Inupiaq language

Inupiaq language

Infobox Language
nativename= Inupiatun, Iñupiak
states=United States, formerly Russia; Northwest Territories of Canada
region=Alaska; formerly Big Diomede Island
speakers=approximately 10,000
iso1= ik
iso2= ipk
iso3= aht
ld1=Inupiaq (generic)|ll1=none
ld2=North Alaskan Inupiatun
ld3=Northwest Alaska Inupiatun

Inupiaq, Iñupiaq, Inupiak, Inupiat, or Inupiatun are a group of dialects of the Inuit language, spoken in northern and northwestern Alaska. Inupiaq language is a member of the Eskimo languages group. There are roughly 10,000 speakers of these dialects. The speakers are known as Inupiat.


There are four main dialect divisions and these can be organized within two larger dialect collections:cite web |url= |title=Iñupiaq/Inupiaq |accessdate=2007-09-28 |last= |first= |coauthors= |]
*Seward Peninsula Inupiaq, consisting of:
**Bering Strait: spoken on King Island and the Diomedes and in the villages north of Nome; subdialects:
***King Island
**Qawiaraq: spoken in Teller, near the original village of Qawiaraq, and in the villages south of Nome as far as Unalakleet; subdialects:
***Fish River

*Northern Alaskan Iñupiaq: spoken south of Kivalina and around Kotzebue, along the Kobuk River and at the head of the Norton Sound, in Koyuk and Unalakleet; consisting of:
**Malimiutun, consisting of subdialects:
**North Slope: spoken along the Arctic coast as far south as Kivalina; subdialects:
***Common North Slope
***Point Barrow
***Anaktuvuk Pass (Nunamiut)
***Uummarmiutun: spoken in the Mackenzie Delta (Aklavik and Inuvik) in the Northwest Territories, Canada


The Inupiaq dialects, like other Eskimo-Aleut languages, represent a particular type of agglutinative language called a polysynthetic language: it "synthesizes" a root and various grammatical affixes to create long words with sentence-like meanings.

Inupiaq has three basic vowels: 'a', 'i', and 'u'. As short vowels, 'a' is pronounced like the 'u' in English 'nut', 'i' is like the 'ee' in the English word 'sleep' and 'u' is like the 'u' in the English word 'rule'. There are long forms of the values, written 'aa', 'ii', and 'uu'. In Inupiaq, long and short vowels must be distinguished because they make a difference in word meanings. Short vowels may be joined to produce the diphthongs 'ai', 'ia', 'au', 'iu', and 'ui'.

Inupiaq has 14 consonants. All stops are voiceless, which means that Inupiaq has the sounds of English 'p', 't' and 'k' but not the sounds of English 'b', 'd', 'g'. The consonant written in Alaska as 'q' is like the English 'k' but pronounced further back in the throat. The Inupiaq sound written in Alaska as 'g' is pronounced like a French 'r'.

Writing systems

Inupiaq was first written when explorers first arrived in Alaska and began recording words in the native languages. They wrote by adapting the letters of their own language to writing the sounds they were recording. Spelling was often inconsistent, since the writers invented it as they wrote. Unfamiliar sounds were often confused with other sounds, so that, for example, 'q' was often not distinguished from 'k' and long consonants or vowels were not distinguished from short ones.

Along with the Alaskan and Siberian Yupik, the Inupiat eventually adopted the written system based on Roman orthography ("Qaliujaaqpait") that Moravian missionaries first developed in Greenland and Labrador. Independently of missionaries from the south, the Alaskans also developed a system of hieroglyphics, which unfortunately died with its creators. [ [ Project Naming] , the identification of Inuit portrayed in photographic collections at Library and Archives Canada]

In the 1946, Roy Ahmaogak, an Inupiaq Presbyterian minister from Barrow, worked with Eugene Nida, a member of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, to develop the current Inupiaq writing system based on the Roman alphabet. Although some changes have been made since its origin—most notably the change from 'k' to 'q'—the essential system was accurate and is still in use.

Inupiaq alphabet(Atchagat)

[Kaplan, Lawrence (2000). "L'Inupiaq et les contacts linguistiques en Alaska". In Tersis, Nicole and Michèle Therrien (eds.), Les langues eskaléoutes: Sibérie, Alaska, Canada, Groënland, pages 91-108. Paris: CNRS Éditions. For an overview of Inupiaq phonology, see pages 92-94.]


Further reading

* Barnum, Francis. "Grammatical Fundamentals of the Innuit Language As Spoken by the Eskimo of the Western Coast of Alaska". Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1970.
* Blatchford, DJ. "Just Like That!: Legends and Such, English to Inupiaq Alphabet". Kasilof, AK: Just Like That!, 2003. ISBN 0972330313
* Bodfish, Emma, and David Baumgartner. "Iñupiat Grammar". Utqiaġvigmi: Utqiaġvium minuaqtuġviata Iñupiatun savagvianni, 1979.
* Kaplan, Lawrence D. "Phonological Issues in North Alaskan Inupiaq". Alaska Native Language Center research papers, no. 6. Fairbanks, Alaska (Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks 99701): Alaska Native Language Center, 1981.
* Kaplan, Lawrence. "Iñupiaq Phrases and Conversations". Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, 2000. ISBN 1555000738
* MacLean, Edna Ahgeak. "Iñupiallu Tanņiḷḷu Uqaluņisa Iḷaņich = Abridged Iñupiaq and English Dictionary". Fairbanks, Alaska: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, 1980.
* MacLean, Edna Ahgeak. "Beginning North Slope Iñupiaq Grammar". Fairbanks, Alaska: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska, 1979.
* Seiler, Wolf A. "Iñupiatun Eskimo Dictionary". Kotzebue, Alaska: NANA Regional Corporation, 2005.
* Seiler, Wolf. "The Modalis Case in Iñupiat: (Eskimo of North West Alaska)". Giessener Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, Bd. 14. Grossen-Linden: Hoffmann, 1978. ISBN 3880980195
* Webster, Donald Humphry, and Wilfried Zibell. "Iñupiat Eskimo Dictionary". 1970.

External links

* [ Ethnologue on North Alaskan Inupiatun]
* [ Ethnologue on Northwest Alaska Inupiatun]
* [ Alaskool Inupiaq Language Resources]
* [ Endangered Alaskan Language Goes Digital] from National Public Radio
* [ Online Iñupiaq morphological analyser]
* [ The dialects of Inupiaq] - From, includes Northern Alaskan Consonants (US Orthography), Northern Alaskan Vowels, Seward Peninsula Consonants, Seward Peninsula Vowels

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