Central Alaskan Yup'ik is a part of the Yupik branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. It is spoken in western and southwestern Alaska in the USA. In 2010 there were about 19,000 speakers of Central Alaskan Yup'ik, which is also known as Yup'ik, Yupik or Central Yupik. The native name for the language is Yugtun.
In 1900 A Yup'ik shaman called Uyaquq invented several scripts for Yup'ik. At first he created a pictographic script, and later devised a syllabic script.
At the beginning of the 20th century missionaries and their Yup'ik-speaking assistants devised a method of writing Yup'ik with the Latin alphabet. This alphabet was named after the Reverend John Hinz, one of the missionaries, and was used to publish translations of the Bible and other religious texts in Yup'ik.
In the 1960s a group of scholars and native Yup'ik speakers came together at the University of Alaska to develop a new orthography for Yup'ik. One of their goals was to devise an orthography that could be input on an English keyboard, without accent marks or extra letters. They also wanted to represent the individual sounds of the language with separate letters.
In older orthographies, c was written ch, ts or tsh, q was written ĸ or k, w was written wh, vv was written f, ll was written tl, tł or l̂, ng was written ng or ñ, u was written u or o, i was written i or e, and e was written i. Vowel length was not indicated, or indicated with a circumflex (â).
Some details provided by Tory Palmieri
Tawa-lu tauna qulireq irniama atiita, ikani Ingrissaaraam nuniin' ingrim', uksuigaqamta, inartaqamt'-irniani mikteɫratni quliratui mat'umeng. Can'iraam-taum quliratui mikteɫratni.
'Well now, this story was told by my children's father across there near Ingrissaareq; when we made winter camp at the mountain there, when we went to bed, he would tell this story to his small children. Can'irraq told this to them when they were small.'
(Cev'armiut Qanemciit Qulirait-llu / Eskimo Narratives and Tales from Chevak, Alaska, p.71)
Information about the Central Alaskan Yup'ik language
Yup'ik language materials
Alaskan Orthodox texts (Aleut, Alutiiq, Tlingit, Yup'ik)
Alaskan Native Heritage Center
Page last modified: 04.05.23
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