Overview & Goals
This lesson will focus on understanding your environment and the weather, an important natural component of living close to the land. It is also a good subject that you can have conversation with Gwich’in speakers about.
After this lesson, you should begin to be familiar with some of the terms for plants and geography in Gwich’in as well as a cursory understanding of Gwich’in meteorological terminology.
Video 2 – Gwich’in Children’s book “Let it snow’… Affiliated weather terms used in a narrative that is narrated.
Video 3 – Jidii AÅ‚tsan, basic plants and counting narrative. 9 mins 20 sec.
How is the weather? (literally, “How is it outside?’)
The word “chiitaÌ¨iÌ¨iÌ¨’ literally means “outside‘. When speaking about the weather begin with the “chiitaÌ¨iÌ¨iÌ¨’ then add the word for the type of weather being described, saying “Outside it is ____________’.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun or a pronoun. For instance in the sentence “I have big eyes.‘, the adjective “big‘ describes the noun “eyes‘. In English an adjective usually comes before the word it modifies; in Gwich’in the placement of the adjective in a sentence is opposite with the adjective generally following the word it describes.
An adjective in Gwich’in can take one or more of the following forms:
- Simple Adjectives (SF): functions like adjectives in English, needing a noun and a verb to complete a sentence.
- Areal Adjectives (AA): an adjective beginning with the areal prefix used to describe an areal noun/pronoun. Areal adjectives also need a noun and a verb to complete a sentence.
- Adjectival Verbs (AV): an adjective that also function as the verb in the sentence. Only a noun and the adjectival verb are needed to complete a sentence.
For example, the adjective meaning “black’ in Gwich’in appears in all three forms.
|Simple Adjective||Areal Adjective||Adjectival Verb|
The choice of which form of an adjective to use will depend on a variety of factors, including what is being described and the sentence structure. For example:
|Domestic cat||its hair||black||has|
|The cat has black hair|
|In English time is spoken of in a linear manner, like a timeline, one day progressing to the next, from month to month and from year to year always progressing forward. In Gwich’in time is spoken of more like a circle, the seasons, much like a day, goes through a cycle and then begins again. Instead of breaking the year up into specific days of the week and months of the year, like in English, Gwich’in refers to the times of the year by what activities occur or important events. EXAMPLE. In order communicate with English speakers, over time Gwich’in names for times of the year have been applied to the English system of 12 months they roughly refer to. EXAMPLE|
Names for days of the week have also been incorporated Gwich’in. Below are some Gwich’in time terms.
|k’ehdÃ i’||juÌ€k drin||nihkaa|
These words can be combined to refer to the time of a specific day like in English. For example, “k’ehdÃ i’ vahn’ means “yesterday morning‘ and “khaa’ refers to “tomorrow night‘. “JuÌ€k’, generally meaning “this’, can be placed before these time words to refer to “this morning‘ (“juÌ€k vahn’) or “this evening/tonight‘ (“juÌ€k khaa’).
- ChiitaÌ¨iÌ¨iÌ¨ — outside
- DoÌ‚onch’yaa — How is it
- Chiitaii doÌ‚onch’yaa? — How is the weather?
- Giashreiin’aii — It is sunny
- Gwit’eh goo’aii — It is cloudy
- Ahtsin — It is rainy
- Aht’rÄ…Ä¯Ä¯ — It is windy
- GwiÌ‚indhaa — It is warm in the area
- GwiÌ‚ink’oo — It is cold in the area
- ShrÃ´onch’yaa – It is nice
- Ahshii – It is snowing
How are you? (when you are outside)
- Neenjit doÌ‚onch’yaa? – how are you?
- Ihdluu — I am cold
- Nihthaa – I am hot
- Cheeshandak – I am tired
- ShatthaÌ€i’ niziÌ¨iÌ¨ – I am rested
- vaÌ€hn — morning
- Drin tÅ‚’an – noon
- khaa — night
- k’ehdÃ i’ — yesterday
- juÌ€k drin — today
- nihkaa — tomorrow
- GwitÅ‚’ee jiÌ€ – later
- Khaii – winter
- Shin – summer
- Shreenyaa – spring
- Khaiits’a’ – fall
- K’eegwaadhat k’iighai’ – if god is willing
Environment and Animal Terms
- tÅ‚’oo — grass
- zhee — sky
- ts’iivii — spruce tree
- k’aii — willow
- t’aa — cottonwood
- k’ih — Birch bark
- ah — branch
- ch’at’an — leaf
- taÌ¨iÌ¨iÌ¨ — trail
- taih — hill
- han — river
- k’oÌ¨oÌ¨ — slough
- GwaÌ‚ak’a’ -fire
- Shree – sun
- ToÌ¨oÌ¨ ozhrii – moon
- ChuÌ¨uÌ¨ – water
- Dinjii – man
- Tr’iÌ€njaÌ€a – woman –
- ÅaÌ¨iÌ¨iÌ¨ – dog
- Ninjii zhuu – Cat
- Shoh zhraii – Black Bear
- Shih tthoo – Brown Bear
- Geh – Rabbit
- Ts’it – Porcupine
- Tsee – Beaver
- Dlak – Squirrel
- Bird – Chiitsal
Tools - Vaat'eet'aara'in
Assignment – Weather
Create a new post on this website with the category ‘Weather’. In this written post:
- In Gwich’in, describe the current or typical weather in your home town. (1 paragraph)
- 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: How to make a blog post.
Alaska Native Language Archive
The Alaska Native Language Archive has hundreds of thousands of recordings and documents available to aid you in your studies. There are stories that have been transcribed that you can study to learn new words and phrases in Gwich’in, as well as learning Gwich’in language content at the same time. Search the ANLA for all Gwich’in language resources.
A Newly Documented Whole-Sky Circumpolar Constellation in Alaskan Gwich’in by Chris Cannon (view PDF)
Video of what it’s like to land in Arctic Village, Alaska in summertime