Unangax̂ (Unangam Tunuu)
Unangam Tunuu is the language of the Unangax̂ (also known as Aleut) people of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. About 150 still speak the language. It is divided into eastern and western dialects.
Unangax̂ is related to Yupik and Inuit languages, but differs in that it has a less complex morphology, generally with shorter words than Yupik and Inupiaq. Its vocabulary is significantly influenced by Russian, with hundreds of loanwords from the language. For example, the word for apple in Unangax̂ is yaavluka, from the Russian ‘yábloko’.
|Unangax̂||Click to Listen||English|
|Ukudigada||Good luck (farewell phrase)|
|Kamgam Ukudigaa||Happy Holidays|
|Inix̂sitakuq||I am happy|
|Qaĝatalakaq||I am sad|
Sugpiaq or Alutiiq (Sugcestun in the Sugpiaq language) is the language of the Sugpiaq people of Southcentral Alaska and Kodiak Island. Their language is closely related to Yup’ik, although speakers of the two languages would have difficulty understanding one another. About 200 Sugpiat speak the language today. The Sugpiaq language is divided into two main dialects: Koniag and Chugach. Koniag is spoken on Kodiak Island and on the Alaska Peninsula, while Chugach is spoken on the Kenai Peninsula and in Prince William Sound.
Sugpiaq is closely related to Central Yup’ik and the two languages share many vocabulary items, such as the word cama’i, meaning 'hello' or 'welcome.' The Sugpiaq language has seen a moderate comeback in recent years, especially on Kodiak Island, where several second-language speakers have been identified.
|Sugpiaq/Alutiiq||Click to Listen||English|
|Tang'rciqamken||I will see you (goodbye)|
|Qunukamken||I love you|
Central Alaskan Yup’ik is spoken in Southwest Alaska from the Bristol Bay to Norton Sound. Yup’ik has the largest body of speakers of any Native language in Alaska, with 10,400 native speakers. It is one of the only Alaska Native languages still being spoken by children (in some communities) as a first language. There are distinct dialects in Hooper Bay-Chevak (Cup’ik) and on Nunivak Island (Cup’ig).
Like Inuit languages, Yup’ik creates meaning by adding suffixes to a base, which can create extremely long words that would take a whole sentence to express in English. For example, the Yup’ik word tuntussuqatarniksaitengqiggtuq translates to “She/he said again that she/he was not hunting caribou.”
Yup’ik has been taught in schools since the 1970s, and in the 1990s, a Yup’ik immersion school named Ayaprun Elitnaurvik opened in Bethel. The University of Alaska Fairbanks also offers a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Yup’ik Language and Culture.
|Yup'ik||Click to Listen||English|
|Waqaa||Hi! What's up?|
|Piura||Remain how you are (farewell phrase)|
|Quyana tailuci||Thank you for coming (to three or more people)|
|Kenkamken||I love you|
|Cangacit?||How are you?|
|Casit?||What are you doing?|
|Tangerciqamken||I will see you|
|Tuaingunrituq||(leave taking phrase to someone from out of town)|
St. Lawrence Island Yupik (Sivuqaghmiistun)
St. Lawrence Island Yupik (or Central Siberian Yupik) is spoken by about 1,000 people on St. Lawrence Island (Sivuqaq in Yupik). About 90 percent of St. Lawrence Island Yupik people still speak the language, and most children still speak it as a first language. The language is also spoken in Russia, where it is spoken by 300 Siberian Yupik people. Yuit in Siberia and Alaska have had strong cultural and linguistic ties for centuries. Although those links were strained during the Cold War, Siberian Yupik in Alaska and Russia have been able to reconnect in recent years.
|St. Lawrence Island Yupik||Click to Listen||English|
|Natetaqsiin?||How are you?|
|Esghaghlleqamken||I'll see you|
|Igamsiqanaghhalek||Thank you very much|
|Quyaakamsii||Thank you for coming|
|Quyanalghi Kuusma||Merry Christmas|
Iñupiaq is spoken by the Iñupiat on the Seward Peninsula, the Northwest Arctic and the North Slope of Alaska. It is closely related to other Inuit languages across the Arctic in Canada and Greenland. It is divided into two main dialects: Seward Peninsula and Northern Alaskan. About 2,144 speak the language, most of them elderly.
Like Yup’ik, Iñupiaq has three grammatical numbers: singular, dual and plural. For instance, the word for polar bear is nanuq, nannuk or nannut, depending on whether you are talking about one, two, or three or more polar bear(s).
|Iñupiaq (North Slope dialect)||Click to Listen||English|
|Qanuġitpiñ?||How are you?|
|Paġlagivsi||I welcome you (to 3 or more)|
|Uvlaakulu||See you tomorrow|
|Niġiñaqsiruq||It's time to eat|
*Images courtesy of the Alaska Native Language Archive