Tutchone language

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Native to Canada
Region Yukon
Ethnicity 2,500 (1,100 Northern Tutchone, 1,400 Southern Tutchone; 2007)[1]
Native speakers
350 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
tce – Southern
ttm – Northern
Glottolog tutc1236[2]

Tutchone is a threatened Athabaskan language spoken in the Yukon Territory in Canada. It has two varieties that are sometimes considered separate languages, Southern Tutchone and Northern Tutchone.

Southern Tutchone is spoken in the Yukon communities of Aishihik, Burwash Landing, Champagne, Haines Junction, Kloo Lake, Klukshu, Lake Laberge, and Whitehorse.

Northern Tutchone is spoken in the Yukon communities of Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Stewart Crossing, Carmacks, and Beaver Creek.


Southern (Dän kʼè)

  • Aishihik dialect
  • Tàaʼan dialect
  • Klukshu dialect
  • Kluane dialect

Northern (Dän kʼí)

  • Big Salmon dialect
  • Pelly Crossing dialect
  • Mayo dialect
  • White River dialect

Vocabulary comparison

The comparison of some words in the two languages.[3]

Northern Southern meaning
łu ¹ ~ łyok ² łu fish
łígī łä̀chʼi one
łä́ki łä̀ki two
tadechʼi tayke three
łénínchʼi dùkʼwän four
hulákʼo kä̀jän five
èkúm ä́kų̀ my house
ninkúm nkų̀ your (sg.) house
ukúm ukų̀ his/her house
dàkúm dákų̀ our house
dàkúm dákų̀ your (pl.) house
huukúm kwäkų̀ / kukų̀ their house

¹ Big Salmon dialect ² Pelly Crossing dialect

Use and revitalization efforts

Jerry Alfred's "Etsi Shon" (Grandfather song), sung in Northern Tuchone, won a Juno Award in the Best Aboriginal Album category in 1996.[4][5]

Southern Tutchone language classes have been offered in Yukon schools since the early 1980ʼs and is now taught in 8 schools in Whitehorse, Haines Junction, and at Kluane Lake.

In 2009, kindergarten classes in Haines Junction began learning Southern Tuchone in a bi-cultural program.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Southern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Northern at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tutchone". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.firstvoices.com/en/Southern-Tutchone
  4. Lynn Van Matre (1966-08-01). "Jerry Alfred & the Medicine Beat Etsi Shon". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Juno Awards Database". junoawards.ca. Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 20 January 2012. External link in |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Launch of Southern Tutchone Bi-cultural School Program" (PDF). Yukon Government News Release. 2009-10-15. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links