A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1


A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1

Phonology, Lexical Classes, Morphology

Olga Lovick

702 pages
14 figures, 3 maps, 95 tables


February 2020


$85.00 Add to Cart

February 2021


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2020


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1 provides a linguistically accurate written record of the endangered Upper Tanana language. Serving as a descriptive grammar of Upper Tanana, the book meticulously details a language that is currently fluently spoken by approximately fifty people in limited parts of Alaska’s eastern interior and Canada’s Yukon Territory. As part of the Dene (Athabascan) language group, Upper Tanana embodies elements of both the Alaskan and Canadian subgroups of Northern Dene. This is the first comprehensive grammatical description of any of the Alaskan Dene languages.

With the goal of preserving a language no longer consistently taught to younger generations, Olga Lovick’s foundational study is framed within the traditional form of linguistic theory that allows linguists and nonspecialists alike to study a vulnerable language that exists outside the dominant Indo-European mainstream. This text provides a substantive bulwark to protect a language acutely threatened by near-term extinction. In its expansive detailing of the Upper Tanana language, this volume is methodologically oriented toward structural linguistics through approaches focusing on phonology, lexical classes, and morphology. With attention to both detail and thoroughness, Lovick’s comparative approach provides solid grounding for the future survival of the Upper Tanana language.

Author Bio

Olga Lovick is a professor of linguistics and department head at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the editor of a collection of stories of the Tetlin people of Alaska.




A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1 moves an already high bar for work on Dene languages even higher with its in-depth coverage of the standard topics enhanced by sections on the semantics of various morphemes, interjections, and nonverbal predicates. It is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of this language.”—Keren Rice, former president of both the Canadian Linguistic Association and the Linguistic Society of America

Table of Contents

List of Tables xxxv
List of Figures xxxviii
List of Maps xxxix
List of Abbreviations xl
Acknowledgments xliii
Preface xlvi
I Background
1 About this grammar 2
2 About Upper Tanana 13
3 Dialects 23
4 Some cultural background 34
II Phonology
5 Consonants 42
6 Vowels 59
7 Tone 72
8 A historical perspective on the sound system 85
9 Stem-initial fricative lenition 105
10 Syllable structure 119
11 Light and heavy stems 131
12 The practical orthography 136
13 Nouns 146
14 Verbs 168
15 Free postpositions 173
16 Adverbs 211
17 Directionals 224
18 Adjectives and modifiers 263
19 Pronouns 275
20 Numerals 289
21 Other minor word categories 302
IV Morphology
22 Possessor inflection 316
23 Inflection of postpositions 342
24 Verbal morphology: An overview 352
25 Verb theme categories 362
26 Verb stem 392
27 Voice/valence markers 409
28 Subject marking 432
29 Conjugation and mode prefixes 444
30 Qualifiers 462
31 Pronominal prefixes 488
32 Distributive prefix 524
33 Incorporated roots 531
34 Iterative prefix 562
35 Adverbial-derivational prefixes 572
36 Bound postpositions 616
37 Verbal suffixes 631

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