Yellowknives Dene Placenames and Tetsot'ine (Chipewyan) Dictionary
Principal Investigator: Jaker, Alessandro M (10)
Licence Number: 16405
Organization: University of Toronto
Licenced Year(s): 2018
Issued: Sep 18, 2018
Project Team: Alessandro Jaker (Principal Investigator, University of Toronto)

Objective(s): To produce a list of placenames, with their geographical coordinates and an English translation of the placenames, and to produce a Tetso?´t'ine´ (Chipewyan) dictionary.

Project Description: The first objective is to produce a list of placenames, with their geographical coordinates and an English translation of the placenames, to leave with the Land & Environment Office, as well as a bilingual, interlinear transcript of any stories about places or placenames that the Principal Investigator (PI) collect from elders. The second objective is to produce a Tetso?´t'ine´ (Chipewyan) dictionary, both in paper and electronic format, the latter with clickable sound files, so that users and learners can click on the words and hear the words pronounced.

All work described below will take place at the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Land & Environment Office, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. As described above, the work has two parts: placenames work, and work on the dictionary.

The work on placenames has several stages. First the PI will interview elders about placenames, with the help of an interpreter (that is, the interviews will be conducted in the Tetso?´t'ine´ (Chipewyan) language). Interviews will be recorded using recorder and microphones. Having recorded the interviews, names of individual places will be transcribed and entered into an Excel spreadsheet. On the other hand, longer narratives about particular places will be transcribed using a software program called ELAN, with which the PI will produce a bilingual, interlinear transcript: Tetso?´t'ine´ on one line, and the English translation on the line below it.

Work on the dictionary will first involve one-on-one elicitation sessions with the primary informant. They will be recorded in the same way as described above. However, rather than transcribe these using ELAN, the individual words from these elicitation sessions will be entered into a database program called FLEX, designed for linguistic work. Furthermore, the individual sound files, for each particular word, will be cut up using Audacity and attached in FLEX, so as to make possible an electronic version of the dictionary with clickable sound files.

This project has two parts: work on placenames and stories about places in Yellowknives Dene traditional territory, as well as a Tetsot'ine (Chipewyan) dictionary. For both parts of this project, the community will play a key role in shaping the research agenda and research process.

For the placenames portion, Yellowknives Dene First Nation Land & Environment Office staff will formulate the questions to ask elders, and the places to ask elders about. The PI will interview elders, with the assistance of one interpreter and at least one bilingual speaker to help transcribe elders' stories using a computer program called ELAN. This will be an opportunity for that person to increase their Dene literacy skills as well as their technology skills.

The PI will consult with other speakers to check individual words as needed. Ultimately this dictionary will be used to improve Dene literacy training in the local community.

Thus, both parts of this project were initiated by members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, in response to local community needs, and will involve the participation of community members.

All results of the placenames research will be left with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Land & Environment Office, and will remain confidential. That is, the results of this research will be made public only at the discretion of Land & Environment Office staff.

The dictionary will be published through the Alaska Native Language Center (ANLC Publications) in Fairbanks, Alaska, and, pending funding, a limited number of free copies will be provided to community members, and the rest will be sold at a subsidized (discounted) price.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 19, 2018 to December 31, 2018.