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Tahltan Language


Task one: Cooking

Eve came home to an empty deep-freeze in anticipation to prepare for the upcoming feast (which would indicate her total confidence in her husband hunting skills) Adam enters with his bloody canvas packsack brimming with confidence, but faking disappointment as he says…

a.) Adam:Du·we! - (Nothing!)

b.) Eve:KU·JI K’AT! - (ALREADY!)

c.) Adam:Ts’es·ts’īt (I lie.)

They both laugh about her gullibility.

d.) Eve:Nā·shī na’! (Kiss my butt! She says with laughter.) This expression accompanies a gestures involving the bent index and middle finger, but it can be offensive in differing contexts, or toward an elder or brothers.

e.) Eve:Da·da s̱in’u·ni (Where you shot it?)

f.) Adam:Ts̱ē·ba’e (Microwave.) Referring to Microwave road.

g.) Adam:Ye·da dīn·tse·tli (What you wan’ eat?)

h.) Eve:E·ts̱e·dle, ye·da yen·ẕe·ni! (Bumguts, what you think!)

i.) Adam:Ē es-uti da·ka’e·dēs·leł (Okay, mah packsack, I’ll unload.)

j.) Eve:E·ts̱e·dle es-ghan·lē, en-da·ga dēs·t’es̱ - (The bumguts, pass it, I’ll cook for you.)

k.) Adam:K’ukh eł in·t’ēs̱ - (Cook [mix] rice with it.)

l.) Eve:Ed·la ka·dīn·ya’ -
(Go get mom.)

Task Two: Invitation

In Tałtan culture celebrating the kill with family members first has always been a big part of the culture and strengthens bonds between each other. Kinship bonds are based on matrilineal respect.

Adam goes to his mother-in-law and says:

a.) Adam:Es-chan, kedā yi’unh (Mother-in-law [wife’s mother] I shot moose.)

b.) Ets̱en’mā:Me’esdih -  (I know.)   

c.) Adam:Dūda men·di·hi -
 (Haw you know?)

d.) Ets̱en’ma:Es-ka·zū·ne ho·de. - (Your otter Spirit say it.) In Tałtan culture it is believed that each one of us harbor the otter spirit and it harbors the power of intuition.

e.) Adam:En-tu’e e·ts̱e·dle e·ts̱en’ ye·tani·t’e ani u·tse·dzi (Come over. Your daughter, cook bum-guts and fry meat, let’s go eat.)

f.) Ets̱en’ma:Ē. - (Okay.) 

Task Three: Interaction

After a successful hunt it is customary to share the delicacies of Bumguts (intestines) along with other parts of the innards such as kidneys, diaphragm, heart and other parts of the digestive system.

Ets̱en’mā and Adam arrive to a noisy house full of 4 children shouting in joyous praise for the upcoming feast and teens and adults alike engaging in gossip. With the smell of fried bumguts in the air the family has arrived.

a.) Ets̱en’mā:So·ga des·jit (Good smell.)

The children stop playing at the attention of their Grandmother.

b.) Mikaela:Tsu tsu! Tsu tsu! Tsu tsu! (Gramma! Gramma! Gramma!)

c.) Ets’en’mā:Es-chā e·ku·ne ā·hah - (My Grandchildren ā·hah.) In Tałtan culture ‘ā·hah’ signifies ‘adoration and love’.

d.) Mikaela:Es-tā Adam ke·dā yes̱’unh (My uncle Adam, moose he shot.)

e.) Ets̱en’mā:En-mā e·dī·da (Your mom, where is she?)

f.) Mikaela:Bingo ho·ts'i' desh·ya (Bingo she went to.)

g.) Ets̱en’mā:Ku·ji k’at. - (Already.)

Task Four: Eating

A huge part of Tałtan culture consist of feeding others to strengthens ties as opposed to hording for ones gain.

a.) Eve:K’ā·si u·tse·dzi! (Everybody let’s eat!)

Ets̱en’mā sits at the table first then the others join.

b.) Mikaela:Es-tsū ye·da en-līn - (My gramma, what you want?)

c.) Ets̱en’mā:E·ts̱e·dle, ed·ze’ k’ūk* e·nes’li· ne - (Bumguts, heart, rice I want.)

d.) Mikaela:Ē - (Okay.)

e.) Mikaela:Tsu tsu, dī·ghi en-da·nā - (Gramma, tea, you want?)

f.) Ets̱en’mā:Ē - (Yes.)

Child serves Ets̄en’mā.

g.) Ets̱en’mā:Mmm e·ts̱e·dle łe·di, mē·duh(Mmm bumguts, taste good, thank you.)

Ets̱en’mā, while she’s sitting, looks down at her plate full of food on the table, sarcastically she asks…

h.) Ets̱en’mā:Ts’a’ ze·dle(Just a plate?)

i.) Eve:En·tsū daga me’u·ghē·di bēs ka·dīn·ya’ (Your gramma for, fork and knife, you go get.)

In reference to the meal Eve asks…

j.) Eve:Du·da ah·t’e (How is it?)

k.) Ets̱en’mā:So·ga es’tsēt en-ēs·dān (Good eat, I’m full.)

Learn these phrases and sentences and then practice the individual parts with a partner. Make arrangements with a fellow student and practice the conversation by switching roles. 

Tałtan Language Program
Tahltan Central Government
PO Box 69
Tatl’ah (Dease), BC VOC 1L0
Phone: (250) 771-32274

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