Thursday, November 19, 2009

Language of the Tlingit People

Unlike the English alphabet of 26 letters, the Tlingit people have 32 consonants and eight vowels. The Tlingit alphabet is very similar to the shapes of our English alphabet but there are a couple of differences; the letters have underlines on them and apostrophes to distinguish particular sounds. e.g. yéil means Raven while yéil' means elderberry. (notice the second word has an apostrophe after the L.) Researchers found that Tlingit language has 24 sounds that are not related to English sounds. The language is phenomic meaning different tones mean different words. The words in Tlingit have been compared to German because of the gutteral noises that are made. This language is special because it is unlike all of the other languages spoken in Alaska because the noises made are not from that back of throat but from the gut. Many of the consonants have no English equivalents. There are so many different languages spoken in Alaska, it would be something special if I were to learn at least one of them. It sounds like Tlingit would be difficult to learn because of all of the different tones used and how they talk from their gut.

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