Deg Xinag language

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Deg Xinag
Native toUnited States
RegionAlaska (lower Yukon River, Anvik River, Innoko River)
Ethnicity280 Deg Hitʼan (2007)[1]
Extinct2012, with the death of Wilson Deacon[1]
Latin (Northern Athabaskan alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3ing

The Deg Hitʼan language, Deg Xinag, also known as Ingalik, is a moribund Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the Deg Hitʼan peoples in the villages of Shageluk, Anvik, and Holy Cross along the lower Yukon River in Alaska. Out of an ethnic population of approximately 250 people, only 14 people still speak the language.[4]

The language was referred to as Ingalik by Osgood (1936). While this term sometimes still appears in the literature, it is today considered pejorative. The word "Ingalik" is from the Yupʼik Eskimo language: Ingqiliq, meaning "Indian".

Engithidong Xugixudhoy (Their Stories of Long Ago), a collection of traditional folk tales in Deg Xinag by the elder Belle Deacon, was published in 1987 by the Alaska Native Language Center. A literacy manual with accompanying audiotapes was published in 1993.


There are two main dialects: Yukon and Kuskokwim. The Yukon dialect (Yukon Deg Xinag, Yukon Ingalik) is the traditional language of the villages of the Lower Yukon River (Anvik, Shageluk and Holy Cross). As of 2009, there are no longer any speakers living in Anvik and Holy Cross. The other dialect (Kuskokwim Deg Xinag, Kuskokwim Ingalik) is the traditional language of the settlements of Middle Kuskokwim.[5]



Here is the list of consonant sounds in Deg Xinag orthography, accompanied by their pronunciation noted in brackets in IPA[6]:

Consonants in Deg Xinag
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral
Plosive plain b [p] d [t] g [k] G [q] ʼ [ʔ]
aspirated p [pʰ] t [tʰ] k [kʰ] q [qʰ]
ejective [tʼ] [kʼ] [qʼ]
Affricate plain ddh [tθ] dz [ts] dl [tɬ] j [tʃ] dr [ʈʂ]
aspirated tth [tθʰ] ts [tsʰ] [tɬʰ] ch [tʃʰ] tr [ʈʂʰ]
ejective tthʼ [tθʼ] tsʼ [tsʼ] tłʼ [tɬʼ] chʼ [tʃʼ] trʼ [ʈʂʼ]
Fricative voiceless th [θ] s [s] ł [ɬ] sh [ʃ] sr [ʂ] x [χ] h [h]
voiced v [v] dh [ð] z [z] zr [ʐ] yh [ʝ] gh [ʁ]
Nasal voiced m [m] n [n] ng [ŋ]
voiceless mh [m̥] nh [n̥] ngh [ŋ̊]
glottalized m' [mˀ] n' [nˀ] ng' [ŋˀ]
Approximant voiced l [l] y [j]
glottalized y' [jˀ]

In final position, consonant sounds /t, tθ, ts, tɬ, ʈʂ, tʃ, k, q/ are voiced as [d, dð, dz, dl, ɖʐ, dʒ, ɡ, ɢ].


Vowels in Deg Xinag are [a e ə o ʊ].


  • qʼuntʼogh airplane
  • ggagg animal
  • ggagg chux bear (lit. 'big animal')
  • sraqay children
  • dran day
  • xikʼugiłʼanh doctor, nurse
  • łegg fish
  • łek dog
  • sileg my dog
  • vileg her dog
  • tso tlʼogh iy mammoth
  • dinaʼ kʼidz doll (lit. 'little person')
  • xidondiditey door
  • nganʼ ditʼanh earthquake
  • sitoʼ my father
  • vitoʼ her father
  • yix house
  • tinh ice
  • dangan iron, metal
  • deloy mountain
  • vanhgiq Indian ice cream
  • choghlugguy (in Anvik) ; niq'asrt'ay (in Shageluk) fox
  • vinixiłyiq in the morning
  • giłiq one
  • teqa two
  • togg three
  • denhchʼe four
  • niłqʼosnal giłiggi viqʼidz iy eleven[7]


  1. ^ a b Deg Xinag at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Degexit'an". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Krauss, Michael E (2007) "Native languages of Alaska". In: The Vanishing Voices of the Pacific Rim, ed. by Osahito Miyaoko, Osamu Sakiyama, and Michael E. Krauss. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Table 21.1, page 408)
  5. ^ Sharon Hargus 2009.Vowel quality and duration in Yukon Deg Xinag, University of Washington
  6. ^ Hargus, Sharon (2009). Vowel quality and duration in Yukon Deg Xinag. University of Washington.
  7. ^ Deg Xinag Ałixi Ni’elyoy / Deg Xinag Learners' Dictionary (2007)

External links[edit]


  • Alaskan Native Language Center. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
  • Ekada, Patricia J. "Athabascan Culture-From the Lower Yukon Area". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Osgood, Cornelius. 1936. The Distribution of the Northern Athapaskan Indians. (Yale University Publications in Anthropology, no. 7). New Haven: Yale University.