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Topical dictionary documents Dena'ina language

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902


The Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced publication of the "Dena'ina Topical Dictionary,"Ě the latest in its efforts to document and preserve Alaska's Native languages. Dena'ina, also known as Tanaina, is an Athabascan language spoken by the original inhabitants of the southcentral Alaska region surrounding Cook Inlet. About 75 of the 900 Dena'ina people in Alaska speak their Native language.

According to editor Tom Alton, public awareness and interest in the Dena'ina people has recently increased throughout Southcentral Alaska. He hopes the dictionary will become a functional resource for anyone who would like to learn more about the Dena'ina culture and language.

"The dictionary is very accessible and practical,"Ě Alton said. "It will be a great help to people who want to learn the language and a good source of cultural information and indigenous knowledge."Ě

James Kari, professor emeritus of Athabascan languages, is the dictionary's author. He has worked with over 100 Dena'ina speakers since 1972 in his efforts to compile what is now the most complete topical dictionary for any of the 20 Alaska Native languages.

The "Dena'ina Topical Dictionary"Ě is divided into 32 chapters by topic and separates each of the 6,830 entries into three columns, giving the English term, the Dena'ina word in all known dialects and a literal translation. Nearly 200 photos, maps and drawings accompany the entries.

CONTACT: Tom Alton, editor at the Alaska Native Language Center, at (907) 474-6577 or via e-mail at fntla@uaf.edu. Jim Kari, professor emeritus, at ffjmk@uaf.edu.

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/anlc/

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