Tlingit Verb Dictionary


This dictionary has been produced for the interest of Tlingit speakers in particular and we hope that it will give much pleasure to bilingual readers as they compare the two languages, Tlingit and English. We also hope that, for those who want to learn to read Tlingit, it will provide useful practice material. The younger generation may find it useful in enlarging their Tlingit vocabulary.

It is expecting that this work will also be of interest to comparative linguists in providing a listing of Tlingit verb stems and themes in the Tlingit-English section, Part 2. [Not included in web site edition.]

All readers will be more familiar with the English alphabet and so the English-Tlingit section (Part 1) has been put before the Tlingit-English section (Part 2) and all the examples of the verbs in sentences are in Part 1. There are introductions to both Part 1 and Part 2, which explain how each part has been arranged. A study of Part 2 in particular will show some of the richness of the Tlingit language, and the considerable differences between English and Tlingit in word-structure and vocabulary-building. At the end of the dictionary is an appendix which is an outline of Tlingit grammar concentrating on the verb word and verb phrase.

This dictionary is based on the Central dialect, spoken mainly in Juneau, Sitka, Hoonah and Angoon. Words and pronunciations specifically from other dialects have not been included here in general. However, because Angoon has closer ties with Kake than have some of the other Central dialect communities, and because of the presence of some Klawock dialect speakers in Angoon, there may get a few southern words included which are less familiar to some speakers of the Central dialect.

We hope that some bilingual Tlingit speakers will take up the task of producing a full and adequate dictionary of their language, and that this dictionary (together with the previously published Dictionary of Nouns) will provide a helpful starting point for such a project. Native speakers of the language may well wish to provide better examples in many cases, to include verb themes at present missing, to discuss dialect differences, and to give more complete and detailed information on various technical aspects such as verb classes and stem variants.

We would like to acknowledge here our debt of gratitude to all our Tlingit friends who have shared their language with us. In particular, we are indebted to the people of Angoon, among whom we have had our home during the greater part of our time in Alaska. Without them this work could not have been done. The many friends who have helped us there (in giving words, correcting our pronunciation, making meanings clear to us, and so forth) are too numerous to all be mentioned by name. Some have given most generously of their time for other projects; two who gave time specifically for this project are the late Rev. George R. Betts and Mr. Robert Zuboff. Other friends in Juneau have helped us with last-minute queries. In the major finalizing of this work we were helped by Mr. Andrew P. Johnson of Sitka. To all these friends we wish to express our gratitude.

Our thanks are also due to Dr. Orin R. Stratton and the administration of Sheldon Jackson College for freeing Mr. Johnson to help in this way and for their generous assistance in providing housing and the use of their facilities during the compilation stage of this work. It is doubtful whether this project would have been undertaken two winters ago without such help. Delays in publication since then have been in part due to ill health and in part to increasing pressure of other duties.

Gillian L. Story and Constance M. Naish
Goodlow, British Columbia
September 1972