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Dene
Dene First Nations:
Birch Narrows Dene Nation
Buffalo River Dene Nation
Clearwater River Dene Nation
English River First Nation

Dene Language Description
In Canada, there are ten major linguistic groups of Indian languages, one of which is the Athapaskan family. We are located in remote places in the Northwest Territories and Northern Saskatchewan. We speak the language of what we refer to as "Deneudene charactersiné" meaning "the real people." Other language groups we have had contact with, sometimes referred to us as Chipewyans. The Cree were the ones to first coin this term, since in their language it meant "the pointed hats." The name Chipewyan has made a big impact on the white settlers and the name is still used today. However, although this name is not derogatory, my brothers and sisters would like to change our name to Dene.

Dene is one of numerous Athapaskan family languages in North America. Within the Dene Nation there is: Slavey, Dogrib, Loucheaux, Gwichin, Navajo, Apache, and of course the afore mentioned Chipewyan of Saskatchewan and Alberta as well as possibly some tribes in Siberia and South America.

Dene settlements are scattered throughout Canada from Saskatchewan into the Northwest Territories and into Northern Alberta and Manitoba.

Dialect Differences:

1. Churchill Bands, Northern Saskatchewan - "d" for "r"

2. Fort Resolution, NWT - "k" for "t"

3. Brochet, Manitoba - "t" for "h"

i.e. Setá hé hegha - He is going there with my father

Sound and Spelling System
There are forty letters in the Dene Roman orthography Alphabet system. These represent the sound of the Dene Language, compared to the twenty-six in the English language. These letters represent thirty-three sounds plus sounds of several combinations. The thirty-one consonants and six vowels (each vowel may also be nasalized and tone, nasal). It is important to note that these vowels are completely separate from the English alphabet, where each character represents one and only one sound.

There are some letters written the same as English, yet the sound is different.

In English: "i" is pronounced like a dipthong as in the word "eye"

In Dene: "i" is pronounced like a long "e" sound, like the first "e" in "eden"

Oral Vowels

i

di(h)

prairie chicken

e

tthe

rock

a

ga

rabbit

o

tdene character'ogh

grass

u

tu

water

Nasal Vowels
dene character

ddene characterghdene character

four

dene character

tthdene character

axe

dene character

chdene character

rain

dene character

nezdene character

good

dene character

thdene characterth

spear

Long Vowels

á

sezaá

my watch

é

néné

country

í

bílé

snare wire

ó

lahót'dene character

similar

ú

tudene characterkútthe

elephant

Consonants
Proposed 31 consonant symbols:

b, d, dh, dl, dz, j, g, t, tth, tdene character, ts, ch, k, t', tth', tdene character', ts', ch', k', dene character', s, sh, hh, l, z, y, gh, m, n, r and dene character.

Most consonants are pronounced similar to their English counterparts, however, there are a few that need special attention.

These twelve consonants are:

dh, ddene character', tth, tdene character', ts', ch', k', t', tth', dene character, hh and gh.

ddene character pronounced like the "cl" in "clipboard"
dh pronounced like "the" as in "the dishes"
tth pronounced like the "th" in "that"
tdene character' sounds like the word "clip" in "clipboard"
ts' This is a stopped sound. Sounds like the "tz" as in the word "pulitzer"
ch' This is also a stopped sound. Sounds like the "ch" as in the word "ch-air"
k' pronounced like the "qu" in "quit"
dene character pronounced like the "glu" in "glucose"
hh This is stopped gutteral sound. Sounds like the "h" as in "Hey"
gh pronounced like the "g" in "german."

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