Tlingit language

Spoken in

Na - Dene

  • Tlingit




Tlingit or Lingít is the language of the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Western Canada. It is generally expected for the Na - Dene language group and is therefore related to the Athabaskan languages. Tlingit is spoken by about 800 native speakers (mainly from older speakers ) and is thus threatened with extinction. In southern Alaska is trying to revive special programs with the language and culture and preserve it.


Many researchers Tlingit is summarized along with the Eyak and Athabaskan languages ​​to the so-called Na - Dene languages. However, the specialists Krauss and Golla (1981 ) formulate more carefully:

Since the Haida is now generally no longer expected to Na - Dene, results in the following classification, which, however, is not entirely ruled out that the Tlingit is a language isolate.

  • Na - Dene languages Tlingit
  • Eyak Athapaskisch Eyak
  • Athapaskisch

For the position of the Tlingit in the hypothetical Dene - Caucasian see the article on this macro family.


About the history of Tlinglits very little is known, especially since there are no written records before the first contact with Europeans around 1790 and they are also then only sparsely and irregularly until the early 20th century. The language seems to have spread northward from Ketchikan Saxman area in the Chilkatregion, as some conservative features have been reduced gradually to the north.


Tlingit is divided into four main dialects are mutually intelligible substantially. The northern dialect is mainly spoken in the region south of Lituya Bay to Frederick Sound. From the south of Frederick Sound to the border between Alaska and Canada, the southern dialect is spoken, except Annette Iceland, the reservation of the Tsimshian, and the southern end of Prince of Wales Island, the land of Kaigani Haida. Another dialect, the domestic Tlingit encountered in Canada at the Atlin Lake and the Teslin Lake. Another can be found in the area near Ketchikan Saxman, named as Tongass ( Taanta Kwaan ) Tlingit. It is probably in this order a relic of an intermediate language between Tlingit and Tsimshian.