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School District #54
Bulkley Valley

Sharing the video resources that are available on the School District 54 website 


Witsuwit'en Grammer
By Sharon Hargus

Phonetics - Phonology - Morphology

Witsuwit’en is an endangered First Nations language spoken in western-central British Columbia. A member of the Athapaskan family of languages, the language had been known to have some intriguing characteristics of consonant-vowel interaction, the details of which have been in dispute among scholars.

Witsuwit’en Grammar presents acoustic studies of several aspects of Witsuwit’en phonetics, including vowel quality, vowel quantity, ejectives, voice quality, and stress. Information about the sound system and word structure of Witsuwit’en is also provided, revealing many unusual features not previously described in this level of detail for an Athapaskan language.

Witsuwit’en has elaborate morphology, even by the standards of the Athapaskan language family. Witsuwit’en Grammar will be of interest to anthropologists interested in the history of the Athapasakan language family, linguists interested in comparative Athapaskan grammar, or any linguist interested in phonetics-phonology or phonology-morphology interaction.

Witsuwit'en Hinic (Language) ResourceS

Tsë Cakh Wit'en: An Evening in the Village
A new Witsuwit'en Language learning Resource

Professor Hargus has worked with Witsuwit’en people for almost thirty years, documenting the language and grammar to develop a writing system unique to Witsuwit’en. This in an invaluable language learning resource. It provides an overview of the Witsuwit’en alphabet, compares sounds and words that are similar. It also gives learners a good insight into the complexities of the Witsuwit’en language. The voices of many Tsë Cakh Elders, most of whom have since passed on, were captured in these recordings to teach listeners basic Witsuwit’en and impart the stories and wisdom of the Ancestors, Niwhts’ide’nï.
In 2017, the Witsuwit’en Language and Culture Society (WLCS) forged a partnership with Hagwilget Village to make this precious language learning resource available again to Witsuwit’en learners. The WLCS digitised the audiocassettes, removed as much static and extraneous noise as possible and coordinated the production of this second edition.
Hagwilget Village provided feedback throughout the project and some financial support towards the project’s production.

​The WLCS would also like to acknowledge the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation for supporting this project through its grant program.

We have published a limited number of copies and priority will be given to Witsuwit'en language learners. Given the COVID-19 situation, we are working on a distribution plan to ensure that we can deliver copies safely to each of the six Witsuwit'en communities. We will be contacting you in the coming weeks! For Witsuwit'en people living off-yin tah (outside the territory), please contact the WLCS:

Witsuwi'ten bï yets'olhdic! (Let's speak Witsuwit'en!)

Tsë Cakh Wit’en: An Evening in the Village, originally created by Hagwilget Village in 1991, consisted of two audiocassettes and a Witsuwit’en language-learning booklet, illustrated by Don Monet (Colonialism on Trial) and the late Gisdewe (Gisday Wa) Alfred Joseph, who was instrumental in researching and providing testimony for the renown Delgamuukw & Gisday Wa land claims court case. Linguist Sharon Hargus (University of Washington) compiled most of the content and prepared the original manuscript. Some recordings were made available to her by Jim Kari and Hagwilget Village. Dora Wilson, Alfred Joseph, Carol Eichstaedt, Jim Kari and Stacy Waters provided editorial support in the first project. She also received comments and feedback from several people involved in Moricetown Band’s (now Witset First Nation) Territorial Management Training Program including: Bernie Gellenbeck, Eileen Joseph, Dennis Kale, Warner Naziel, Sister Theresa Joseph, Vern Michell and particularly George Holland and Janet Williams.

Witsuwit'en Alphabet 

This handout introduces the Witsuwit'en alphabet and writing system.  It was utilized in the pilot course, Witsuwit'en Grammar, an un-accredited course delivered via Skype with linguist Sharon Hargus.  

Witsuwit'en Interactive Language Lessons


Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Commands

Basic Witsuwit'en commands like sit down, come here, stop it!

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Food

Basic phrases about preparing and serving food

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Relationships

Basic phrases to discuss positive and negative relationships with others.

Witsuwit'en Language Tree Infographic

An illustration that demonstrates the connection between Witsuwit'en and our language family. 

Witsuwit'en Contrasts 

​This handout introduces the variances in the Witsuwit'en alphabet.  For example i vs. ï

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Hello and Questions

An introduction to common greetings and questions.

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Getting Ready

Basic phrases about getting washed up and dressed

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Personal Comfort/Illness

Basic phrases to discuss personal comfort like feeling hot/cold or feeling sick.  

Witsuwit'en Beginner Phrases - Weather

Basic phrases to talk about the weather.

current state of the language

Since 2016, due to several Elders passing on, the rate of fluency went from 3.6 to 3.3 percent.

The average age of fluent speakers is 70 years old.
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