World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Chevak Cup’ik language


Chevak Cup’ik language

Chevak Cup’ik
Native to United States
Region Central Alaska (Chevak)
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list

Chevak Cup’ik or just Cup’ik (own name Cugtun) is a language or separate subdialect of Hooper Bay–Chevak dialect of Yup'ik spoken in southwestern Alaska in the Chevak (own name Cev’aq) by Chevak Cup’ik Eskimos (own name Cup’it or Cev’allrarmuit).[1][2][3] The speakers of the Chevak subdialect used for themselves as Cup'ik (not Yup'ik), but, the speakers of the Hooper Bay subdialect used for themselves as Yup'ik (not Cup'ik), like Yukon-Kuskokwim dialect. Actually, Cup’ik spoken in Chevak is closer to General Central Yup’ik than it is to Nunivak Cup’ig, therefore they should not be equated. The Cup'ik dialect is threatened. The Yup'ik letter c is pronounced as an English ch.

The Central Alaskan Yupik who in the village of Chevak call themselves Cup'ik (plural Cup'it). Those who live on Nunivak Island (Nuniwar in Nunivak Cup'ig, Nunivaaq in Central Yup'ik) call themselves Cup'ig (plural Cup'it). The name Cup'ig (with g) used for Nunivak Island Yup'ik dialect. But, the name Cup'ik (with k) used for Hooper Bay-Chevak Yup'ik dialect.

The oldest fully bilingual person in Chevak is Leo Moses, born in 1933; there are few if any persons born after 1945 who do not speak English.[1]

The first documentation of the Hooper Bay-Chevak dialect (beyond occasional citations) is found in unpublished notes of Jesuit priests residing ay Hooper Bay and Kashunuk in the 1920s and 1930s. Published recognition of Hooper Bay-Chevak speech as a dialect of Yup'ik seems to begin with Michael E. Krauss in 1973,[4] although needles to say, these dialect differences have been common knowledge among native speakers.[1]


  • Education 1
  • Classification 2
  • Vocabulary comparison 3
  • Phonology 4
  • Russian loanwords 5
  • The names of days and months 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Chevak, the school (blue), lake, and condemned old school (red)

The Cup’ik dialect is distinguished from Yup’ik by the change of "y" sounds into "ch" sounds, represented by the letter "c", and by some words that are completely different from Yup'ik words.

This unique identity has allowed them to form a single-site school district, the Kashunamiut School District, rather than joining a neighboring Yup’ik school district. English and Cup’ik bilingual education is done at this school. There is a tri-language system in Chevak; English, Cup’ik, and a mixture of the two languages.

Before 1950 formal education for students in Chevak took place in the Qaygiq[5] (semi-underground men's community house), and in the homes of the people.[6]


Central Alaskan Yup'ik-speaking areas

Vocabulary comparison

The comparison of some words in the two dialects.

Yukon-Kuskokwim Yup’ik Chevak Cup’ik meaning
elicaraq (Y) / elitnauraq (K) elicaraq
skuularaq (Cup’ik English mixed language)
elicarista (Y) / elitnaurista (K) elicarta
skuularta (Cup’ik English mixed language)
yugnikek’ngaq aiparnatugaq friend
yuilquq cuilquq the wilderness; tundra
nuussiq caviggaq knife (not semi-lunar)
uluaq kegginalek ulu, semi-lunar woman's knife
canek evek a blade or stalk of grass
ellalluk ivyuk rain


There are 18 letters used in the Cup’ik alphabet: a c e g i k l m n p q r s t u v w y.[7]

These letters are not used in the Cup’ik alphabet: b d f h j o x z.


  • Short vowels: a i u e
  • Long vowels: aa ii uu
  • Diphthongs: ai ui au iu ua ia


  • Stops: p t c k q
  • Voiced fricatives: v l y g r w
  • Voiceless fricatives: vv ll ss gg rr ww
  • Voiced nasals: m [m] n [n] ng [ŋ]
  • Voiceless nasals: m [m̥] n [n̥] ng [ŋ̊]

Russian loanwords

Hooper Bay youth, 1930

The Russian loanwords used in Chevak Cup’ik date from the period of the Russian America (1733–1867).[8]

  • caarralaq (< Rus. сахар) 'sugar'
  • caayuq (< Rus. чай) 'tea'
  • caanik (< Rus. чайник) 'tea kettle'
  • cap’akiq ( < Rus. сапоги) 'shoe'
  • cass’aq (< Rus. часы) 'clock'
  • culunaq (?< Rus. солонина 'salted meat') 'salted fish'
  • kalantaassaq (< Rus. карандаш) 'pencil'
  • kalmaaniq (< Rus. карман) 'pocket'
  • kelipaq (< Rus. хлеб) 'bread'
  • luussitaq (< Rus. лошадь) 'horse'
  • mass’laq (< Rus. масло) 'butter; margarine'
  • missuulleq (< Rus. мешок) 'burlap sack'
  • muluk’uuq (< Rus. молоко) 'milk'
  • mult’uuq (< Rus. молоток) 'hammer'
  • pal’tuuk (< Rus. пальто) 'coat; jacket'
  • pelatekaq (< Rus. палатка) 'tent'
  • putuskaq (< Rus. подушка) 'pillow'
  • spickaq : (< Rus. спичка) 'match'
  • tiititsaaq / tiissitsaaq (< Rus. тысяча) 'thousand; one thousand dollars'
  • yaassiik : (< Rus. ящик) 'box; cardboard box'

The names of days and months

  • erneq day
  • Agayuneq ('praying') Sunday
  • Pekyun ('movement') Monday
  • Aipirin ('next') Tuesday
  • Pingayirin ('third') Wednesday
  • Citamirin ('fourth') Thursday
  • Tallimirin ('fifth') Friday
  • Maqineq ('steambath') Saturday
  • iraluq month
  • Agayuulek ('icicles') January
  • Nakrutlek ('accurate shooter') February
  • Neqlelek ('white front geese') March
  • Tunturalek ('reindeer') April
  • Cupun ('breaking river ice') May
  • Kaugun ('clubbing fish') June
  • Essgun ('newly hatched eggs') July
  • Putukuarun ('waddling ducks & geese') August
  • Amiirairun ('shedding') September
  • Cauyaun ('drumming') (in Chevak) / Ipukaqun (in Hooper Bay) October
  • Kanruyauciq ('frost') November
  • Angunquyugtuun ('big toe') December

See also


  1. ^ a b c Woodbury, Anthony Cabot (1981), Study of the Chevak dialect of Central Yup'ik Eskimo. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  2. ^ Woodbury, Anthony Cabot (2002). "The word in Cup'ik". In Dixon, R. M. W. and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.) Word: A cross-linguistic typology, 79-99. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Woodbury, Anthony Cabot (2004). Morphological Orthodoxy in Yupik-Inuit. University of Texas, Austin
  4. ^ Krauss, Michael E. (1973). Eskimo-Aleut. current trends in linguistics 10, ed. by Thomas a. Sebeok, 796-902. The Hague: Mouton.
  5. ^ Qaygiq (Men’s House) by Dr. John Pingayak
  6. ^ Alaskool: Guidebook for Integrating Cup'ik Culture and Curriculum
  7. ^
  8. ^ David A Peterson (1991), Russian loan words in Central Alaskan Yup'ik. Fairbanks, Alaska, april 1991.

External links

  • Alaskool: Chevak Cup’ik Glossary
  • Alaskool: Guidebook for Integrating Cup'ik Culture and Curriculum
  • Kashunamiut School District
  • On the Facebook: Cup'ik Word Of The Day - Chevak by Rebecca Nayamin (Cup’ik Language Orthographist)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.