Tsek’ehne Sekani Language

Tsek’ehne is spoken in the northern interior of British Columbia, in the area approximately around Williston Lake. There are currently two forms of Roman orthography used for writing Tsek’ehne. They are virtually identical; the only differences are pointed out below in the notes section.

There are examples of the use of Carrier syllabics in the Tsek’ehne nation. Specifically, a tombstone in the McLeod Lake First Nation, which has written on it:

ᐸ ᘇ ᘱ ᐁᔆ ᗸ
ᐈ ᘙᐧᐅᑊᗣᑋ
ᙐᗮ ᗟᒼᗪᕀ 2 ᑓᔆ
ᘇᗟᐪ ᘇᔆᙓᐅ 1904
ᗘ ᐅᐪ ᘛ
1905 ᗘ ᗬᐪᑐᐪᑕᔆᙓᐅ
ha na lhe oos ke
e ji’ult’oh
sub tembur 2 des
nated nassau 1904
whu ut ja
1905 whu bidduddassu

The word spacing on the tombstone is perhaps somewhat irregular, as is the size of the finals: sometimes as tall as the regular syllabics, sometimes very small. The third line, which reads, “ᙐᗮ ᗟᒼᗪᕀ 2,” is certainly “September 2”. The writer also uses many double consonants—especially in the last word—which serve, in a way, to join syllables together. As the language is Carrier, this tombstone indicates that, in the past, Carrier may have served as a literary language for some Tsek’ehne people.

ISO 639-3 language code: sek


The Canadian Census does not independantly count Tsek’ehne. According to Howe and Cook, there are 50 speakers of the language. Sharon Hargus reports 30 to 40 speakers in 1997, mostly older adults.

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.


  bilabial alveolar alveolar affricate lateral palato-alveolar palatal velar velar rounded glottal
voiceless stop b d dz dl j   g gw
aspirated stop   t ts tl ch   k kw  
ejective stop   t’ ts’   ch’   k’ kw’  
voiced fricative     z   zh   gh    
voiceless fricative     s lh sh   kh   h
nasal m n              
resonant w     l   y      
voiceless resonant wh         yh      


  front central back
high i   oo
mid e u o
low   a  


  • Nasal vowels are indicated either by an underline accent ‹a̱› or an ogonek ‹ą›.
  • Low tone is marked by a grave accent ‹à›, high tone is unmarked.
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©2008 Chris Harvey/Languagegeek
Last Modified: 02-Jan-2009