English - Tlingit Dictionary:
How To Use the Naish-Story
Tlingit Writing System
The Tlingit Language Workshop uses the writing system developed by Constance Naish and Gillian Story. Sheldon Jackson College, The University of Alaska at College, and Alaska Methodist University have all agreed to use this writing system for Tlingit.
Although it looks strange at first, it is a good writing system for a number of reasons: 1) each Tlingit sound has its own letter or special combination of letters; 2) each letter or combination of letters always stands for the same sound; 3) you can write Tlingit using a regular typewriter; 4) you can write all dialects equally well-even if some words in this book are not the way you say them, you can pronounce them according to your dialect, and when it is your turn to spell them, spell them the way they sound in your dialect.
The following chart shows the 50 sounds of the Tlingit language as written in the Naish-Story system:
Tlingit Language Sounds d dl dz j g gw g gw t tl ts ch k kw k kw t' tl' ts' ch' k' k'w k' k'w l s sh x xw x xw l' s' x' x'w x' x'w h . n w y á aa í ee é ei ú oo
Some of these letters look like English; some of them do not. Where the sounds of the Tlingit are the same as or similar to English, the letters look like English to avoid confusion. Where the Tlingit sounds are unlike anything in English, each Tlingit sound has its own letter unlike any letter in English. People are often puzzled or frightened at first by these strange letters and ask why we use them.
For example, notice that two rows going across have letters including a ' and that two columns going down have an underlining. It is necessary to underline because Tlingit has 10 sounds far back in the throat that English does not have. Say the Tlingit words for "hill" and "wolf." You will notice that gooch, meaning "wolf" is made farther back in your throat than gooch, meaning "hill." It is important to include the underlining when you spell gooch because otherwise it becomes gooch, which is a different word. The Tlingit alphabet has underlined letters because the Tlingit language has those sounds made back in the throat. The writing system tries to show the Tlingit sound system by making special Tlingit letters for sounds the English language doesn’t have.
People also ask why we write the ' after so many letters. Again, it is to show special Tlingit sounds. For example, say the Tlingit for "his uncle" and "his forehead." You will notice that the second k in the Tlingit word "his forehead" has a catch-in-the -breath, or is made with the Adam's apple bobbing. The ' is used in those sounds made with the Adam's apple bobbing . So, we write "his uncle" as du káak, and "his forehead" is spelled du káak'. Other examples are "eagle" as ch'áak' and "king salmon" as t'á. If you do not use the ' , you have the word tá, which means "sleep."
Some letters look like English, but have Tlingit sounds. For example the l as in Raven as yéil is a Tlingit l and not an English l. Also the x is Tlingit and not English. For example, tíx is " rope". Notice also that xít'aa "broom" is different from the h in hít' as "house".
Now that you know thy there are many new letters in the Tlingit writing system, you are ready for this list of examples. Two examples are given for most of the letters.
HOW TO USE THIS CHART: F I R S T --Read the English word. T H E N --Translate the word into Tlingit. L A S T --Study how the Tlingit is spelled.
For example: read the English "mouth." Translate it into Tlingit. Because it is a common word, you will be able to say it in Tlingit. Then, notice the spelling: x'é. Because you know the sound of the word already, you can now study how to spell the two sounds in the word x'é. Whenever you want to spell a word that has the same sound as the first letter of x'é, you spell it x'. Likewise, whenever you see that letter, just think back to the Tlingit word for "mouth." At first you will have to check back to the chart very often, but soon you will be able to read very fast, and after that you will begin to spell without too much trouble.
THE MAIN RULE IS: Go Slow; don't be afraid of strange letters; and don't be afraid of big words. Go letter by letter. Go Slow.
If you see a new word like yoo x'atánk, stop and look at it letter by letter. It is impossible to learn to read by stabbing in the dark. Instead, take the first letter: y as in yeil -"raven"; oo as in doosh - "cat"; x' as in x'é - "mouth", and so forth. Soon you will have the whole word.
Vowel Tlingit Word English Meaning Extra Example of Vowels in English Words á tás thread was, about, America aa dáanaa money Saab é té stone ten éi kakéin wool, yarn vein í hít house hit ée héen water heel séek belt seek ú gút dime put, pull óo wóo father-in-law moon
In addition to these common vowels, there is one more vowel limited, as far as we know, to the single but common word "hó hó", used frequently at potlatches.
Tlingit Consonants in Alphabetical Order Consonant Tlingit Word English Meaning ch chál storehouse gooch hill ch' ch'áak' eagle d dóosh cat dl dleit white; snow ax keidl my dog dz ax xóodzi my brown bear dzeit ladder, bridge g gooch hill g gooch wolf gw gwéil bag; sack gw jigwéinaa hand towel h héen water j ax jín my hand jigwéinaa hand towel k kéet killer whale k' k'únts potato du káak' his forehead k káa man du waak his eye k' k'ateil pitcher; jug kw nadáakw table sakwnéin bread, flour k'w k'wát' egg tsísk'w (dzík'w) moose; owl kw náakw devilfish tléikw berry k'w k'wátl pot léik'w red snapper l yéil raven l' yéil' elderberry l'ée blanket n náaw liquor s séek belt s' s'eek black bear s'eek (s'eik) smoke sh shál spoon t té stone t' t'á king salmon sít' glacier tl tléik' no keitl dog tl' tl'eik finger ts xóots brown bear ts' ts'ítskw small bird w wasóos cow wa.é you séew rain x xóots brown bear kóox rice tíx dog flea x' tíx' rope x'úx' book; paper x xáat salmon; fish ax hídi my house x' du x'é his mouth xw gáaxw duck x'w gáax'w spawned herring eggs x'éishx'w gray jay; camprobber xw du húnxw his older brother x'w x'wáat' trout y yéil raven táay garden wa.é you . (this letter is the pause that comes in the middle of some words kanas.aat spider
One other mark needs comment: that is the sloping upward line above the words (vowel). Tlingit words have either high or low pitch accent. The voice goes either up or down on each word. When it goes up, we write a line sloping upward; when your voice goes down, we do not write a mark. For example: x'áat (salmon) and xaat (root).
Notice that the possessive suffix i is always the opposite of the pitch of the word: if the word is high, the ending is low, and vice versa:
Pitch Contrast ax xáadi (my salmon) as xaadí (tree root) ax keidlí (my dog) ax dóoshi (my cat)
Other Pitch Contrast Examples sháa (women) shaa (mountain) x' áay (yellow cedar) xaay (steambath house)
HAPPY READING & WRITING!
Practice Reading tás (thread) sháa (women) gán (firewood) káast (barrel) yán (hemlock) dáanaa (money) kagán (light) naa (tribe) at daná (he is drinking) sáak (hooligan, candlefish) shá (head) dúsh (polliwog) sháa (women) dóosh (cat) gán (firewood) gúk (ear) gáan (outside) góok (go ahead) át (thing) ún (shoot it) aat (aunt) óonaa (rifle) at daná (he is drinking) Dei Shú (Haines) dáanaa (money) Dei Shówu hú. (He is in Haines.) té (rock) dei (road) wa.é (you) seit (necklace) tatgé (yesterday) yéin (sea cucumber) dís (moon) kéet (killer whale)
More Practice Words jánwoo wanadóo dahóon i shát i sánee i yádee du shá hás Daa sáyá? Aadóo (Aadú) sáyá? aan shaawát á (it) áa (lake) aaa (yes) jinkaat uháan kasnéist neigóon keijín shayeit du jín dikée Du toowú sigóo du sée du éesh i yéet Wáa sá i yatée? kút i gúk i lú yaa nagút yaa nanúk yaa a nasnúk Dei Shóo yei yatee. Haa tuwáa sigóo i tuwáa gé sigóo? yéil chál gwéil gooch gáa gáx k'únts' du káak' du waak k'áach' k'ateil k'wát k'wátl léik'w lítaa yéil l'ée xóots kóox tíx' x'úx' xáat du x'é
x'eishx'w x'waat' shál jigwéinaa káa gooch t'á hóoch áwé!
There is a final footnote to the writing system used by the Tlingit Language Workshop. Those of you who have learned the Naish-Story writing system will have noticed a few small changes in this introduction. Of the fifty letters in the writing system, we have changed three.
We have changed them in order to make the writing system easier to learn. We have been teachiing the wirting system for a couple of years, and have discovered the major difficulties in learning to read and write Tlingit.
In order to make the system easier to learn, we have REGULARIZED it even more than it was.
Most of the books printed in the original writing system are out of print. Some of you may have the Noun Dictionary, The Gospel of John, and other books produced by Naish-Story.
In the chart below, we give the new system, and in parentheses () the original Naish-Story values. Notice that now all of short vowels are one letter, and all of the long vowels two letters.
Original Naish-Story Values New Vowel Writing System Original Naish-Story Values (u) á aa (a) í ee é ei (o) ú oo o
In addition, we have dropped the final h letter. The h is very useful in the original system, but is difficult because it is often hard to know how to divide words in Tlingit.
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