A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1


A Grammar of Upper Tanana, Volume 1

Phonology, Lexical Classes, Morphology

Olga Lovick

702 pages
13 figures, 4 maps, 94 tables


February 2021


$35.00 Add to Cart

February 2020


$85.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

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 
List of Figures
List of Maps
List of Abbreviations
I Background
1 About this grammar 
2 About Upper Tanana 
3 Dialects 
4 Some cultural background 
II Phonology
5 Consonants 
6 Vowels 
7 Tone
8 A historical perspective on the sound system 
9 Stem-initial fricative lenition
10 Syllable structure
11 Light and heavy stems
12 The practical orthography
III Lexical categories
13 Nouns
14 Verbs
15 Free postpositions
16 Adverbs
17 Directionals
18 Adjectives and modifiers
19 Pronouns
20 Numerals
21 Other minor word categories
IV Morphology
22 Possessor inflection
23 Inflection of postpositions
24 Verbal morphology: An overview
25 Verb theme categories
26 Verb stem
27 Voice/valence markers
28 Subject marking
29 Conjugation and mode prefixes
30 Qualifiers
31 Pronominal prefixes
32 Distributive prefix
33 Incorporated roots
34 Iterative prefix
35 Adverbial-derivational prefixes
36 Bound postpositions
37 Verbal suffixes

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