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Sekani language

Native toCanada
RegionBritish Columbia
Ethnicity1,410 Sekani people (2014, FPCC)[1]
Native speakers
200, 14% of ethnic population (2016 census)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3sek
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The Sekani language is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the Sekani people of north-central British Columbia, Canada.



Sekani has 33 consonants:

  Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Velar Glottal
central lateral plain labial
Stop unaspirated p t     k  
aspirated (pʰ)     kʷʰ  
ejective       kʼʷ ʔ
Affricate unaspirated   ts      
aspirated   tsʰ tɬʰ tʃʰ      
ejective   tsʼ tɬʼ tʃʼ      
Nasal   m n          
voiceless   s ɬ ç x h
voiced   z l j ɣ w  


  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e ə o
Low   a  


Sekani has two tones: low and high. High tone is the more common tone. Syllables phonologically marked for tone are low.


Nasalization of vowels is phonemic and so changes the meaning.

Sample words

[4] In the practical writing system used here for the Kwadacha Tsek'ene dialect, u represents the mid-central vowel, and oo represents the high back rounded vowel. An apostrophe represents a glottal stop, and an ogonek under a vowel represents nasalization.

  • dune man; person
  • tlįį dog
  • wudzįįh caribou
  • yus snow
  • chǫ rain
  • k’wus cloud
  • kwùn fire
  • ’įįbèh summer
  • too water
  • mun lake
  • nun land
  • tselh axe
  • ʼukèʼ foot
  • ’àtse my grandfather
  • ’àtsǫǫ my grandmother
  • lhìghè’ one
  • lhèkwudut’e two
  • tadut’e three
  • dįįdut’e four
  • ǫ yes
  • Tlįį duchę̀’ ’ehdasde January
  • Dahyusè’ nùkehde wìlę February
  • Nùtsʼiide March
  • ʼUtʼǫ̀ʼ kùnuyehde May
  • Jìje dinììdulh July
  • Yhììh nunutsunde wìlę August
  • Yhììh ukudeh’àsde September
  • ’Udììtl’ǫh ’uwit’į̀į̀h October
  • Yus ’ut’į̀į̀h November
  • Khuye ’uwììjàh December


  1. ^ Sekani language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Language Highlight Tables, 2016 Census - Aboriginal mother tongue, Aboriginal language spoken most often at home and Other Aboriginal language(s) spoken regularly at home for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census – 100% Data". Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sekani". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ FirstVoices: Kwadacha Tsek'ene Community Portal



  • Hargus, Sharon (2009) Effects on consonant duration in Fort Ware Tsek'ene. Presented at Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference, Eugene, OR. PDF of slides, PDF of references.
  • Hargus, Sharon (2009) "Causatives and transitionals in Kwadacha Tsek'ene." (slides) Presented at the Athabaskan Languages Conference, Berkeley, CA. [Supported by NSF DEL-0651853 and Kwadacha Education Society]
  • Hargus, Sharon (2009) "Phonetic vs. phonological rounding in Athabaskan languages." PDF of slides, PDF of references. Presented at LabPhon 12, Albuquerque, NM. (reposted July 16, 2010). The article will appear in Journal of Laboratory Phonology 3:163-193.

External links