Tlingit Verb Database

To visit the Tlingit Verb Database, please click on the following link:

Helen Sarabia, Fluent Speaker and Elder

If our children learn our language, they will know who they are.

John Martin, Sr., Fluent Speaker and Elder

No matter how you teach the Tlingit language, it is a thing of beauty.

Dr. Walter Soboleff, Fluent Speaker and Elder

Learning our language is a vital link to our culture; it gives the person stability

Introducing a Database of Tlingit Verb Forms
Keri Edwards, a linguist originally from Haines, Alaska, took over a project that Richard and Nora Dauenhauer had started in the 1990s. The Dauenhauer’s wanted a database of Tlingit verbs, inspired by foreign language books like 501 Spanish Verbs or 501 German Verbs.  Those books contain 501 verbs, [and in the case of the Spanish version] “fully conjugated in all the tenses in an easy-to-learn format alphabetically arranged.”image 501 spanish verbs book

The Spanish book covers seven simple tenses like “present indicative”: “I eat”, or “I do eat,” or “I am eating.It also covers seven compound tenses like “conditional perfect”: “I would have eaten.”

The Tlingit database covers verb tense/aspects including “imperfective”, “perfective”, “imperative”, “prohibitive”, “progressive imperfective”, and “future”. Edwards said that a person knowledgeable in these six forms can predict the other verb forms, but its always best to consult with a fluent Tlingit speaker.

Example: how to look up a verb form
A person with just a little knowledge of the Tlingit language can use the data base to find a certain verb form. Say a person wants to know how to say, “He built it.” Go on the database to the English index. Click on the letter “B” at the top of the page, and scroll down the page to “build”, and click on “build”. Scroll down the page to the “Perfective”, (did build), and there is the verb form “s/he built it” and the Tlingit verb form “awliyéx“. Note that this is just the verb form — Edwards says that students still need to see the verb used in a sentence, to see, for example, where do you place the noun in the sentence, where do you place the verb, etc. A fluent speaker can help answer these and other questions the student would have.

The Tlingit Verb database can be used by beginners. It is also a valuable tool for intermediate Tlingit students.

Looking to the future, Edwards hopes that there will be an audio file for every verb and verb form, so a user can see and hear the form. She also says the database needs an example of verb form used in a sentence.