What Is Ahtna language

The Ahtna language or ahtena is a language Na-Dene spoken by the people Ahtna in the region Copper River in Alaska . This language is also known as Copper River or Mednovskiy. There are 80 speakers of the language out of a total of 500, ahtna is at risk of extinction but has been learned by many young people in an attempt to keep it alive. The ahtna language consists of four different dialects, three of the four are still spoken today. Ahtna Ahtna’s language consists of four different dialects: upper, central, lower and western. Three of the four are still spoken today. Ahtna is closely related to the Dena’ina language.

The similar name “Atnah” occurs in the journals of explorer Simon Fraser and other early European day laborers in what is now British Columbia as a reference to the Tsilhqot’in people, another group from North Atabascano.


  • 1Classification
  • 2History
  • 3Geography
  • 4Revitalization
  • 5Dialects and tribes
  • 6Vocabulary
  • 7Grammar
    • 1Verb Themes
    • 2Modification of verb
  • 8Phonology
    • 1Consonants
    • 2Members
  • 9Notes
  • 10External links

Classification [ edit | edit source code ]

Eyak-Atabascano, Atabascano, Northern Atabascano. [ 1 ]

History [ edit | edit source code ]

Ahtna is one of the eleven native Atabascan languages ​​of Alaska. It is part of a language family called Diné. [ 2 ] Ahtna’s language comes from a primitive Atabascan language possibly evolving from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago when humans migrated from Eurasia to the New World on the bottom of the Bering Sea.(Beringia) when it was dried and exposed, creating a natural earth bridge. Many Native American indigenous languages ​​are derived from this proto-Atabascan language, Navajo is a language derived from that primitive language and, consequently, Ahtna and Navajo have many similarities. The Ahtna language has changed a lot and very often it is still changing today. In the past century, more than a hundred words have made their way into Ahtna’s vocabulary, mainly due to Euro-American influences. Contact with the Russians influenced Ahtna’s language, with many Russian loans being introduced. With the contact of English speakers, especially recently, English words were also introduced. Some words are also borrowed from the native Tlingit and Alutiiq people of Alaska. [ 3 ]

Geography [ edit | edit source code ]

The Ahtna region consists of the Copper River basin and the Wrangell Mountains. The Ahtna region borders the Nutzotin River in the northeast and the Alaska Range in the north. The Talkeetna mountains are for the Chugach mountains are for the south. [ 4 ] The Upper Ahtna is spoken at the top of the Cooper River, The Middle or Central Ahtna just below the river, the Lower Ahtna near the mouth of the Copper River, which opens into the Gulf of Alaska, and the Western Ahtna towards the west of the river.

There are about 1000 people today who refer to themselves as Ahtna people and about 50 speakers. The Ahtna people live and approach traditional villages. There are eight villages within the Ahtna region: Cantwell, Chistochina, Chitina, Cooper Center, Gakona, Gulkana, Mentasta and Tazlina. All are recognized by the federal government. [ 5 ]

Revitalization [ edit | edit source code ]

There are 80 speakers out of a population of 500 and the language is becoming extinct. However, many young people are learning Ahtna to try to keep the language alive. Ya Ne Dah Ah School in Sutton, Alaska teaches the Ahtna language as part of its curriculum. [ 6 ] [ 7 ] As of 2010, the digital archiving project of Ahtna was underway. [ 8 ] Livelihood and fisheries activist Katie John (1915-2013) from Mentasta Lake, Alaska helped develop an Ahtna alphabet in the 1970s [ 9 ] and recorded a pronunciation guide for the Mentasta dialect. [ 10 ] [ 11 ]

Dialects and tribes [ edit | edit source code ]

There are four main dialect divisions and eight tribal unions: [ 12 ]

  • Lower Ahtna(own name Atnahwt’aene )
    • Chitina / Taral – Tribe
    • Tonsina / Klutina – Tribe
  • Central Ahtnaor Middle Ahtna (autonomous Dan’ehwt’aene )
    • Gulkona / Gakona – Tribe
  • West Ahtnaself-named Tsaay Hwt’aene )
    • Tyone / Mendeltna – Tribe
    • Cantwell / Denali – Tribe
  • Alto Ahtna(autonomous Tatl’ahwt’aene )
    • Sanford / Chistochina River – Tribe [13 ]
    • Slana / Batzulnetas – Tribe
    • Mentasta – Tribe [10 ]

Vocabulary [ edit | edit source code ]

The comparison of some animal names in the three Atabascan languages: [ 14 ]

Ahtna Tanacross Bass Tanana meaning
udzih wudzih bedzeyh caribou
ggax gah gwx Bunny
tsa ‘ tsa ‘ tso ‘ beaver
dzen dzenh dzenh muskrat
niduuyi niidûuy niduuy lynx
debae demee deba dall ram
SOS shos sresr bear
dliigi dlêg dlega squirrel
łuk’ae łuk’a łuk’a salmon

Grammar [ edit | edit source code ]

Words that are apparently complex can be pronounced using simple English grammatical patterns. For example, “rice is pronounced [goo kenell-chee-nee], which literally (lit.) means” looks like worms “. [ 3 ] Because of Ahtna’s different dialects, many people pronounce the same words differently.

Verb themes [ edit | edit source code ]

Verbs are mainly prefixed. There are usually six or more prefixes before the stem and then one or more suffixes. (1a) displays a surface shape in Ahtna spelling while (1b) is the verb theme. Three prefixes are present that need to be listed with the trunk to form the form. Anything adjacent to a verb theme can be separated by morphemes on the surface of forms. [ 15 ] Verb themes display what elements should be listed in a dictionary for a speaker to be able to reconstruct the verb. ‘#’ displays an important word-internal boundary known as a disjunct boundary. ‘+’ indicates a boundary morpheme. [ 15 ]

(1) a. Tadeldlo ‘

“Water is bubbly” (surface shape)

  1. ok # d + l + dlok ‘

in water # qualifier + classifier ‘laughter’

(Lexical listing: verb theme)

In the Ahtna language, the verb typically goes after the noun.

Verb modification [ edit | edit source code ]

Modifiers usually go after the noun he is modifying in the Ahtna language. Smelcer (1998) provides this example in his Ahtna Language Dictionary: “as in the word for Raven (the deity, trickster), which in Ahtna is called Saghani Ggaay (literally” Little Crow “). Saghani is a noun for the word for the crow species (Corax corax), while ggaay means “small.” Thus, the syntax is actually expressed as “Raven little.” Consider other words like nen ten, the word for permafrost (literally “frozen soil”). nen means “earth or earth”, modifier ten means “frozen.” Thus, the syntax is “Frozen earth.” Other examples include the word for Denali / Mt. McKinley, which is Dghelaay Ce’e (literally The word dghelaay means “Mountain”, while Ce’e means “big, bigger or bigger”). Thus, the syntax is “Big Mountain”. Another example using ce’e is the name of the place for the Lake. Susitna, who is Ben Ce’e (literally “big lake”). In this case, the noun ben is a general term that means lake modified by the word for ‘big or big.’[ 2 ]

Phonology [ edit | edit source code ]

Atabascan languages ​​are basically prefixed. Many prefixes are presented together. There is limited suffixation and often a word has as much meaning as an English sentence. Verbs are very complex, therefore, creating many different meanings or new verbs. Some verbs include syntactic principles in addition and / or substitution of morphological principles when building a word. [ 15 ]

Consonants [ edit | edit source code ]

This table is in the practical Kari spelling and shows the phonology of consonants. It was taken from Ahtna Athabaskan Dictionary. [ 16 ]

Lip Alveolar Side Alveo-






Occlusive Flat b [p] d [t] dl [tɬ] dz [ts] g [k] gg [q] ‘[ʔ]
Aspirated p [pʰ] t [tʰ] tl [tɬʰ] ts [tsʰ] c [kʰ] k [qʰ]
Ejective t ‘[tʼ] tl ‘[tɬʼ] ts’ [tsʼ] c ‘[kʼ] k ‘[qʼ]
Fricative Sonora v [v] l [l] z [z] y [ɣ] gh [ʁ]
Penis hw [hʷ] ł [ɬ] s [s] yh [x] x [χ] h [h]
Nasal m [m] n [n] ng [ŋ]

Vowels [ edit | edit source code ]

This table is in the practical Kari spelling and shows the phonology of the vowels. It was taken from Ahtna Athabaskan Dictionary. [ 17 ]

Long Shorts
Front Later Front Later
Closed ii [iː] uu [uː] i [ɪ] u [ʊ]
Medial oo [oː] and [ɛ] the [ɔ]
Open ae [æ] aa [ɑː] a [ɐ]


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