Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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A contact language called Broken Slavey or Slavey Jargon flourished among the Gwich’in in the nineteenth century. Slavey Jargon absorbed elements of at least five source languages: French, Gwich’in, South Slavey (Dene-Tha’), Chipewyan, and English. Analyzing historical sources and recorded ethnographic texts from fluent speakers of Gwich’in, I offer an explanation of how the lexicon and grammar of this kaleidoscopic language converged regionally in the small subarctic communities of Fort McPherson, La Pierre’s House, and Fort Yukon. I also conclude that there is no internal textual evidence that Slavey Jargon was used as a trading pidgin. The polyglot form of most Slavey Jargon texts represents a curious inseam of linguistic democracy, suggesting that a measure of social equality was negotiated between the speakers of its diverse component tongues.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chipewyan; Cree; French; Gwich’in; Loucheux; pidgin; Slavey Jargon; South Slavey
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