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Hän language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Häł gołan
Native toCanada, United States
RegionYukon, Alaska
EthnicityHän people
Native speakers
5 in Alaska, 1 in Yukon (2020)[1][2]
Latin (Dené alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3haa
Han is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Hän language (alternatively spelled as Haen) (also known as Dawson, Han-Kutchin, Moosehide) is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the Hän Hwëch'in (translated to people who live along the river, sometimes anglicized as Hankutchin). Athabascan refers to the interrelated complexity of languages spoken in Canada and Alaska each with its own dialect: the village of Eagle, Alaska in the United States and the town of Dawson City, Yukon Territory in Canada, though there are also Hän speakers in the nearby city of Fairbanks, Alaska.[4][5] Furthermore, there was a decline in speakers in Dawson City as a result of the influx of gold miners in the mid-19th century.[5]

Hän is in the Northern Athabaskan subgrouping of the Na-Dené language family. It is most closely related to Gwich'in and Upper Tanana.[5]



The consonants of Hän are listed below with IPA notation on the left, the standard orthography in ⟨brackets⟩:[5]

Labial Inter-
Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Velar Glottal
central sibilant lateral
plain p ⟨b⟩ ⟨ddh⟩ t ⟨d⟩ ts ⟨dz⟩ ⟨dl⟩ ⟨j⟩ ʈʂ ⟨dr⟩ k ⟨g⟩ ʔ ⟨ʼ⟩
aspirated ( ⟨p⟩) tθʰ ⟨tth⟩ ⟨t⟩ tsʰ ⟨ts⟩ tɬʰ ⟨tl⟩ tʃʰ ⟨ch⟩ ʈʂʰ ⟨tr⟩ ⟨k⟩
ejective tθʼ ⟨tth’⟩ ⟨t’⟩ tsʼ ⟨ts’⟩ tɬʼ ⟨tl’⟩ tʃʼ ⟨ch’⟩ ʈʂʼ ⟨tr’⟩ ⟨k’⟩
prenasalized ᵐb ⟨mb⟩ ⁿd ⟨nd⟩ ⁿdʒ ⟨nj⟩
Fricative voiceless θ ⟨th⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ɬ ⟨ł⟩ ʃ ⟨sh⟩ ʂ ⟨sr⟩ x ⟨kh⟩ h ⟨h⟩
voiced ð ⟨dh⟩ z ⟨z⟩ ɮ ⟨l⟩ ʒ ⟨zh⟩ ʐ ⟨zr⟩ ɣ ⟨gh⟩
Sonorant voiced m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩ ɻ ⟨r⟩ w ⟨w⟩
voiceless ⟨nh⟩ ⟨yh⟩ ɻ̥ ⟨rh⟩ ⟨wh⟩


Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i ⟨i⟩ ⟨ii⟩ u ⟨u⟩ ⟨uu⟩
Close-mid e ⟨e⟩ ⟨ee⟩ o ⟨o⟩ ⟨oo⟩
Mid ə ⟨ë⟩ əː ⟨ëë⟩
Open æ ⟨a⟩ æː ⟨aa⟩ ɑ ⟨ä⟩ ɑː ⟨ää⟩
Diphthongs æu ⟨aw⟩   æi ⟨ay⟩   ɑu ⟨äw⟩   eu ⟨ew⟩   ei ⟨ey⟩   iu ⟨iw⟩   oi ⟨oy⟩


There are about a dozen people, all elderly, who speak Hän as their native language,[6] though there is a growing second-language speaker community.

The Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in (formerly known as the Dawson First Nation) in the Yukon Territory support the revitalization of Hän, and there are current efforts to revive the language locally. There is an effort to promote traditional skills and finding a balance between the way of the newcomer's which further promotes the development and revitalization of the language.[4] As of April 2024, the last fluent speaker of Hän in Yukon, a 96 year old elder, passed away.[7]

Since 1991, the Robert Service School in Dawson City has hosted the Hän Language program, and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in supports adult language classes and bi-annual cultural gatherings.[5]

There are many other resources used to learn Hän, particularly online ones such as, FirstVoices and Yukon Native Learning Centre. These online learning language tools teach the tradition, culture, history, and the language of Hän.

Further reading[edit]

  • Manker, Jonathan, and Tsuu T’ina Nation (2013). The Syntax of Sluicing in Hän. Dene Languages Conference, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Manker, Jonathan (2014). Tone Specification and the Tone-Bearing Unit (TBU) in Hän Athabascan. WSLCA 19 St. John's, Newfoundland.
  • O’Leary, M. (2017) The Interaction of Wh-movement and Topicalization in Hän. 2016 Dene Language Conference Proceedings, 81–88.
  • Lehman, S. B. & O’Leary, M. (2019). Unexpected Athabaskan Pronouns. In Margit Bowler, Philip T. Duncan, Travis Major, Harold Torrence (eds.), UCLA Working Papers: Schuhschrift: Papers in Honor of Russell Schuh, 122–137.


  1. ^ Governor and Legislature
  2. ^ Galloway, Matt. "At 95, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation's last fluent Hän speaker hopes to pass on as much as he can". www.cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  3. ^ Chappell, Bill (21 April 2014). "Alaska OKs Bill Making Native Languages Official". NPR.
  4. ^ a b "Hän language, alphabet and pronunciation". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Yukon Native Language Centre". ynlc.ca. Archived from the original on 2020-10-16. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  6. ^ "Hän". Ethnologue: Languages of the World.
  7. ^ Pilkington, Caitrin. "Percy Henry remembered as tireless advocate for the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin". www.cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 May 2024.


External links[edit]