|Denaakkenaageʼ, Denaakkʼe, Dinaak̲'a|
|Native to||United States|
|Region||Alaska (middle Yukon River, Koyukuk River)|
|Native speakers||300 (2007)|
Koyukon (also called Denaakk'e) is an Athabaskan language spoken along the Koyukuk and middle Yukon River in western interior Alaska. In 2007, the language had approximately 150 speakers, who were generally older adults bilingual in English. Their total ethnic population was 2,300.
Jules Jetté, a French Canadian Jesuit missionary, began recording the language and culture of the Koyukon people in 1898. Considered a fluent Koyukon speaker after spending years in the region, Jette died in 1927. He had made a significant quantity of notes on the Koyukon people, their culture and beliefs, and their language.
Eliza Jones, a Koyukon, came across these manuscripts while studying, and later working, at the University of Alaska in the early 1970s. Working from Jette's notes and in consultation with Koyukon tribal elders, Jones wrote the Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary. It was edited by James Kari and published in 2000 by the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary is unusually comprehensive in terms of documentation of an American indigenous language, in part because Jette's notes were of excellent quality and depth. In addition, he wrote about the language and culture nearly a century ago, when the language was far more widely spoken in daily life and the Koyukon people were living in a more traditional way. The use of the word, "Dictionary", in the title is perhaps misleading; the book is more similar to an encyclopedia, as it also is a record of the culture and traditions of the Koyukon people.
The book includes traditional stories recorded by Catherine Attla and published in 1983 by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Phonology and orthography
|Plain||p 〈b〉||t 〈d〉||ts 〈dz〉||tɬ 〈dl〉||k 〈g〉||q 〈gg〉||ʔ 〈'〉|
|Aspirated||tʰ 〈t〉||tsʰ 〈ts〉||tɬʰ 〈tl〉||kʰ 〈k〉||qʰ 〈kk〉|
|Ejective||tʼ||tsʼ||tɬʼ 〈tl'〉||kʼ||qʼ 〈kk'〉|
|Voiceless||n̥ 〈nh〉||l̥ 〈ł〉||j̊ 〈yh〉|
Plosives and affricates, other than the labial b and the glottal ', distinguish plain, aspirated and ejective forms. Other consonants include labial and alveolar nasals; alveolar, velar and glottal fricatives; and alveolar and palatal approximants. Again other than the labial m and the glottal h, these distinguish forms with and without voice.
There are four full vowels in Koyukon:
- i 〈ee〉
- u 〈oo〉
- æ 〈aa〉
- ɔ 〈o〉
And there are three reduced vowels:
- ʊ 〈u〉
- ə 〈e〉
- ɞ 〈ʉ〉
In 2012, Susan Pavskan reported:
On Thursday evenings Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) classes are held at Yukon-Koyukuk School District offices in Fairbanks and Huslia. About 18 people from four generations attended Thursday over video-conference. At the end of class, I demonstrated how MP3 sound files can be imported into iTunes then synced with iPads or iPods. The students demonstrated these to their parents and grandparents.
- Attla, Catherine. 1983. Sitsiy Yugh NoholnikTs'in': As My Grandfather Told It. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center and Yukon-Koyukuk School District.
- Axelrod, Melissa. (1990). "Incorporation in Koyukon Athabaskan", International Journal of American Linguistics 56, 179-195.
- Axelrod, Melissa. (1993). The Semantics of Time: Aspectual Categorization in Koyukon Athabaskan. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- Axelrod, Melissa. 2000. “The Semantics of Classification in Koyukon Athabaskan,” In: The Athabaskan Languages: Perspectives on a Native American Language Family. Fernald, T and Paul R. Platero eds. Oxford University Press.
- Henry, Chief. (1976). K'ooltsaah Ts'in'. Koyukon Riddles. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center.
- Henry, Chief. (1979). Chief Henry Yugh Noholnigee: The Stories Chief Henry Told. (Transcribed and edited by Eliza Jones). Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center.
- Henry, David and Kay Henry. (1969). "Koyukon locationals", Anthropological Linguistics 11(4): 136-42.
- Jette, Jules and Eliza Jones (authors) and James Kari (ed.). (2000). Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center.
- Jones, Eliza. (1986). Koyukon Ethnogeography. Alaska Historical Commission.
- Jones, Eliza, Comp. Junior Dictionary for Central Koyukon Athabaskan: Dinaakkanaaga Ts'inh Huyoza. Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, P.O. Box 900111, Fairbanks, AK 99775-0120, 1992.
- Nelson, Richard K. 1986. Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Krauss 2007
- Krauss, Michael E. 2007. "Native languages of Alaska", In: The Vanishing Voices of the Pacific Rim, ed. by Osahito Miyaoko, Osamu Sakiyama, and Michael E. Krauss. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Table 21.1, page 408)
- Axelrod, Melissa (April 1990). "Incorporation in Koyukon Athapaskan". IJAL (Chicago: University of Chicago) 56 (2): 79–95. doi:10.1086/466149. JSTOR 00207071.[dead link]
- Service Book in the Dialect of the Qlīyukuwhūtana Indians: Portions of the Book of Common Prayer in Upper Koyukon (1908) digitized by Richard Mammana
- Alaska Native Language Center
- Word-Lists of the Athabaskan, Yup'ik and Alutiiq Languages by Lt. Laurence Zagoskin, 1847 (containing Koyukon on pages 3–8)