North Slavey

Northern Slavey is an amalgamation of three separate dialects: K’áshogot’ine (Hare), Sahtúgot’ine (Bear Lake) and Shihgot’ine (Mountain). All are spoken in the western North-West Territories, while Mountain also has speakers in Yukon. There are four “Slavey” dialects/languages: South Slavey, Hare, Mountain, and Bear Lake. Usually they are divided into two orthographical groups: South Slavey and North Slavey (a combination of the other three). However, each community could be said to have its own dialect.

The division of Slavey dialects is based largely on the way each one pronounces the old Proto-Athapaskan sounds *dz *ts *ts’ *s and *z.

Proto-Athapaskan South Slavey Bear Lake Hare Mountain
*dz ddh gw gw/b b
*ts tth kw f >p
*ts’ tth’ kw’ w’ p’
*s th/dh wh/w w f/v

Note: There are several Roman Orthography conventions on this site that may require further explanation. On the charts below, there is lots of phonetic terminology that may not be familiar to everyone.

Dene Syllabics Information

Syllabarium and Syllabics
Text Example in Syllabics and Roman

Keyboard Layouts

Syllabics Keyboards are available
Roman Keyboards are available

Dene Communities

This is a list of the North Slavey speaking communities. In parentheses are the English place name and the dialect spoken there, followed by the number of speakers in that community according to the 2006 Canadian Census.

Tulít’a (Ft. Norman–Mountain) 130

Łe Gǫ́hlįnį (Norman Wells–Mtn) 10

Délįne (Ft. Franklin–Bear Lake) 465

Rádįlįh Kóé (Ft. Good Hope–Hare) 45

K’áhbamį́túé (Colville Lake–Hare) 30


The 2006 Canadian Census (2001 figures in parentheses) indicates 1,235 (1,025) North Slavey speakers, to which would have to be added a portion of the 11,130 (10,585) who are reported as Dene speakers. According to Howe and Cook, there are 3,850 speakers of all Slavey dialects.

Roman Orthography: Consonants

  bilabial alveolar alveolar affricate lateral palato-alveolar palatal velar velar rounded glottal
voiceless stop b d dz dl j   g gw ʔ
aspirated stop p t ts tl ch   k kw  
ejective stop p’ t’ ts’ tl’ ch’   k’ kw’  
voiced fricative v   z   zh   gh wh  
voiceless fricative f   s ł sh   x   h
nasal m n              
nasalised voiced stop mb nd              
resonant   r   l   y   w  
glottalised resonant               w’  

Roman Orthography: Vowels

  front central back
high i   u
mid-high ǝ   o
mid-low e    
low   a  


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