|Native to||Canada, United States|
|Region||Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska|
|370 in Canada (2011 census)
300 in United States (2007)
|Latin (Northern Athabaskan alphabet)|
Official language in
|Northwest Territories (Canada)|
The Gwich’in language is the Athabaskan language of the Gwich’in indigenous people. It is also known in older or dialect-specific publications as Kutchin, Takudh, Tukudh, or Loucheux. In the Northwest Territories and Yukon of Canada, it is used principally in the towns of Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Old Crow, and Tsiigehtchic (formerly Arctic Red River). There are about 430 Gwich’in speakers in Canada out of a total Gwich’in population of 1,900.
In Alaska, Gwich’in is spoken in Beaver, Circle, Fort Yukon, Chalkyitsik, Birch Creek, Arctic Village, Eagle, and Venetie, Alaska. About 300 out of a total Alaska Gwich’in population of 1,100 speak the language.
It is an official language of the Northwest Territories.
The ejective affricate in the name Gwich’in is usually written with symbol U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK, though the correct character for this use (with expected glyph and typographic properties) is U+02BC MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE.
Few Gwichʼin speak their indigenous Gwich’in language. There are two main dialects of Gwich’in, eastern and western, which are delineated roughly at the United States-Canadian border. Each village has unique dialect differences, idioms, and expressions. The Old Crow people in the northern Yukon have approximately the same dialect as those bands living in Venetie and Arctic Village, Alaska. According to the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, Gwich’in is now a "severely endangered" language, with fewer than 150 fluent speakers in Alaska and another 250 in northwest Canada. Projects are underway to document the language, and to enhance the writing and translation skills of younger Gwich'in speakers. In one project lead research associate and fluent speaker Gwich’in elder, Kenneth Frank, works with linguists that include young Gwich'in speakers affiliated with the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to document traditional knowledge of caribou anatomy.
There are several dialects of Gwich’in, including Fort Yukon Gwich’in, Arctic Village Gwich’in, Western Canada Gwich’in (Takudh, Tukudh, Loucheux), and Arctic Red River.
The consonants of Gwichʼin in the standard orthography are listed below (with IPA notation in brackets):
|Nasal||voiced||m /m/||n /n/|
|Plosive||voiced||b /b/||d /d/||dr /ɖ/||g /ɡ/||gw /ɡʷ/|
|voiceless||t /t/||tr /ʈ/||k /k/||kw /kʷ/||’ /ʔ/|
|ejective||t’ /tʼ/||tr’ /ʈʼ/||k’ /kʼ/|
|nasal release||nd /dⁿ/|
|Affricate||voiced||ddh /dð/||dz /dz/||dl /dɮ/||dj /dʒ/|
|voiceless||tth /tθ/||ts /ts/||tl /tɬ/||ch /tʃ/|
|ejective||tth’ /tθʼ/||ts’ /tsʼ/||tl’ /tɬʼ/||ch’ /tʃʼ/|
|nasal release||nj /dʒᶮ/|
|Fricative||voiced||v /v/||dh /ð/||z /z/||zhr /ʐ/||zh /ʒ/||gh /ɣ/||ghw /ɣʷ/|
|voiceless||th /θ/||s /s/||ł /ɬ/||shr /ʂ/||sh /ʃ/||kh /x/||h /h/|
|Approximant||voiced||l /l/||r /ɻ/||y /j/||w /w/|
- a [a]
- e [e]
- i [i]
- o [o]
- u [u]
- aa [aː]
- ee [eː]
- ii [iː]
- oo [oː]
- uu [uː]
- nasal vowels are marked by an ogonek accent, e.g. ą
- low tone is optionally marked with a grave accent, e.g. à
- high tone is never marked
Gwich’in language in place names
Caribou vadzaih are an integral part of First Nations and Inuit oral histories and legends including the Gwich'in creation story of how Gwich’in people and the caribou separated from a single entity. The caribou is the cultural symbol and a keystone subsistence species of the Gwich'in, just as the buffalo is to the Plains Indians. Elders have identified at least 150 descriptive Gwich'in names for all of the bones, organs, and tissues "Associated with the caribou's anatomy are not just descriptive Gwich'in names for all of the body parts including bones, organs, and tissues as well as "an encyclopedia of stories, songs, games, toys, ceremonies, traditional tools, skin clothing, personal names and surnames, and a highly developed ethnic cuisine."
- Gwich’in at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Official Languages of the Northwest Territories (map)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Gwich'in". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Mishler, Craig (2014), Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCOS) http://www.arcus.org/witness-the-arctic/2014/3/article/22797=, retrieved 11 January 2015 Missing or empty
- Holton, Gary (July 16, 2013). "Alaska Native Language Archive: Alaska Place Names". University of Alaska Fairbanks. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- "Vuntut Gwich'in", First Voices, 2001–2013, retrieved 17 January 2014
- Firth, William G., et al. Gwìndòo Nànhʼ Kak Geenjit Gwichʼin Ginjik = More Gwichʼin Words About the Land. Inuvik, N.W.T.: Gwichʼin Renewable Resource Board, 2001.
- Gwichʼin Renewable Resource Board. Nànhʼ Kak Geenjit Gwichʼin Ginjik = Gwichʼin Words About the Land. Inuvik, N.W.T., Canada: Gwichʼin Renewable Resource Board, 1997.
- McDonald. A Grammar of the Tukudh Language. Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Curriculum Division, Dept. of Education, Government of the Northwest Territories, 1972.
- Montgomery, Jane. Gwichʼin Language Lessons Old Crow Dialect. Whitehorse: Yukon Native Language Centre, 1994.
- Northwest Territories. Gwichʼin Legal Terminology. [Yellowknife, N.W.T.]: Dept. of Justice, Govt. of the Northwest Territories, 1993.
- Norwegian-Sawyer, Terry. Gwichʼin Language Lessons Gwichyàh Gwichʼin Dialect (Tsiigèhchik–Arctic Red River). Whitehorse: Yukon Native Language Centre, 1994.
- Peter, Katherine, and Mary L. Pope. Dinjii Zhuu Gwandak = Gwichʼin Stories. [Anchorage]: Alaska State-Operated Schools, Bilingual Programs, 1974.
- Peter, Katherine. A Book of Gwichʼin Athabaskan Poems. College, Alaska: Alaska Native Language Center, Center for Northern Educational Research, University of Alaska, 1974.
- Yukon Native Language Centre. Gwichʼin Listening Exercises Teetlʼit Gwichʼin dialect. Whitehorse: Yukon Native Language Centre, Yukon College, 2003. ISBN 1-55242-167-8
|Gwich’in language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Yukon Native Language Centre: Gwich’in
- Alaska Native Language Center: Gwich’in
- Ettunetle Tutthug Enjit Gichinchik Portions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in Gwich’in