Lesson 2 – Kinship

Overview & Goals

In this lesson, we will focus on having conversation with and about family.

After this lesson, you should begin to be more familiar with kinship terms, discussing other people and talking about  feelings.

Lesson Videos


Noun Possession

The way in which to possess a noun in Gwich’in is to add a prefix to a stem. The stem provides the meaning of a noun, and does not usually change. For example, the stem for “teeth’ in Gwich’in is -ghò’. The prefix is the only part of the word that will change, as in the following:

Prefix Plus Stem “teeth’ Gwich’in Meaning
1s sha- + -ghò’ shaghò’ my teeth
2s na- + -ghò’ naghò’ your teeth
3s va- + -ghò’ vaghò’ his or her teeth
1p dii- + -ghò’ diighò’ our teeth
2p nakhwa- + -ghò’ nakhwaghò’ you guys’ teeth
3p goo- + -ghò’ googhò’ their teeth

In the above example, notice that the first vowel in the stem is an “o’. If the first vowel in a stem is either an “a’, “o’ or “w’, then the prefix will use the vowel “a’ in 1s, 2s, 3s, and 2p.

If the first vowel in the stem is any other vowel, including “y’, then the “a’ will change to the letter “i’ in the prefix, as in the following example:

Prefix Plus Stem “grandfather’ Gwich’in Meaning
1s shi- + -tsii shitsii my grandfather
2s ni- + -tsii nitsii your grandfather
3s vi- + -tsii vitsii his or her grandfather
1p dii- + -tsii diitsii our grandfather
2p nakhwi- + -tsii nakhwitsii you guys’ grandfather
3p goo- + -tsii gootsii their grandfather

There are other stems that begin with a vowel, such as -eejii, which means “older sister’. When the stem begins with a vowel, then the “a’ or “i’ in the prefixes will drop. However, 1p will add the letter “n’ and 3p will add the letter “v’, as in the following example:

Prefix Plus Stem “older sister’ Gwich’in Meaning
1s sh- + -eejii sheejii my older sister
2s n- + -eejii neejii your older sister
3s v- + -eejii veejii his or her older sister
1p diin- + -eejii diineejii our older sister
2p nakhw- + -eejii nakhweejii you guys’ older sister
3p goov- + -eejii gooveejii their older sister

There are certain nouns such as kinship terms and animal body parts that need to be possessed. One cannot just say “-t쒝 (stem for father) or “-gwàt’ (stem for knee). With kinship terms, if you do not want to specify whose father, but instead want to say “someone’s father’, then you would use a prefix that would indicate this. In addition, animal body parts do not take the prefixes above. One indicates animal body parts as “something’s’knee, for example. Below are the examples, with an example of “-antsįh’ (nose):

Prefix Plus Stem “father’ Gwich’in Meaning
ch’i- + -tì’ ch’itì’ someone’s father


Prefix Plus Stem “knee’ Gwich’in Meaning
ch’a- + -gwàt ch’agwàt something’s knee


Prefix Plus Stem “nose’ Gwich’in Meaning
ch’- + -antsįh ch’antsįh something’s nose

Prefixes and Stems
The stem of  “shoozhrì’’ indicates who is being introduced. For instance, “Voozhrì’  (Jane) oozhii.’ Her name is (Jane).  This general pattern of prefixes can be applied to other nouns in order to indicate the person:

Gwich’in English
Prefix Stem
1st singular sh + oozhrì’ my name
2nd  singular n + oozhrì’ your name
3rd singular v + oozhrì’ his/her name
1st plural diin + oozhrì’ our names
2nd plural nakhw + oozhrì’ you guys’ names
3rd plural goov + oozhrì’ their names

Here is another example, notice the prefix + stem relationship:

Father Stem -tì’
shitì’ my father
nitì’ your father
vitì’ his/her father
diitì’ our father
nakhwitì’ you guys’ father
gootì’ their father




Shizhehk’aa your family
Shitsii my grandfather
Shitsuh my grandmother
Ti’yaa my dad
Shitsi’ my father
Ne’ee my mom
Shahan my mother
Shachaa my younger brother
ShiJuu my younger sister
Tr’iinin tsal baby or small child
Shalak my relatives, my cousins
Shijyaa my friend
Shitli’ my best friend
Shiyeeghannąįį my parents
Shidinji’ son – as called by father
Shichi’ daughter – as called by father
Shikyuu grandchildren – as called by father
Shizhuu son – as called by mother
Shiyeetsi’ daughter – as called by mother
Shitsyee grandchildren – as called by mother
Shee’ii my uncle on my mother’s side
Shitii my uncle on my father’s side
Shik’aii my aunt
Shoondee my older brother
Shijii my older sister
Shaaghwaii my sister in law
Sha’ my brother in law
Sheechi’kai’ my son in law (from father’s perspective)
Sheedeenyaa my son in law (from mother’s perspective)
Shigii my child (from mother’s perspective for her daughter in law)
Shitsuh my spouses’ grandmother  


Shitsii my spouses’ grandfather


Shoo- happy

gwiilul- lethargic

gwiltsik- sick

Tools - Vaat'eet'aara'in

Traditional tools are still in use today and are passed down through the generations in the family. This week, we will explore a few tools to add to your vocabulary.

  • Nehtthah
  • Ch’eek’yaa
  • Deeddhoo
  • Ch’ankhwah
  • Tseedhah Vaaneerahch’aa


1. Assignment – Family Post

(50  points) Create a new post on this website with the category ‘Family’. In this written post:

  1. In English, reflect on the importance of understanding your audience in Gwich’in. What are some factors that would influence how you might introduce yourself or someone in a specific situation?  (1 paragraph)
  2. In English, reflect on your experience with this lesson.  (Did you have any challenges with this lesson? Did you have any specific successes? etc.)
  3. Respond to at least one other student’s post by commenting on their Introduction post from last week.

Need help? See: How to make a blog post.

2.  Quiz

(50  points) Log into Blackboard and go to this course shell. Click on  the Quizzes  link on the left and then choose Quiz 1  to take the quiz. This quiz covers both Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 materials.

Other Resources