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Dena’ina Key Words

A good way to develop a sense for how the various letters of the Dena’ina alphabet can be pronounced is to learn a few key words for each letter of the alphabet. A key word is a word which prominently features the sound in question. Memorizing a key word for a sound will help you to remember how that sound is pronounced. For example, the qil, meaning ‘no good, bad’ is a good key word for the Dena’ina letter q. This is a common word so it is easy to check the pronunciation with speakers. And it corresponds to a sound which does not occur in English.

James Kari has worked with speakers of each dialect of Dena’ina to create recordings of key words for each letter in the alphabet. CD-ROM version are available from Dena’inaq’ Titaztunt.

Not all dialect versions are currently available online.

  • Upper Inlet Keywords by Sava Stephan
  • Iliamna Keywords by Walter Johnson
  • Inland Keywords by Helen Dick
  • Kenai (Outer Inlet) Keywords by Fedosia Sacaloff, Bertha Monfor, and Peter Kalifornsky