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Dogrib, the English translation of the indigenous name ( ), is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the First Nations Tłįchǫ people of the Canadian territory Northwest Territoriesmarker. According to Statistics Canada in 2006, there were approximately 2,640 people who spoke Dogrib.

The Dogrib region covers the northern shore of Great Slave Lakemarker, reaching almost up to Great Bear Lakemarker. Rae-Edzo, now known by its Dogrib name, Behchokǫ, is the largest community in the Dogrib Region.



The consonants of Dogrib in the standard orthography are listed below (with IPA notation in brackets):

  Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
central lateral plain labialized
Nasal plain   m     n              
prenasalized   mb     nd              
Plosive voiced   b     d           g     gw    
voiceless     t           k     kw      
ejective     t’           k’     kw’    
Affricate voiced     dz     dl     j          
voiceless     ts     tl     ch          
ejective     ts’     tl’     ch’          
Fricative voiced     z       zh       gh      
voiceless     s     ł     sh       x       h  
Approximant voiced     r     l       y       w    
voiceless               wh    


* short
* long
* nasal vowels are marked by an ogonek (called wighǫą - 'its little nose' in Dogrib) e.g., ą
* low tone is marked with a grave accent (called wets'aà - 'its hat' in Dogrib), e.g., à
* high tone is never marked


Typologically, Dogrib is an agglutinating, polysynthetic head-marking language, but many of its affixes combine into contractions more like fusional languages. The canonical word order of Dogrib is SOV. Dogrib words are modified primarily by prefix, which is unusual for an SOV language (suffixes are expected).

In addition to verbs and nouns, there are pronouns, clitics of various functions, demonstratives, numerals, postpositions, adverbs, and conjunction in Dogrib. The class of adjectives is very small, probably around two dozen words: most descriptive words are verbs rather than adjectives.


  1. Statistics Canada: 2006 Census

Further reading

  • Coleman, Phyllis Young. Dogrib Phonology. Ann Arbor, Michigan, [etc.]: University Microfilms International, 1979.
  • Saxon, Leslie and Mary Siemens. Tłįchǫ Yatiì Enįhtł'è = Dogrib Dictionary. Rae-Edzo, N.W.T.: Dogrib Divisional Board of Education, 1996.
  • Saxon, Leslie and Mary Siemens. Tłįchǫ Yatiì Multimedia Dictionary [63358].

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