Intro to Iñupiat

The Iñupiat language is spoken in northern Alaska by the Iñupiat people. The language is referred to as Iñupiat, Iñupiaq, and Iñupiatun. For the sake of consistency, this site will refer to the language as ‘Iñupiat.’

Copyright © 2011
Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage

There are four major dialects of Alaska Iñupiat: North Slope, Malimiut, Qawiaraq and Bering Strait. Each major dialect has its own sub-dialects.

Some Neat Characteristics of Iñupiat:

  1. A sentence can be a single short or long word
    • Iḷisautiaqsiñiġai. ‘He/she started teaching them.’
    • Airuq. ‘He/she is going home’
  2. The 3rd person pronoun is genderless
    • Ilaa ‘He/she/it’
  3. Nouns have not only singular and plural forms, but also dual forms as well
    • aġnaq ‘woman’
    • aġnak ‘(2) women’
    • aġnat ‘women’
  4. Word order is flexible
    • ‘The boy is eating akutuq (Eskimo ice cream).’
      • Aŋutaiyaaq niġiruq akutumik.
      • Niġiruq akutumik aŋutaiyaaq.
      • Akutumik niġiruq aŋutaiyaaq.