

Except for x'wán and tsé, the above may occur after the focus particles.


The following are prephrasal particles, i.e. they occur before the phrase that they modify. Naish and Story call these “pre-marginals”.

  • ch'a — “just”, “the very”
  • ch'as — “only”, “just”
  • ch'ú — “even”
  • tlaxh — “very”

Mobile particles

These particles may occur before or after any phrase in a clause.

  • tlei — “just”, “simply”, “just then”
  • déi — “already”, “by now”
  • tsu — “again”, “still”, “some more”

Compare the mobile particle tsu with the postphrasal particle tsú. Both the sentence káaxwei tsu eetéenaxh xhat yatee “I need more coffee” and the sentence káaxwei tsú eetéenaxh xhat yatee “I also need coffee” are acceptable. However the sentence *tsú káaxwei eetéenaxh xhat yatee is syntactically inadmissible because the particle tsú is postphrasal, i.e. it cannot precede the phrase it modifies, in this case the noun phrase káaxwei. The corresponding sentence with the tsu particle in front, tsu káaxwei eetéenaxh xhat yatee “I need coffee again/still” is in contrast syntactically acceptable. Thus a Tlingit listener will recognize the tsu particle in a phrase-initial position without confusion but tone is necessary to distinguish it in a phrase-final position. For this reason the tsu particle is often used prephrasally although it is syntactically admitted in either position. Thus the song name Tsu Héidei Shugaxhtootaan could also be héidei tsu shugaxhtootaan, but placing the tsu in front has the advantage of unambiguity, and thus seems more euphonious to native speakers. Euphony describes flowing and aesthetically pleasing speech. ...


Note that déi is a homonym with the noun déi “path, way, road”. [How are these differentiated in speech?]


The particle tlei is easily confused with tléil “no, not”, but as with the tsu/tsú pair the tone makes them unambiguous.


Sentence-initial particles

These particles may only occur at the front of a sentence. Naish-Story term these “clause marginals”.

  • tléil, l — negative, “not”
  • gwál — dubitative, “perhaps”
  • gu.aal — optative, “hopefully”
  • khaju, xhaju — contrary, “actually”, “in fact”
  • khashde — “I thought...”

External links

References

  • Beck, David. (2001). “Conventionality and lexical classes”, pp. 19–26 in Proceedings of WSCLA 5: The Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas, Gessner, Suzanne; Oh, Sunyoung; & Shiobara, Kayono (eds.). Volume 5 of Working Papers in Linguistics. University of British Columbia: Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Bird, Sonya. (2001). “What is a word? Evidence from a computational approach to Navajo verbal morphology”, pp. 27–35 in Proceedings of WSCLA 5: The Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas, Gessner, Suzanne; Oh, Sunyoung; & Shiobara, Kayono (eds.). Volume 5 of Working Papers in Linguistics. University of British Columbia: Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Boas, Franz. (1917). Grammatical notes on the language of the Tlingit Indians. University of Pennsylvania Museum anthropological publications.
  • Cable, Seth. (2004). A metrical analysis of syncope in Tlingit. Manuscript. [1]
  • Dauenhauer, Nora M.; & Dauenhauer, Richard (Eds.). (1987). Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors. Number 1 in Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature. University of Washington & Sealaska Heritage Foundation: Seattle, Washington.
  • ——— (1990). Haa Tuwunáagu Yís, For Healing Our Spirit. Number 2 in Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature. University of Washington & Sealaska Heritage Foundation: Seattle, Washington.
  • ——— (Eds.). (1994). Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit life stories. Number 3 in Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature. University of Washington & Sealaska Heritage Foundation: Seattle, Washington.
  • ——— (Eds.). (1995). “A Tlingit ceremonial speech by Willie Marks”, pp. 239-244 in Dürr, M; Renner, E.; & Oleschinski, W. (Eds.), Language and Culture in Native North America: Studies in honor of Heinz-Jürgen Pinnow. Number 2 in LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics. LINCOM: Munich, Germany. ISBN 3-89586-004-2.
  • ——— (2000). Beginning Tlingit, 4th ed. Sealaska Heritage Foundation Press: Juneau, Alaska. ISBN 0-9679311-1-8. First edition 1994.
  • ——— (2002). Lingít X'éinax Sá! Say it in Tlingit: A Tlingit phrase book. Sealaska Heritage Institute: Juneau, Alaska. ISBN 0-9679311-1-8.
  • ——— (2002). Intermediate Tlingit (draft). Manuscript.
  • Dauenhauer, Richard. (1974). Text and context of Tlingit oral tradition. PhD dissertation. University of Wisconsin: Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Dryer, Mattew. (1985). “Tlingit: An object-initial language?”, Canadian Journal of Linguistics 30:1–13.
  • Goddard, Pliny Earle. (1920). “Has Tlingit a genetic relationship to Athapascan”, International Journal of American Linguistics 1:266–279.
  • Leer, Jeffery A. (1979). Proto-Athabaskan Verb Stem Variation, Part One: Phonology. Volume 1 in Alaska Native Language Center Research Papers. Alaska Native Language Center: Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • ——— (1990). Tlingit: A portmanteau language family? In P. Baldi (Ed.), Linguistics change and reconstruction methodology (pp. 73-98). Mouton de Gruyter: Berlin, Germany.
  • ——— (1991). The Schetic Categories of the Tlingit verb. PhD dissertation. University of Chicago Department of Linguistics: Chicago, Illinois.
  • ——— (2000). “The negative/irrealis category in Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit”, ch. 6 pp. 101–138 in The Athabaskan Languages: Perspectives on a Native American Language Family, Fernald, Theodore B. & Platero, Paul R. (eds.). Volume 24 in Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics. Oxford University Press: Oxford, England. ISBN 0-19-511947-9.
  • Leer, Jeff; Hitch, David; & Ritter, John. (2001). Interior Tlingit Noun Dictionary: The dialects spoken by Tlingit elders of Carcross and Teslin, Yukon, and Atlin, British Columbia. Yukon Native Language Center: Whitehorse, Yukon. ISBN 1-55242-227-5.
  • Naish, Constance M. (1966). A syntactic study of Tlingit. Master’s dissertation. University of North Dakota.
  • Naish, Constance M.; & Story, Gillian L. (1973). Tlingit verb dictionary. Summer Institute of Linguistics: College, Alaska.
  • ——— (1996). The English-Tlingit dictionary: Nouns (3rd ed.; H. Davis & J. Leer, Eds.). Sheldon Jackson College: Sitka, Alaska. (Revision of the Naish-Story dictionary of 1963.)
  • Pinnow, Heinz-Jürgen. (1962). “Two problems of the historical phonology of Na-Dene languages”. International Journal of American Linguistics, 28:162–166.
  • Swanton, John. (1911). “Tlingit”, pp. 159–204 in Handbook of American Indian Languages. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Tlingit language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1523 words)
Tlingit is currently classified as a distinct and separate branch of the Na-Dené family of North American languages, with its closest relative being Eyak.
The Tlingit language is distributed from near the mouth of the Copper River down the open coast of the Gulf of Alaska and throughout almost all of the islands of the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska.
Tlingit was until the late 1960s written exclusively in phonetic transcription in the works of linguists and anthropologists, except for a little known Cyrillic alphabet used for publications by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Tlingit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (10143 words)
The Tlingit are a matrilineal society who developed a complex hunter-gatherer culture in the temperate rainforest of the southeast Alaska coast and the Alexander Archipelago.
The Tlingit language is well known not only for its complex grammar and sound system but also for using certain phonemes which are not heard in almost any other human language.
The Interior Tlingit live along the large interior lakes and the drainage of the Taku River, and subsist in a manner similar to their Athabascan neighbors in the mixed spruce taiga.
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