|Region||British Columbia, Alberta|
|Ethnicity||1,560 Danezaa in 5 of 7 communities (2014, FPCC)|
|160 in 5 of 7 communities (2014, FPCC)|
Beaver, also known as Tsattine and by the people themselves as Danezaa (ᑕᓀᖚ Dane-zaa, Dunneza) or Dane-zaa Zaageʔ ("people-regular language"), is an Athabascan language of western Canada. About half of the Danezaa people speak the language.
Beaver is closely related to the languages spoken by neighboring Athabaskan groups, such as Slavey, Sekani, Sarcee, Chipewyan, and Kaska.
The dialects of Dane-zaa language are two main groups. Dialects that developed high tone from stem-final glottalic consonants are called high-marked and dialects that developed low tone low-marked. From north to south are as follows:
- the High-marked Dane-zaa dialects:
- Boyer River (Alberta) dialect is spoken by members of the Beaver First Nation
- Child Lake (Alberta) dialect is spoken by members of the Beaver First Nation
- Prophet River (British Columbia) dialect is spoken by members of the Prophet River First Nation
- Blueberry River (British Columbia) dialect is spoken by members of the Blueberry River First Nation
- Doig River (British Columbia) dialect is spoken by members of the Doig River First Nation
- the Low-marked Dane-zaa dialects:
Use and number of speakers
A 1991 estimate gave 300 total speakers out of a population of 600 Dane-zaa people. As of 2007, Dane-zaa Zaageʔ was spoken "in eastern British Columbia (in the communities of Doig River (Hanás̱ Saahgéʔ), Blueberry, Halfway River, Hudson Hope, and Prophet River) and in northwestern Alberta (in the communities of Horse Lakes, Clear Hills, Boyer River (Rocky Lane), Rock Lane, and Child Lake (Eleske) Reserves)." A 2011 CD by Garry Oker features traditional Beaver language chanting with world beat and country music.
English is now the first language of most Dane-zaa children, and of many adults in the Dane-zaa communities. Dane-zaa Zaageʔ was the primary language until the grandparents and parents started to send their children to school in the 1950s. English only became dominant in the 1980s. Because the language is orally based, Dane-zaa Zaageʔ becomes increasingly endangered as the fluent speakers pass away.
In 2004-2011, the language as spoken by the elders of the Beaver First Nations communities in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada was collected as part of the DoBeS Beaver documentation project. The intent was to document an endangered language from a place names' perspective, collecting place names along with stories of culturally relevant locations and personal migration stories, allowing for the exploration of spatial expressions in the language. These materials, along with other grammatical and pedagogical items, are held in the DoBeS Archive and are available for download, subject to agreeing to the terms of access.
Dane-zaa has 35 consonants:
Dane-zaa has 10 phonemic vowels.
Two vowels contrast oral and nasal qualities.
- Beaver at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Figure is for 5 of 6 communities in British Columbia. Number in Alberta unreported.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Beaver". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Julia Colleen Miller 2013. The phonetics of tone in two dialects of Dane-z̲aa (Athabaskan).
- "Ethnologue report for language code: bea". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "Beaver". MultiTree. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "Local Aboriginal Artist Performing at CD Release Celebration (Garry Oker)". Aboriginal Business Centre. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Randoja, Tiina (1990) The Phonology and Morphology of Halfway River Beaver. Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, University of Ottawa.
- Story, Gillian. (1989). Problems of Phonemic Representation in Beaver. In E.-D. Cook & K. Rice (Eds.), Athapaskan Linguistics: Current Perspectives on a Language Family (pp. 63–98). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Bibliography of Materials on the Beaver Language