Chipewyan language

Chipewyan language
Dene Suline
ᑌᓀᓱᒼᕄᓀ Dëne Sųłiné
Spoken in Canada
Region Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba; southern Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Ethnicity Chipewyan people
Native speakers 11,900  (2006)[1]
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-2 chp
ISO 639-3 chp

Dene Suline or Chipewyan (also Dëne Sųłiné, Dene Sųłiné, Dene Suliné, Dëne Suliné, Dene Soun’liné or just Dene) is the language spoken by the Chipewyan people of central Canada. It is a part of the Athabaskan family. Dene Suline has over 11,000 speakers in Canada, mostly in Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories,[1] but only has official status in the Northwest Territories alongside 8 other aboriginal languages: Cree, Dogrib, Gwich’in, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey and South Slavey.[2]




The 39 consonants of Dene Suline:

  Bilabial Inter-
Dental Post-
Velar/Uvular Glottal
central lateral plain labial
Nasal m m   n n          
Plosive plain b p   d t     g k gw  
aspirated     t     k kw kʷʰ  
ejective         kwʼ kʼʷ ɂ ʔ
Affricate plain   ddh dz ts dl j      
aspirated   tth tθʰ ts tsʰ tɬʰ ch tʃʰ      
ejective   tthʼ tθʼ tsʼ tsʼ tłʼ tɬʼ chʼ tʃʼ      
Fricative voiceless   th θ s s ł ɬ sh ʃ hh χ hhw χʷ h h
voiced   dh ð z z l ɮ zh ʒ gh ʁ ghw ʁʷ  
Trill     r r          

The "velar" fricatives are actually uvular.


Dene Suline has vowels of 6 differing qualities.

  Front Central Back
Close i i   u u
Close-mid ë/e e   o o
Open-mid e ɛ    
Open   a a  

Most vowels can be either

As a result, Dene Suline has 18 phonemic vowels:

  Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close oral i     u
nasal ĩ ĩː     ũ ũː
Close-mid e       o  
Open-mid oral ɛ ɛː        
nasal ɛ̃ ɛ̃ː        
Open oral     a    
nasal     ã ãː    

Dene Suline also has 9 oral and nasal diphthongs of the form vowel + /j/.

  Front Central Back
oral nasal oral nasal oral nasal
Close         uj ũj
Mid ej ẽj əj   oj õj
Open     aj ãj    


Dene Suline has two tones:

  • high
  • low

See also


  1. ^ a b Statistics Canada: 2006 Census Sum of 'Chipewyan' and 'Dene'.
  2. ^ Northwest Territories Official Languages Act, 1988 (as amended 1988, 1991-1992, 2003)

External links


  • Cook, Eung-Do. (2004). A grammar of Dëne Sųłiné (Chipewyan). Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics - Special Athabaskan Number, Memoir 17. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics. ISBN 0-921064-17-9.
  • Cook, Eung-Do. 2006. "The Patterns of Consonantal Acquisition and Change in Chipewyan (Dene Suline)". International Journal of American Linguistics. 72, no. 2: 236.
  • De Reuse, Willem. 2006. "A Grammar of Dene Suline (Chipewyan) (Cook)". International Journal of American Linguistics. 72, no. 4: 535.
  • Elford, Leon W. Dene sųłiné yati ditł'ísé = Dene sųłiné reader. Prince Albert, SK: Northern Canada Mission Distributors, 2001. ISBN 1896968287
  • Gessner, S. 2005. "Properties of Tone in Dene Suline". Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science. Series IV, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. 269: 229-248.
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version:
  • Li, Fang-Kuei. (1946). Chipewyan. In C. Osgood & H. Hoijer (Eds.), Linguistic structures of native America (pp. 398–423). New York: The Viking fund publications in anthropology (No. 6). (Reprinted 1963, 1965, 1967, & 1971, New York: Johnson Reprint Corp.).

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chipewyan — or Chipewayan [chip′əwā′ənchip΄ə wī′ən] n. [Cree ochiipwayaaniiw, lit., one who has pointed skins or hides: prob. in allusion to the Chipewyans style of hunting shirts] 1. a member of a North American Indian people of NW Canada 2. the Athabaskan… …   English World dictionary

  • Chipewyan people — Aboriginal peoples in Canada …   Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — The Chipewyan ( Denésoliné or Dënesųłiné ) are a Dene Aboriginal people in Canada, whose ancestors were the Taltheilei. There are approximately 11,000 Chipewyan living in the Canadian Arctic regions around Hudson Bay, including Manitoba and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — Die Chipewyan (engl. Aussprache: ‘Chip uh WHY an’), Denesuline (auch Denésoliné, Dënesųłiné ‘Volk des kargen, öden Landes’, sprich ‘Den a sooth leh na’ in Chipewyan, engl: Aussprache: ‘Dene su lee neh’)[1] oder einfach Dene (sprich: ‘den ay’)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chipewyan — /chip euh wuy euhn/, n., pl. Chipewyans, (esp. collectively) Chipewyan for 1. 1. a member of a North American Indian tribe that inhabits northwestern Canada between Hudson Bay and the Rocky Mountains. 2. the Athabaskan language spoken by the… …   Universalium

  • Chipewyan — noun 1. a member of the Athapaskan people living in western Canada between Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay • Hypernyms: ↑Athapaskan, ↑Athapascan, ↑Athabaskan, ↑Athabascan 2. the language spoken by the Chipewyan • Syn: ↑Chippewyan, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • language — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) System of communication Nouns 1. language, tongue, lingo, vernacular, mother tongue, protolanguage; living or dead language; idiom, parlance, phraseology; wording; dialect, patois, cant, jargon, lingo,… …   English dictionary for students

  • Chipewyan — n. Native American people comprising of numerous independent bands who live in a large area of north west Canada; member of this people n. Athabaskan language spoken by the Chipewyan people …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Chipewyan — [ˌtʃɪpə wʌɪən] noun (plural same or Chipewyans) 1》 a member of a Dene people of NW Canada. Compare with Chippewa. 2》 the Athabaskan language of the Chipewyan. Origin from Cree, lit. (wearing) pointed skin (garments) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Chipewyan — Chip•e•wy•an [[t]ˌtʃɪp əˈwaɪ ən[/t]] n. pl. ans, (esp. collectively) an. 1) peo a member of an American Indian people of subarctic Canada, living in scattered communities from Hudson Bay W to Great Slave Lake and NE Alberta 2) peo the Athabaskan… …   From formal English to slang

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