• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 47s

Tlingit to-go: Sealaska launches language app

By Heather Hintze 8:15 PM September 6, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

Learning a new language means starting with the basics, and Tlingit students now have a new teaching tool. The Sealaska Heritage Institute launched an app that brings sights and sounds to your cell phone.

Shirley Kendall, a Tlingit instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said it’s important to get the right pronunciations when you’re trying to take up Tlingit.

“They can listen to the sounds but I tell the students, ‘Look at my mouth,’ so they know how to form the letters,” she said.

The Tlingit alphabet has more than 50 letters, including eight different exes: x, xw, x’, x’w, x, xw, x’w, and x’. Tlingit teaching assistant Kyle Worl said there are also four sounds not found in any other known language.

“The guttural ejective X,” he sounded out. “Then you can round it.”

While Kendall said the best way to learn is from hearing others speak, she said anything helps to revitalize the language with just a few hundred native speakers left.

“They actually predicted the language would be extinct by the year 2000,” she said. “I guess how they estimated that is by our age. I’m 84 and I’m still here and I try to keep it alive.”

Keeping it alive and thriving for a new generation of people. Worl said learning the sounds of his Southeast ancestors is a way to bring the language back to life.

“Our culture is the same thing as our language. So in order to be Tlingit I should speak Tlingit,” he said. “Going to class twice a week for an hour and a half you’re never going to learn the language like that so it’s important we take the language wherever we go and use it every single day.”

The same games and quizzes on the new app are available on desktop computers too.

KTVA 11′s Heather Hintze can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Panel pitches plan to eliminate cashable oil tax credits

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:51

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – An Alaska Senate committee has proposed eliminating cash credits for oil and gas companies that lawmakers have increasingly come to see as unaffordable. The proposal doesn’t delve as deeply into oil tax policy as the version that passed the House. But the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says an initial review […]

  • Ex-‘Deadliest Catch’ star arrested on drug charges

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:47

    PHOENIX (AP) – A former reality television star has been arrested in Phoenix for alleged vehicle theft and drug possession. Phoenix police say 31-year-old Jacob Harris was released on his own recognizance Monday after his initial court appearance. He faces a May 5 status conference. Harris was on Discovery channel’s “Deadliest Catch” series. According to […]

  • We may be underestimating whale-boat collisions

    by Associated Press on Apr 24, 21:34

    PORTLAND, Maine — A group of marine scientists says collisions of whales and boats off of the New England coast may be more common than previously thought. The scientists focused on the humpback whale population in the southern Gulf of Maine, a body of water off of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. They found that […]

  • Man gets 4 years in Anchorage bank robbery

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 24, 21:25

    An Anchorage man has been sentenced to serve four years behind bars following a conviction for a 2016 bank robbery. Scott Hartvig McDowell, 49, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release in connection with the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union robbery that occurred on August 2, 2016. McDowell presented […]

  • News

    Aurora watchers spot something new in night sky

    by CBS News on Apr 24, 21:00

    Citizen scientists looking at the northern lights appear to have stumbled upon a new natural phenomenon. Members of the Facebook group Alberta Aurora Chasers posted photos of a mysterious purple streak cutting through the night’s sky. In their early posts, the group’s members referred to the streak of purple light as a “proton arc” — […]

  • Juneau playground fire ‘possibly arson’

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 24, 20:52

    A fire broke out Monday evening at a popular child’s playground in Juneau. The Twin Lakes playground went up in flames in the 5 o’clock hour Monday evening, and the $250,000-worth of playground equipment is a total loss. No injuries were reported, according to Capital City Fire and Rescue. The Fire Marshal is investigating the […]

  • News

    Alaskans might need passport for flights, military base access

    by Liz Raines on Apr 24, 19:38

    If state lawmakers don’t pass new legislation soon, Alaskans may not be able to use their  State of Alaska driver’s license to fly or access military bases.  That’s because of the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005, designed to create minimum security standards for all state ID cards nationwide. Now, 12 years later, the […]

  • News

    Crowd packs 4th Avenue Theater meeting

    by Lauren Maxwell on Apr 24, 17:49

    Meetings of the State’s Historic Preservation Commission don’t always draw big crowds, but on Monday morning, the room was packed. People came to testify before the Commission as to why they believed Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theater should be designated a historic monument by the state. Judy Bittner, chair of the commission, said the hearing was […]