Deg Xinag language

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Deg Xinag
Deg Hit'an
Native toUnited States
RegionAlaska (lower Yukon River, Anvik River, Innoko River)
Ethnicity280 Deg Hitʼan (2007)[1]
Native speakers
Latin (Northern Athabaskan alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3ing
ELPDeg Xinag

Deg Xinag is a Northern Athabascan language spoken by the Deg Hitʼan peoples of the GASH region. The GASH region consists of the villages of Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, and Holy Cross along the lower Yukon River in Interior Alaska. The language is severely endangered;[3] out of an ethnic population of approximately 250 people, only 14 people still speak the language.[4]

The language was referred to as Ingalik by Osgood (1936). While this term sometimes still appears in the literature, it is today considered pejorative. The word "Ingalik" is from the Yupʼik Eskimo language: Ingqiliq, meaning "Indian".

Engithidong Xugixudhoy (Their Stories of Long Ago), a collection of traditional folk tales in Deg Xinag by the elder Belle Deacon, was published in 1987 by the Alaska Native Language Center.[5] A literacy manual with accompanying audiotapes was published in 1993.


There are two main dialects: Yukon and Kuskokwim. The Yukon dialect (Yukon Deg Xinag, Yukon Ingalik) is the traditional language of the villages of the Lower Yukon River (Anvik, Shageluk and Holy Cross).[6] As of 2009, there are no longer any speakers living in Anvik and Holy Cross. The other dialect (Kuskokwim Deg Xinag, Kuskokwim Ingalik) is the traditional language of the settlements of Middle Kuskokwim.[7]



Here is the list of consonant sounds in Deg Xinag orthography, accompanied by their pronunciation noted in brackets in IPA:[8]

Consonants in Deg Xinag
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral
Plosive plain b [p] d [t] g [k] G [q] ʼ [ʔ]
aspirated p [pʰ] t [tʰ] k [kʰ] q [qʰ]
ejective [tʼ] [kʼ] [qʼ]
Affricate plain ddh [tθ] dz [ts] dl [tɬ] j [tʃ] dr [ʈʂ]
aspirated tth [tθʰ] ts [tsʰ] [tɬʰ] ch [tʃʰ] tr [ʈʂʰ]
ejective tthʼ [tθʼ] tsʼ [tsʼ] tłʼ [tɬʼ] chʼ [tʃʼ] trʼ [ʈʂʼ]
Fricative voiceless th [θ] s [s] ł [ɬ] sh [ʃ] sr [ʂ] x [χ] h [h]
voiced v [v] dh [ð] z [z] zr [ʐ] yh [ʝ] gh [ʁ]
Nasal voiced m [m] n [n] ng [ŋ]
voiceless mh [m̥] nh [n̥] ngh [ŋ̊]
glottalized m' [mˀ] n' [nˀ] ng' [ŋˀ]
Approximant voiced l [l] y [j]
glottalized y' [jˀ]

In final position, consonant sounds /t, tθ, ts, tɬ, ʈʂ, tʃ, k, q/ are voiced as [d, dð, dz, dɮ, ɖʐ, dʒ, ɡ, ɢ].


Vowels in Deg Xinag are [a e ə o ʊ].


  • qʼuntʼogh - airplane
  • ggagg - animal
  • ggagg chux - bear (lit. 'big animal')
  • sraqay - children
  • dran - day
  • xikʼugiłʼanh - doctor, nurse
  • łegg - fish
  • łek - dog
  • sileg - my dog
  • vileg - her dog
  • tso tlʼogh iy - mammoth
  • dinaʼ kʼidz - doll (lit. 'little person')
  • xidondiditey - door
  • nganʼ ditʼanh - earthquake
  • sitoʼ - my father
  • vitoʼ - her father
  • yix - house
  • tinh - ice
  • dangan - iron, metal
  • deloy - mountain
  • vanhgiq - Indian ice cream
  • choghlugguy (in Anvik); niq'asrt'ay (in Shageluk) - fox
  • vinixiłyiq - in the morning
  • Ade' ndadz dengit'a - Hello, how are you?
  • giłiq - one
  • teqa - two
  • togg - three
  • denhchʼe - four
  • niłqʼosnal giłiggi viqʼidz iy - eleven[9]


  1. ^ a b Deg Xinag at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Did you know Deg Xinag is severely endangered?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Deacon, Belle & James Kari. 1987. Engithidong Xugixudhoy (Their Stories of Long Ago.). Alaska Native Language Archive.[1]
  6. ^ Leonard, Beth R. (2007). Deg Xinag Oral Traditions: Reconnecting Indigenous Language And Education Through Traditional Narratives (Thesis thesis).
  7. ^ Sharon Hargus 2009.Vowel quality and duration in Yukon Deg Xinag, University of Washington
  8. ^ Hargus, Sharon (2009). Vowel quality and duration in Yukon Deg Xinag. University of Washington.
  9. ^ Deg Xinag Ałixi Ni’elyoy / Deg Xinag Learners' Dictionary (2007)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ekada, Patricia J. "Athabascan Culture-From the Lower Yukon Area". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Hargus, Sharon. (2000). The Qualifier Prefixes in Yukon Deg Xinag (Ingalik). International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 1-21.
  • Hargus, Sharon. (2008). Deg Xinag lateral affricates: Phonetic and historical perspectives. Poster presented at annual meeting of Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, Chicago.
  • Kari, James. (1978). Deg Xinag (Ingalik) Noun Dictionary. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center.
  • Leonard, Beth R. (2007). Deg Xinag oral traditions: Reconnecting Indigenous language and education through traditional narratives (Doctoral dissertation).
  • Osgood, Cornelius. (1936). The Distribution of the Northern Athapaskan Indians. (Yale University Publications in Anthropology, no. 7). New Haven: Yale University.
  • Taff, Alice. (1997). Learning ancestral languages by telephone: Creating situations for language use [∗Ingalik; Telephone Conversation]. Teaching Indigenous Languages. Fairbanks: University of Alaska.