Lesson 1 – Introductions

Overview & Goals

This lesson will focus on understanding your audience and the traditions of formal and informal interactions.

After this lesson, students will be able to introduce themselves in Gwich’in Language.

Getting Started with Lesson 1

Before we get started learning vocabulary and grammar. Please do the following:

  1. Read: About the Gwich’in Language  
  2. Read and watch videos: Gwich’in Alphabet & Sounds
  3. Download Dinjii Zhuh Ginjik Nagwan Tr’iÅ‚tsąįį (PDF) – Gwich’in Junior Dictionary. Keep this file for general reference for this course.

Lesson Videos

In this course, there are a variety of methods used for writing and thus some inconsistency in spelling between the lesson video and written lesson materials. Remember from reading the section About the Gwich’in Language  that there are three writing systems in Alaska in addition to the spoken dialects.  Native Gwich’in speakers routinely work with all the writing systems and can understand the various dialects without trouble.  This class focuses first on the spoken word and secondly on the written.  Further study is encouraged through the UAF Alaska Native Language Center (ANLC) courses to learn a more formal version of the writing system.  


There is a specific way an individual introduces themselves in Gwich’in culture. This specific way of introducing oneself is so that people can know from which family that person comes and you will see this in every example introduction video. A person first introduces him or herself in the following way:

  1. name
  2. place where the person was born, and place where the person is currently  living
  3. name of mother
  4. name of father
  5. name of grandmother
  6. first and last name of grandfather

The person introducing her/himself can also include their older or younger brothers or sisters.

Word Order
Place names always go in the  beginning of the sentence. Below is an example of the beginning of an introduction. For example:
Shozhrì’ Jane oozhii. New Jersey gwats’an ihłįį gàa Fairbanks gwihch’įį. (My name is Jane. I am from New Jersey, but I live in Fairbanks.)

Notice the  word order in Gwich’in is different than in English:  New Jersey from (gwats’an) I am (ihłįį) but (gàa) Fairbanks I live (gwihch’įį)

Alternately, instead of using the postposition “gwats’an’, the first verb “ihłįį’, and the conjunction “gàa’ one can employ the word “Gwich’in’, which literally means “a person of’ whatever place one is from. Thus one can say “New Jersey gwich’in ihłįį’ (I am a person of New Jersey) as follows.


Study the following list.

From the Lecture Video
Shoozhrì’ ______________ oozhii My name is __________________
Shitsii ______________ oozhii. My grandfather’s name is ___________
Shitsuu _________________ oozhii My grandmother’s name is __________
Ti’yaa __________ oozhii. My dad’s name is ____________
Ni’ee ____________ oozhii. My mom’s name is ________________
___________ gogwal’eÌ€e. I am studying ___________________
_____________ gwats’an ihÅ‚įį. I am from ___________________
_____________ gwihch’įį. I live in ____________________
ihłįį I am
oozhii is
hee (spoken mostly) confirmation expression – like the Canadian – eh? expression at end of sentence. Can also be used for ’here’ – as in ’Put it  here’
eet’ihtan I like (it, bread, fish, boats, etc – common noun)
hihłyaa I am going to be
geehihdal year
maÌ€hsi’ thank you
neenahaal’yaÌ€a see you later
Formal Introductions
ShoozhriÌ€’ My name
NoozhriÌ€’ Your name
VoozhriÌ€’ His or her name
ShitiÌ€’ voozhriÌ€’ ______________. My Father’s name is ___________
Shitsii voozhriÌ€’ ______________. My grandfather’s name is ______________
Shahan voozhriÌ€’ _____________. My Mother’s name is ______________
Shitsuu voozhriÌ€’ ______________. My grandmother’s name is__________________
Informal Reference
Jùu Who
Nàa With you
Shàa With me
Vàa With him/her


Conversations & Examples

How are you?

There is no single word meaning “hello’ in Gwich’in, instead when greeting a person one says “Neenjit doonch’yàa?’ (How are you?).    

Below is an example of an interaction between two friends:

Jane: Neenjit doonch’yàa?  (How are you?)

Mark: Sheenjit gwinzįi. Nan aii yù’? (I am good. And you?)

Jane: Shii chan.  (Me too.)

The following video includes example introductions from four different people.

A  conversation example, interview style:

A video on the ANL 141 conversational video showing formal introductions by students:


Assignment 1 – Install the Gwich’in Keyboard

Follow instructions under the section  using the Gwich’in Keyboard on the Alphabet and Sounds Resources page. This will allow you to use the special Gwich’in characters when you type!

Assignment 2 – Your Introduction

(100 points)

You will be creating your own introduction in Gwich’in.  The goal of this exercise is to  meet your fellow students and to practice your speaking and writing abilities.

Step 1 –  First draft is due mid-week (see syllabus for date). Write your Gwich’in script first draft and  send it to your instructor to go over.

Step 2 –  You will receive your draft back from your instructor with their suggestions. Address the corrections as needed on your script.

Step 3  –  Record yourself on video delivering your introduction in Gwich’in and upload it to YouTube.  Use props or get creative if you like to make it more fun and interesting. Just make sure that the camera is secured  so that it doesn’t shake during filming. Do a couple takes to make sure the audio sounds good and there isn’t too much distracting stuff in the background.

Step 4  –  Create a new post on this website with the category ‘Introductions’. In this written post:

  1. Include your introduction video where you introduce yourself in Gwich’in to your fellow students and instructor.
  2. Include your Gwich’in script text.
  3. In English, reflect on your experience with this lesson.  (Did you have any challenges with this lesson? Did you have any specific successes? etc.)

Need help? See:

Other Example Introductions

A demonstration of formal introductions by students in a real world setting.

Alestine Andre introduces herself in eastern Gwich’in.

A video where a person talks about all of the things they do and then introduces themselves at the end.  A nice animated student project from Old Crow.