J. Leer: Comparative Athabaskan Lexicon (CAL), Alutiiq lexicon

Comparative Athabaskan Lexicon

For the past 16 years Jeff Leer has been working on a comparative dictionary of Tlingit-Eyak-Athabaskan. In its first phase it involved mainly Eyak-Tlingit comparisons. The bulk of the Tlingit and Eyak comparanda has been entered, but is still incomplete. Meanwhile, Leer began to compile a separate Comparative Athabascan Lexicon (CAL) with cognates proposed or suggested for the Athabaskan forms and reconstructions. CAL is open-ended, since the majority of Athabaskan languages are still spoken, and most of those are very incompletely documented. Leer's comparative lexicon is thus meant to be both a guide and information center for work henceforth in this whole field.

Research assistant, Andrew Edelen from the Southern Methodist University has been working at entering the data. Working closely with Tlingit linguist, James Crippen, Leer overcame the major shortcoming of getting a usable font. The data now can be entered as an online database to serve its wider purpose.

Draft of Leer's CAL work can be found at:



Radloff Manuscripts and Tlingit lexicon

Jeff Leer, who learned Tlingit as a child has amassed all the materials that document Tlingit. One exception is the record that Russian-German linguist Leopold Radloff made of Tlingit elder, Tikhontin. Probably born in the 18th century, Tikhontin spent 1862 in St. Petersburg working extensively with Radloff. While working at the Russian Academy of Science in St. Petersburg during the 1980s, Michael Krauss made copies of all that remains of that work. Materials amount to eight of the nine original field notebooks, some 800 pages and some 20,000 fileslips.The work is written in the old German cursive "Schrift."

Through careful researching and fortuitous travels, we have located a young German, Marcel Korge, that is transcribing the Schrift into modern German. Leer, familiar with German, is now able to use this data towards the creation of the definitive dictionary and grammar of the Tlingit language.

Draft of Korge's work can be found at:



Alutiiq lexicon

Jeff Leer has also devoted a large part of his career on the Yup'ik language of Sugpiaq. This language ranges from the north Pacific Coast at Copper River to the mid-Alaska Peninsula, including the Kodiak Archipelago. The population is about 3,000, but at best 200 speakers, with the youngest in their 70s. Leer has worked with all dialects of this language since 1972 and has by now compiled a lexicon of over 10,000. It includes a careful philological account and re-elicitation of the many old Russian sources, going back to the 1780s, some quite extensive, e.g. Rezanov, Lisianskii, and over 500 Russian loans and place names.

With the assistance of research assistant, Joseph Kwaraceius, all the data slips (with examples) have been entered and editing is completed; final manuscript is in process of editing and formatting. Postbases and appendices are in process as well. With the help of linguist James Crippen, conversion of the material into a form for online use is to be completed and ready for fall 2013 publication.

Draft of the Sugpiaq dictionary can be found at:


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