Dena'ina Alphabet

Dena'ina Alphabet

The Dena'ina alphabet consists of a subset of letters and letter combinations ("blends") from the English alphabet, together with one special character, known as the "barred-l". This is an "L" with a slash through it. Where the barred-l symbol is not available, the backslash \ is sometimes used instead.

Some blended consonants do not occur in the English alphabet. In particular, the apostrophe is often used in combination with another letter (and may occur by itself as a letter). Two "hatted" symbols ŷ and ĥ are used; these may be subsituted with y and hh, repectively. There is no vowel o. The letters f and r are used only in borrowed Russian words. This gives a total of 41 Dena'ina letters or letter combinations.

Although some of the letters and letter combinations in the Dena'ina alphabet are identical to those in the English alphabet, they are not necessarily pronounced in the same way. For example, the Dena'ina letter ch is pronounced very similarly to that in English 'cheese', but the Dena'ina letter h is a very different sound than the English one.

Below are some words that illustrate the sounds in the Dena'ina Alphabet. They are spoken by Helen Dick of Lime Village. Click on the letter to hear an example word.

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' (glottal stop)sh'inI don't know
adeadfall trap
blibushgifry bread
chchidagrandmother
ch'ch'dablanket, robe
ddaz'ifire
dldlin'amouse
dzdzastets'boat pole
eelspruce needle
fguficoffee
ggigaberries
ggggaggabrown bear
ghgheljaymoon
hhałpack
ĥ (hh)ĥukhurry!
iitl'clothes
jjaniday
kkisht'atoo much
k'k'ehporcupine quill
lluts'eghring
łłik'adog
mminłniwater
nniniporcupine
qqilit is no good
q'q'infish eggs
rRayzestbuChristmas
ssemstar
shshansummer
ttenice
t't'ashcharcoal
tltleghoil
tl'tl'iłrope
tsvetsa'ahis daughter
ts'ts'ełq'ione
uushsnowshoes
vvenlake
xchixred ochre, ochre paint
yyuq'sky
ŷnch'u eshch'eŷhe is not breathing
zizingun, rifle
zhezhiit's cold

These recordings were made in Feb 2005 for the Inland Dena'ina Key Words, edited by James Kari. The original publication, including an audio CD, is available from Dena'inaq' Titaztunt. Recordings were converted into Flash audio format for use on this page by Sadie Williams.



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