INTRODUCTION: Lesson 1
Task One: Tahltan Language
The Tałtan language is a south-western dialect of the Dene Language Family. Dene is part of the larger Na-Dene Language. Tałtān remains alive in the Tahltan communities of Iskut, Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake, British Columbia. However, it is an endangered language. In terms of language viability Tałtan has less than 20 native speakers; the majority of the fluent speakers are over the age of 60.
Traditionally Tałtan, like all Na-Dene languages, is an oral language. Oral meaning it is traditionally passed on from one generation to the next solely through verbal communication. It has only been very recently that a Tałtan practical orthography (writing system) has been developed and introduced.
Na-Dene Language Family
The Na-Dene Language family is a Native North American Language that is spoken from as far north, as what is now known, as Alaska, into Canada, the South-eastern United States and Mexico. Na-Dene is considered to be the second largest language group on the North American continent and it includesl the Haida, Tlingit, Eyak and the northern and southern Dene.
Tahltan belongs to the northern Dene. There are at least 21 recognized Dene dialects and many variations within each group. In the Tałtan dialect there are three variations; Iskut, Dease and Telegraph. For more information on the geography of the greater Na-Dene Language refer to map in fig. 1.