Now that our department’s symposium and poster session are over, I have a bit more time to post so I’ll be doing some catching up.

This post isn’t really going to be about linguistics, but I’ve noticed a trend with my blog visitors and want to discuss it a bit. You see, about 1 in 10 hits to my blog for the past three months have been people looking for the word tikaani ‘wolf’. Apparently it’s a very popular dog name and people want to know how to pronounce it. Also, most people think it’s an Eskimo word, but it isn’t. Sorry to burst your bubble.

One more time for emphasis: tikaani is not an Eskimo word. It’s from Ahtna, one of the Native American languages of Alaska. If it were (Central Alaskan) Yup’ik Eskimo, for example, it would be kegluneq. If it were Iñupiaq Eskimo, it would be amaġuq.

Putting tikaani aside, a lot of hits to this blog come from people searching for dog names. What is it that makes people want Alaskan and/or Eskimo names for their dogs? (Judging from this page at the Alaska Native Language Center, they get asked about dog names a lot, too.) Sure, they might be huskies, but so what? I don’t see people naming their German Shepherds Helmut or Fritz just because the breed is German.


10 thoughts on “Tikaani

  1. James Crippen April 5, 2008 / 1:38 pm

    I got asked once for dog names in Tlingit. My interlocutor was disappointed: keitl is “dog”, and ghooch is wolf. Both are monosyllabic, include obscure consonants, and sound “boring”. A Tlingit speaker would be incredulous if you named your dog ghooch, they’d say “but it isn’t a wolf, it’s a dog, so why would you call it a wolf?”. Calling your dog keitl would be equally odd, they’d say “doesn’t it have a name?”.

    Tlingit actually has a sort of genre for dog names which are different from human names. Often they are deprecatory, but sometimes not. Interestingly, people can gain teknonyms from their pets, so a guy with a dog named Chánk’ “Little Stink” (chán-k’ |stink-DIM|) might get named Chánk’ Éesh “Little Stink’s Father”. The reverse is possible too, where a person with a teknonym gives the source name to the pet, thus Dáanaa Tlaa “Dollar Mother” might name her dog Dáanaa.

  2. Claire April 9, 2008 / 6:20 pm

    iila is dog in Bardi, and dingo is goorridi. But my real favourite is the Yan-nhaŋu ‘alternative’ word for dog, which is bodji /pu:ɟi/, from English ‘pussy (cat)’. The regular word is waṯu, but bodji is used quite a bit too.

  3. amaguq (wolf) January 13, 2009 / 8:01 pm

    how do you say the word amaguq for wolf

  4. TwoYaks August 12, 2009 / 2:56 pm

    I couldn’t help but notice that ANCL suggested negiliq for a name. Someone must have let Walkie at the department pick that one, because it makes me think of what it’d be like naming a horse ‘Glue.’ :p

  5. Maeg August 13, 2009 / 12:38 pm

    personally I wanted the pronunciation for Tikaani because my chihuahua looks like a wolf in the face with light grey and white hair with a dark gray stripe down its face and around it’s eyes and blue eyes. It reminded me of a husky and wolf so I wanted an alaskan name that meant wolf and I loved the pronunciation of the name after I found it.

  6. suzi December 30, 2009 / 2:13 pm

    hello, i am try to name my families new alaskan malamute husky puppy, who has one white foot, like a sock, i wanted to give a alaskan name that means white sock or something alike, would anyone able to help me translate and pronounce it in Tlingit?

  7. Barbara March 19, 2011 / 9:02 pm

    I see all the postings about alaskan languages and the words in them to fit as names for pets. I am having a hard time understanding why this is such a question for some posters. Back Dick and Jane who had a dog named Spot people have wanted names for their pets that would suit and become terms of affection for them. I adopted an Alaskan Kleee Kai and after much research and contemplation I named her Huskavahar Tokkee. My research indicated it meant beautiful three and she was a rescue that I adopted at her age of three. The breed was developed in Alaska about 25 or so years ago. They are a beautiul breed that look like miniature huskies. It gave people the opportunity to have a huskie that was able to come inside with them. I waited 5 years to be able to find one. Believe me she is adored and loved. Naming a pet anything for most people is a labor of love to find one that is fitting and suits the dog and the owners taste. By the way, people do name their german shepherd german names and words.

  8. Barbara March 19, 2011 / 9:05 pm

    Bye the way the words were listed as being from the Asthakaban language of Alaska.

  9. guehlstorf October 14, 2015 / 6:35 pm

    What a shocker!!! This post is many years old & has very few replies. It lacks greatly in recent replies as well. Hummmmm…why in the world would anyone not wish to read this post or return to this blog??? I cannot fathom such in a million years…

  10. monika October 27, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    Hello, i Will have soon samoyed female and looking for north name starting with “g”. Can you recomend me some of the names?

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