Orthography for North Slavey

The North Slavey orthography.

The phoneme inventory of the North Slavey dialects is presented below.  All North Slavey dialects do not have all these phoneme sounds, some of them are rare, or particular to a North Slavey community.  Listed below this orthography is a chart of the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols for these sounds. 

The North Slavey consonant sounds

The t and k sounds are affricates [tx] and [kx], rather than plain aspirated stops, in the Dene languages that we have studied. Only the true affricates tth [tθʰ], ts [tsʰ], ch [tʃʰ] and tł [tɬʰ] are aspirated. You can see and hear this in the examples of the sounds of North Slavey.

The North Slavey vowel sounds.

The North Slavey dialects have 5 or 6 vowel qualities. The North Slavey dialects are ‘ L tone marked' languages, this mean that the ‘default’ tone is L and is not marked. The H tone is marked on the vowels.  There are two mid-front vowels reported in the orthography written  as 'ə' and 'e'. The vowels may contrast in tone (High or Low), and nasality (oral and nasal) and length (long or short). These contrasts are generally found only in the stems, and minimal pairs are not always available. Vowels tend to be longer in stems than in prefixes.  Vowel length contrast is especially hard to determine. We have provided examples of the vowels that we have found in our data. The long vs short vowel contrast is not present in all North Slavey languages to our knowledge. 

  • ą     Nasal vowel  
  • á     High vowel    (Low tone is unmarked)
  • ą́     High nasal vowel  

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  • Mithun, Marianne (1999). The languages of native North America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
  • Rice, K. (1989). A Grammar of Slave. Berlin, Mouton de Grutyer.

See also Language Materials

Harvey, Chris (2012) LanguageGeek [website] from http://www.languagegeek.com/

denespeechatlas@rochester.edu  © Joyce McDonough 2012