Lower Tanana language

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(Lower) Tanana
Menhti Kenaga
Native to United States
Region Alaska (middle Yukon River, Koyukuk River)
Native speakers
15  (2007)[1]
Latin (Northern Athabaskan alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 taa
Glottolog lowe1425[2]

Lower Tanana (also Tanana and/or Middle Tanana) is an endangered language spoken in Interior Alaska in the lower Tanana River villages of Minto and Nenana. Of about 380 Tanana people in the two villages, about 30 still speak the language. As of 2010, "Speakers who grew up with Lower Tanana as their first language can be found only in the 250-person village of Minto."[3] It is one of the large family of Athabaskan languages, also known as Dené.

The Athabaskan (or Dené) bands who formerly occupied a territory between the Salcha and the Goodpaster rivers spoke a distinct dialect that linguists term the Middle Tanana language.

Dialects[edit]

  • Toklat area dialect: (Tutlʼot)
  • Minto Flats-Nenana River dialect: Minto (Menhti) and Nenana (Nina Noʼ )
  • Chena River dialect: Chena Village (Chʼenoʼ )
  • Salcha River dialect: Salcha (Sol Chaget)

Examples[edit]

  • dena man
  • trʼaxa woman
  • setseya my grandfather
  • setsu my grandmother
  • xwtʼana clan
  • ddheł mountain
  • tu water
  • sresr black bear
  • bedzeyh caribou
  • łiga dog
  • beligaʼ his/her dog
  • kʼwyʼ willow
  • katreth moccasin
  • trʼiyh canoe
  • yoyekoyh Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
  • tena trail
  • khwnʼa river

Songs[edit]

In a 2008–2009 project, linguist Siri Tuttle of the University of Alaska's Native Language Center "worked with elders to translate and document song lyrics, some on file at the language center and some recorded during the project."[4]

"The Minto dialect of Tanana ... allows speakers to occasionally change the number of syllables in longer words."[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Lower) Tanana at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Lower Tanana". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Christopher Eshleman (2010-11-09). "Neal Charlie dies at 91. Minto elder, former chief kept language culture alive". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  4. ^ a b Christopher Eshleman (2010-09-13). "Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Alaska Native Language Center linguist helps document dialects". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Charlie, Teddy. 1992. Ode Setl'oghwnh Da': Long After I Am Gone, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. ISBN 1-55500-045-2
  • Kari, James, Isabel Charlie, Peter John & Evelyn Alexander. 1991. Lower Tanana Athabaskan Listening and Writing Exercises, Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center.
  • Tuttle, Siri. 1998. Metrical and Tonal Structures in Tanana Athabaskan, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington.