It’s not a typo: Why we are using ‘Lingít’ instead of ‘Tlingit’

Several Lukaax.ádi clan dancers help Nathan Jackson Yéil Yádi (Raven Child) into his regalia during a stamp dedication for artist Rico Lanáat’ Worl’s new postage stamp “Raven Story,” on Friday, July 30, 2021 in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Lingít or Tlingit — no matter how you spell it — is the name of one of the Indigenous groups of people of Southeast Alaska and the name of their language. In the language itself, it’s spelled Lingít.

The letter “l” in Lingít, though, is pronounced by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and blowing air out the sides of your tongue. It’s also not vocalized, meaning you don’t engage your vocal chords; you just blow air like you would for a “t” or a “k” in English. That’s why you’ll see the name of the language and the people spelled “Tlingit” in English. The closest sounds in English are “tl” or “kl,” so you’ll hear it pronounced “TLING-it” or “KLING-it.”

Tlingit is the accepted English spelling of the language and we do write and present news in English. But KTOO supports the normalization and familiarization of the Lingít language, especially in the region that includes and surrounds Juneau known as Lingít Aani or “land of the Tlingit.”

We use Lingít words to convey respect for the people whose homelands we live and work on. Using Lingít and trying our best to pronounce Lingít words accurately is one of the ways we are trying to lift up the voices of people who have been underrepresented on our airwaves.

Gunalchéesh (thank you!) for your patience as we learn and put that knowledge into practice.

Jennifer Pemberton

Managing Editor, KTOO

I bring stories from the community into the KTOO newsroom so that all of our reporting matters. I want to hear my community’s struggles and its wins reflected in our coverage. Does our reporting reflect your experience in Juneau?

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