Common Expressions - Nak'albun Dialect

give me

The word de' means "give me, hand me". It is more polite than it sounds to the English ear; there is no need to add "please".


The closest equivalent of good-bye in Dakelh is "see you again". This takes two forms, since there is a distinction between "you (one person)" and "you (two or more)". To say good-bye to one person, you say: nanyoost'en' la. To say good-bye to more than one person, you say: nanohoost'en' la.



here you are

When you hand something to someone, you say nah "here you are".



okay, alright



There is no word equivalent to "please". The word 'uhwhe' is the closest equivalent, but it is much less often used than the English word "please". It expresses a deeper longing.

sit down

If you are speaking to one person, you say: sinda. If you are speaking to two people, you say: sahke. If you are speaking to more than two people, you say: delhts'i.

The reason that there are three entirely different forms is that in Dakelh there is not really a single verb "to sit". Instead, there are three different verbs: "for one person to sit", "for two people to sit", and "for three or more people to sit".

thank you

Saying "thank you" in Dakelh is more complex than in English. The most common way to say "thank you" these days is musi a loan from French merci. This can be used by any number of people to any number of people. It tends to be used in relatively informal circumstances and when a relatively low degree of grattitude is expressed. musicho "big thank you" is sometimes used with the meaning of "thank you very much". However, many elders consider this to be poor Dakelh.

In more formal circumstances or when a greater degree of grattitude is expressed, the more traditional way of saying "thank you" is used. The following words are used to give thanks for what someone has given you or what someone has done for you:

snachailyaI thank you (one person)
snachalhyaI thank you (two or more people)
nenachailyaWe (two or more) thank you (one person)
nenachalhyaWe (two or more) thank you (two or more people)

snachailya literally means "you have done me a favour".

The following words are used to give thanks for what someone has said. They could also be translated as "I appreciate what you said", etc.

snachadindlihI thank you (one person)
snachadahdlihI thank you (two or more people)
nenachadindlihWe (two or more) thank you (one person)
nenachadahdlihWe (two or more) thank you (two or more people)

These are the appropriate words to use when saying "No, thank you". Since you are refusing what is being offered to you, you are not giving thanks for receiving something. Rather, you are giving thanks for the offer.


a. To pronounce this correctly, remember that it does not begin with a glottal stop. If you pronounce a glottal stop at the beginning, as English speakers automatically do, you will be saying "fog" or "quickly".


Yinka Déné Language Institute © 2006