Dene Kǝdǝ́ Resources

Overview

Dene Kǝdǝ́ is part of the Dene-Athabaskan language family. It is spoken in the north-central Sahtú region of the NWT by the Sahtú Dene people.

In 2019, there was 1,080 speakers in the NWT.

Kǝdǝ́ or Kedǝ does not literally mean language but ‘way’ as in the way of speaking. Over time, the original Sahtú cognate for language, Yatı̨́, has become too associated with the term for “priest”, leading to it falling out of favour among speakers.

Speakers may refer to North Slavey as it has long been officially known or one of its three distinct dialects:

  • K’ásho Got’ı̨nę (Hare Dialect – Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake)
  • Sahtú/Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę (Bear Lake Dialect – Délı̨nę)
  • Tulı́tʼa/Shı́hta/Shúhta Got’ı̨nę (Mountain Dialect – Tulita)

A fourth dialect, K’áálǫ Got’ı̨nę (Willow Lake dialect) is sometimes identified. It has largely merged with Shúhta Got’ı̨nę.

Recently, the term Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę has been used to denote Délı̨nę speakers to reduce confusion with the name of the overall Sahtú region that also refers to Great Bear Lake.

Dene Kǝdǝ́ is the primary Indigenous language spoken in:

  • Colville Lake
  • Délı̨nę
  • Norman Wells
  • Tulita
  • Fort Good Hope 

International Standards Organization (ISO) codes

  • Dene Athapascan (macrolanguage) – DEN
  • North Slavey – SCS

Orthographic conventions

Diacritics

  • Acute (high tone): ◌́
  • Ogonek (nasalization): ◌̨
  • No tittle (dot) on «i». Correct forms use «ı» as a base.
  • Dene Kǝdǝ́ is the only Dene language that uses a turned «ǝ» (sounds like «a» in mate). This allows it to be easily differentiated from Dene Zhatıé or Dëne Sųłıné who share other orthographic conventions.

Consonants

ɂ

b

ch

ch’

d

dl

dz

f

g

gh

gw

 

h

j

k

kw

k’

kw’

l

ł

m

n

p

p’

r

s

sh

t

t’

tł’

ts

ts’

 

v

w

wh

w’

x

y

z

zh

 

Vowels

a

á

ą

ą́

e

é

ę

ǝ

ǝ́

ı

ı́

ı̨

ı̨́

o

ó

ǫ

ǫ́

u

ú

ų

ų́

 

Dialectical distinctions

Divergence in the pronunciation and orthography of certain sounds is a distinguishing feature of Dene Kǝdǝ́ dialects.

Dene Zhatıé (South Slavey)

K’ásho Gotʼı̨nę (Hare)

Délı̨nę Gotʼı̨nę (Bear Lake)

Shúhta Got’ı̨nę (Mountain)

ddh

gw/b

gw

b

tth

f

kw

p

tth’

kwʼ

th/dh

w

wh/w

f/v