W. de Reuse: Han Athabaskan lexicon, grammar, texts

Han is spoken in the village of Eagle, Alaska located on the shores of the Yukon River near the Alaska-Canadian border. There are perhaps 6 speakers of Han on the American side and 2 speakers on the Canadian side. In 1980, Canadian linguist, John Ritter, documented 25% of its lexicon in the form of a noun dictionary.

Willem de Reuse started his Han research in 2006, utilizing Jeff Leer's Comparative Athabaskan Lexicon work, Ritter's noun dictionary and various Gwich'in materials published through the Alaska Native Language Center. By 2007, de Ruese had made 2 field trips to Alaska to work with Han. From those first Alaska trips he filled 17 notebooks of data.

In June 2008, de Reuse commenced on this grant. Since that time he has documented Han from various sources and has analyzed the language in aspects of lexicon, sentence compilation, text materials, Han historical phonology and dialect variation.

Willem de Reuse finished his last Han field trip on September 6, 2011, unless extra funds for another can be found in the budget.

This last trip proceeded quite successfully, in that all of the best remaining speakers were together in Eagle and assiduously working 5 hours a day with him.

He managed to finish checking the paradigms for the Han verbs that had been documented, to complete the corpus for an adequate grammar, and lexicon of about 5000 lexemes. The texts, i.e., transcriptions of all known Han textual tapes, ca. 3 hours, have been done. Certain of these, i.e., some of those by Willie Juneby, remain a challenge to edit, even with the earnest help of the remaining speakers.

This extra final year will provide de Reuse the time to finish the write-up, presumably with some telephoning and/or an extra fieldtrip. Meanwhile, the Archive here has copies of all his data, and we have now a much more extensive and accurate documentation of Han.

Working drafts of de Reuse's work can be found at:


Issac Juneby
The late Issac Juneby, one of the last speakers of the Han language. Eagle, Alaska 2011.