CENTRAL YUP'IK AND THE SCHOOLS
A Handbook for Teachers

Written by
Steven A. Jacobson

Alaska Native Language Center

Developed by
Alaska Department of Education
Bilingual/Bicultural Education Programs
Juneau, Alaska
1984

This publication is available for purchase for $4.00 from the Alaska Native Language Center, Box 757680, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7680, or by sending e-mail to fyanlp@uaf.edu.

 

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PREFACE

Alaska has always had a multiplicity of languages and cultures. Until 1930, Alaska Natives made up the majority of the state's population, speaking twenty Alaska Native languages, often English, and sometimes Russian.

Today, Alaska Native students comprise approximately 87 percent of the language minority students enrolled in Alaska's public school bilingual-bicultural education programs. These students are from the Aleut, Athabaskan, Eskimo, Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian language groups. Other major language groups enrolled in programs include Spanish, Korean, Filipino, Russian, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

The Department of Education has developed a series of handbooks designed to assist classroom teachers, bilingual-bicultural education and special education program staff, counselors and school administrators in improving instructional services for students from Athabaskan, Inupiaq, and Yup'ik language groups. These handbooks address the unique sociocultural and linguistic characteristics of each group as they relate to the school setting. They also provide educational resources such as recommended readings, listings of school districts enrolling students from each group, and sources of information, materials and instructional assistance for each language group.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Alaska Department of Education wishes to recognize the individuals who assisted in completing this handbook.

Major presentations on the Yup'ik language and culture were made at the Department's summer institute on Bilingual/Special Education, Fairbanks, 1983, by John Pingayak of the Chevak Schools and by Steven Jacobson, Assistant Professor of Eskimo, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Members of the staff of the Alaska Native Language Center who have contributed to the planning and writing of this work include Lawrence Kaplan, Chad Thompson, Irene Reed, and Jane McGary.

While each handbook benefited from the assistance of these individuals, final responsibility for the handbook rests with the Alaska Department of Education.

 

CONTENTS

Foreword

Map

6

8

The Study of Language

9

Overview of the Eskimo-Aleut Language Family and the Place of Yup'ik in It

12

The Eskimo and Aleut Languages

12

The Yupik Languages

13

Dialects within Languages

15

Literacy and Education in Central Yup'ik

16

The Development of Yup'ik Writing

16

The Modern Yup'ik Writing System

17

Bilingual Education

18

Yup'ik Compared with English: Implications for Teachers

20

Differences in Sounds

20

How Important is Pronunciation?

22

Differences in Grammar

23

Yup'ik Grammar and Local English

25

The Teacher and Yup'ik-Influenced English

29

Discourse and Non-verbal Communication

31

Borrowing Words from One Language into Another

33

The Yup'ik Numeral System

34

A Brief Note on Yup'ik Eskimo Culture

Conclusion

Yup'ik Alphabet Chart

Selected Resources

Further Sources of Information and Assistance

Districts Serving Yup'ik-Speaking Students

Alaska Bilingual Education Enrollments

36

39

40

41

45

46

47

Bilingual/Bicultural Education Programs

48

 

FOREWORD

Purpose

This handbook has been designed to assist school districts in providing effective educational services to students from the Yupik language group.

This is one of three handbooks developed to increase school districts' and school personnel's understanding of selected Alaska Native language groups. They have been designed for use by administrators and all school staff who have responsibilities for the schooling of these students.

Development of the Handbook

The development of this handbook began in August, 1983, in response to the need for information regarding cultural and linguistic factors which should be understood in the school setting.

This handbook should be regarded as a first edition. It is difficult in one volume to depict the uniqueness and heterogeneity that characterize this language group. It should be recognized that any language group is complex and diverse, having a variety of needs and characteristics based upon different experiences. Much more research and work need to be done to ensure successful schooling for this and other minority language groups in Alaska.

Mike Travis
Program Manager
Bilingual/Bicultural Education Programs

 

THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE

A linguist's fascination with the study of language is based primarily on the complex nature of all language, man's foremost system of communication. Although the origin of language is uncertain, it is clear that all languages have evolved through time, changing with the history of the peoples who speak them. A language reflects the culture of the people who speak it by incorporating vocabulary appropriate to that culture. For example, Yupik languages have an elaborate vocabulary pertaining to seal hunting, while Japanese has many different forms of address appropriate to particular situations. In a sense, a modern language recapitulates the history of social and cultural changes among its people, as new words are added and old words dropped to suit a changing environment. For example, even a superficial comparison of the language of Shakespeare with modern English will show how language can reflect the changing attitudes and conditions which English speakers have lived with over the past several centuries.

The grammatical system of language is a systematic series of relationships which is part of the intellectual ability of anyone who speaks the language. The degree to which language is innate to humans, the way children learn languages, and the existence of so many different types of languages on earth all offer exciting possibilities for linguistic study.

As linguists try to learn about and describe different languages, they rely on a number of assumptions about the nature of all language; these may be considered universal linguistic truths. It is universally held true that all languages are equal in their ability to convey the thoughts of anyone speaking them, that all are effective and valid means of communication. No language is more suitable to human expression than any other, and none has ever been found to be more "primitive" or more "advanced" than any other. The linguist's objective approach to language does not allow ranking languages as superior or inferior, but we will see that cultural bias or prejudice may lead a person to favor one language over another.

Virtually everyone learns at least one language as a child, and some learn more than one. Throughout history bilingualism (the knowledge of two languages) and often multilingualism (the knowledge of many languages) have been common among people living where several languages are spoken. In Alaska, for example, in areas where the territory of one Native group bordered on another's, it was common for members of one group to speak the language of their neighbors as well. Among the three different groups of Eskimos in the Bering Strait area, there were frequent commercial and social relations, and many individuals learned the languages or dialects of their neighbors. Bilingualism is of course still quite common in Alaska today, especially among Native people who speak English in addition to their own language.

In an environment such as an Alaskan village where more than one language is used, different factors influence which language is spoken in what situation, determining the role of each language in the community. These factors can be quite complex, but generally we can recognize each language's domains, that is, the situations where a bilingual person will choose one language over the other. In such cases, there is often a so-called "intimate" language that is not the national or majority language and is used in the home and among family and community members. In official contexts, where one deals with government, institutions, or people unrelated to the home community, people are obliged to speak English, since outsiders do not speak the home language. In situations like this, it is typical that speakers of the minority language, Yup'ik in this case, will learn the majority language, that is, English, but outsiders will not learn the local minority language.

The relation between minority and majority languages brings us to the realm of linguistics pertaining to how people use language and how they feel about different languages. Many people have favorable or unfavorable attitudes toward certain languages, usually depending on the person's perception of the group that speaks the language in question. If that group is held in high esteem, its language too may be regarded favorably. If for some reason the group is disliked or accorded low social status, its language too may be looked on with disfavor. Such attitudes are often expressed in statements that a given language is not as good as one's own, or that it sounds unpleasant. Thus non-linguistic considerations, that is, social attitudes, can interfere with our appreciation and acceptance of languages other than our own. Sometimes the negative attitudes of other segments of society can influence people to feel badly about their own native language, causing conflict and confusion within the individual.

Attitudes about language play an important role in situations where more than one language is used, especially where a majority language such as English exists alongside a minority language, in this case Yup'ik. It is important to remember that all languages deserve recognition and respect as equally elaborate and effective systems of communication. Becoming familiar with another language and culture inevitably increases one's respect for them. Learning about another language also brings to light the linguistic accomplishments that characterize that language. No student of English can help but be awed by the genius of Shakespeare; so also, students of Yupik come to live and appreciate the rich oral literature of that language.

OVERVIEW OF THE ESKIMO-ALEUT LANGUAGE FAMILY AND THE PLACE OF YUPIK IN IT

The Eskimo and Aleut Languages

One sometimes hears or reads that Eskimos are a single people with a single language, or that any Eskimo can speak readily with any other Eskimo. In fact, there are a number of Eskimo languages so different that speakers of one cannot understand speakers of another. These are not just various "dialects" of Eskimo, but separate, though related, languages. People who speak different dialects of the same language can understand one another, but people who speak different languages cannot (unless they happen to be bilingual).

Eskimo languages are not known to be related to any other language except Aleut. Together Eskimo and Aleut form what is known as the Eskimo-Aleut language family. It seems certain that Eskimo-Aleut is not related to any other Native American (Indian) language, and though attempts have been made to link Eskimo-Aleut to various Siberian language families and even to Indo-European (the family to which English belongs), such theories are highly speculative.

The relationship between Aleut and the Eskimo languages is roughly as close as that between, for example, English and Russian (both in the Indo-European family). The split between Eskimo languages and Aleut probably occurred at least 4,000 years ago. Today, there are about 2,500 Aleuts, of whom some 250 still speak the language. There are about 100,000 Eskimos, of whom about 90,000 still speak Eskimo languages. About 1,000 Eskimos live in the Soviet Union at the eastern tip of Siberia, about 34,700 in Alaska, 23,000 in Canada, and 42,000 in Greenland.

Alaska has the largest number of Eskimos who no longer speak their ancestral languages. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that more non-Natives have moved into Alaska than into other Eskimo areas; another is that American authorities have been less tolerant toward Eskimo languages than have authorities in some other places, especially the Danes in Greenland. Furthermore, Alaska has the most diversity of Eskimo languages and dialects of all these areas, so here the temptation to adopt English as a common language has been more strongly felt. Alaska's linguistic diversity has no doubt occurred because Alaska is where Eskimo culture developed, spreading eastward only relatively recently (within the past one to two thousand years).

Within the Eskimo branch of the Eskimo-Aleut family, there is a split between Yupik and Inuit or Inupiaq. The difference between Yupik and Inupiaq is roughly similar to that between French and Spanish (both Romance languages). The Yupik-Inupiaq split probably occurred about one thousand years ago. At the present time, their boundary is at Norton Sound, with Inupiaq being spoken on the Seward Peninsula, the Kobuk River valley, the Alaskan North Slope, and across northern Canada and in Greenland. Yupik is spoken on the tip of Siberia, on St. Lawrence Island, in several communities on the Seward Peninsula (Elim and Golovin), and then south of Unalakleet, on the lower Yukon River up to Russian Mission, the lower Kuskokwim River up to Stony River, the deltas, coast, and tundra areas between and including Nunivak and Nelson islands. It is also spoken down to Bristol Bay, the Nushagak River, Lake Iliamna, the Alaska Peninsula down to the Eskimo-Aleut boundary, on Kodiak Island, on the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula, and around Prince William Sound as far as Cordova.

The Yupik Languages

Within Yupik there are five distinct languages, which differ enough from one another that speakers of one cannot understand speakers of another, although they may catch the general drift of what they are hearing. The five Yupik languages are Sirenik, spoken only by a few people in Siberia; Naukan, spoken only in Siberia (Central); Siberian or St. Lawrence Island Yupik, spoken by the majority of Eskimos in Siberia and by the people of Gambell and Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska; Central (Alaskan) Yup'ik,1 spoken on the mainland (and offshore islands such as Nunivak) in Alaska from Norton Sound through the Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Bristol Bay down to the Alaska Peninsula; and Alutiiq (or Sugpiaq) spoken from the Alaska Peninsula eastward to Prince William Sound.

1The spelling of "Yup'ik," with the apostrophe, refers only to the Central Alaskan Yup'ik language; this spelling is that of the language's standard orthography, and the apostrophe represents gemination [or lengthening] of the "p" sound. This gemination does not occur in Siberian Yupik. The spelling "Yupik," therefore, is used when referring to Siberian Yupik or to the Yupik family of languages. Some writers omit it when writing in English about Central Yup'ik as well.

In Alaska there are about 1,000 Siberian Yupiks, most of whom speak the language; 18,000 Central Yup'iks, of whom some 13,000 speak the language; and about 3,000 Alutiiqs, of whom some 1,000 speak the language. These figures and the percentages derivable from them are not totally informative. In some villages, nearly everyone from the youngest to the oldest speaks Yupik all the time, with English very much a second language. In other villages only the older generation speaks Yupik and virtually all children speak English, though they may know some words of Yupik and understand more than they can speak. Other villages present a mixed picture, with some children speaking some Yupik some of the time. The map Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska uses solid, half-filled, and empty circles to show which villages fit each of these situations. Even where children do not speak Yupik, or even where their parents do not speak it, the Native language still exerts a strong influence on the children. Just as descendants of European immigrants often speak a form of English that is colored by the language of their ancestors, of which they may be entirely ignorant, so the English of Yupik Eskimos (and other Alaskan Natives) is often strongly affected by the ancestral language, giving rise to Yupik-influenced English as the local mode of communication.

Dialects within Languages

In addition to the diversity between Yupik and Inuit/Inupiaq languages and that among the Yupik languages themselves, there are a number of different dialects and subdialects within both Central Yup'ik and Alutiiq (Siberian Yupik has one dialect within Alaska). The majority dialect of Central Yup'ik, General Central Yup'ik, is spoken in the Yukon, Nelson Island, Kuskokwim, and Bristol Bay regions; there are in addition three divergent Central Yup'ik dialects, Norton Sound, Hooper Bay-Chevak, and Nunivak. These three differ from General Central Yup'ik and from one another about as much as British English does from West Coast American English, where there are differences in pronunciation (or accent) and also in lexicon (for example, British "lorry" and American "truck"). Even within General Central Yup'ik there are subdialects, often differing in lexicon, much as the way in which some speakers of American English say "bucket" and others "pail," or some say "wiener," some "hot dog," and some "frankfurter." One point to understand here is that Central Yup'ik materials prepared by a speaker of one dialect may not be readily accepted by people in another area, even if they can understand them. This is partly because Central Yup'iks who speak one dialect are often quite unfamiliar with dialects or subdialects different from their own. Various areas often feel proud of their own dialects and this has led to people, for example, from Chevak calling themselves "Cup'ik" and some people from the lower Kuskokwim Bristol Bay area preferring the name "Yupiaq" to "Yup'ik."

 

LITERACY AND EDUCATION IN CENTRAL YUP'IK

The Development of Yup'ik Writing

Central Yup'ik (henceforth referred to simply as "Yup'ik") was not a written language until the arrival of Europeans, the Russians, around the beginning of the 19th century. Nevertheless, Yup'ik had a rich oral tradition of myths, stories, histories, and songs passed from generation to generation. Furthermore, the vocabulary and grammar of Yup'ik, like those of any language, can adapt to any newly encountered problem of communication. The increased use of English should not be regarded as evidence that Yup'ik and other Native languages are innately unable to communicate in the modern world. Any language can borrow or create new words for new situations. The earliest efforts at writing Yup'ik were those of missionaries who, with their Yup'ik-speaking assistants, translated the Bible, prayers, catechisms, and so on into Yup'ik. The missionaries found it possible to express even very abstruse points of theology in the Native language. It was only with the arrival of the American educational system that outsiders deemed it necessary for Natives to learn English, rather than having educational materials translated into the indigenous languages.

The missionaries had very limited goals when they created writing systems for Yup'ik. They did not teach literacy with a view toward people using it for letter-writing, diary-keeping, sign-making, or composing original works of fiction and poetry. Still, many people who learned the principles of Yup'ik literacy from religious documents adapted it to their own secular uses. This did not occur so much during the Russian period, when Yup'ik was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, as during the American period when the Roman orthography used by Catholic and Protestant missionaries was reinforced by the use of the same letters in English as the new Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, where people learned that literacy had more than just religious uses. Thus, even before the movement for bilingual education of the past twenty years, there was a modest tradition of literacy in many parts of the Yup'ik area, with letters, town ordinances, and similar material being written in the Native language.

The Modern Yup'ik Writing System

The Yup'ik orthography one sees nowadays (recognizable by the prevalence of the letter "q") was developed at the University of Alaska in the 1960s by native speakers of Yup'ik working with linguists. It was designed with several principles in mind: (1) it should be easily typed and typeset, avoiding diacritic marks and nonstandard symbols; (2) it should diverge no more than necessary from the older missionary orthographies; (3) it should not conflict with English writing any more than was unavoidable; and (4) it should accurately represent the sounds of Yup'ik. The older orthographies had failed in this last point. Since they were developed by European-Americans, they missed certain distinctions which are crucial in Yup'ik but hard for one not familiar with the language to hear. For example, Yup'ik, like all Eskimo languages, has not only a "k" sound much like English "k," but also a sound made farther back in the mouth. The two sound almost identical to a person who is not familiar with Yup'ik, but to a Yup'ik speaker they are completely different and often make a difference in the meanings of two similar words. Thus, the new writing system represents the back sound as "q" while retaining "k" for the front sound.

In some cases it was unavoidable that the Yup'ik writing system conflict with the English. For example, Yup'ik does not have the sound represented in English by "r." It does, however, have a sound that does not occur in English, but which does occur in French, where it is represented by "r." Missionaries familiar with European languages began to use "r" to represent this sound in Yup'ik, a practice continued in the modern orthography. One must remember that the Yup'ik "r," then, is different from the English "r."

The new Yup'ik writing system (which is actually twenty years old but is still called "new" in contrast to the older systems) is splendidly logical in that each spoken word can be written in one and only one way, even if it has several meanings (so that we never have cases like that of English "write, rite, right"), and each written word can be pronounced in one and only one way (unlike in English, where some letters such as "c" have a variety of sounds). This means that spelling Yup'ik can be taught not by memorizing words but rather by teaching the principles and then providing drills for practice.

Still, people who have studied the principles can have problems spelling Yup'ik for several reasons. First, the influence of English spelling is very strong, so that sometimes people forget the different values of a Yup'ik letter, and they will often spell sounds as in English. Furthermore, the Yup'ik writing system is designed for the ease of the experienced rather than the beginning writer. Thus, certain sound processes which invariably occur are not expressed in writing. For example, there is a rule of pronunciation that makes the vowel of every second syllable of a certain type sound long (written double); this happens in the word quyana "thank you." Inexperienced writers often want to write such a vowel double, even though it is not necessary to do so, any more than it is necessary to write an accent mark over the stressed syllable of an English word; speakers know which syllable to lengthen or stress when they read the words. For reasons like these, even though Yup'ik spelling is more regular and logical than English spelling, there are still good spellers and bad spellers, and learning to spell well requires much practice for most people.

Bilingual Education

The new writing system was created with its potential uses in schools in mind, for during the late 1960s there was a revolution in thinking about the education of children who come to school speaking languages other than English. Before that time, Yup'ik village schools, mostly run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, had immersed children in English as rapidly as possible. Some teachers went so far as to tape the mouths of children as punishment for speaking Yup'ik. The new idea, however, was that these children should study their basics in the primary grades in Yup'ik, learning to read, write, and do arithmetic in the language they knew from home. English would be taught as a second language. As the children learned more English, their studies in the upper grades would shift into that language, with some Yup'ik studies being maintained. This, of course, is what is meant by "bilingual education," and this philosophy, to various extents and with various adaptations, is being followed in most villages where children come to school speaking Yup'ik.

In many Yup'ik villages, however, the children come to school speaking only or primarily English. In these places a different form of "bilingual education" is in practice. Yup'ik is taught for only a small part of the day, as a second language, and is not used as a medium of instruction in other subjects. In this way it is hoped to keep the language alive to some degree in areas where children are ceasing to use it. People often ask, "Why bother?" The answer is that this maintains cultural continuity, which enhances young people's positive feelings about themselves, their culture, and their community.

 

YUP'IK COMPARED WITH ENGLISH: IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHERS

In the following section we will discuss some of the similarities and differences between the sounds and grammar of Yup'ik and English, with attention to some characteristics of the English of those who speak Yup'ik as a first language or who have learned Yup'ik-influenced English as their first language.

Differences in Sounds

Many sounds are present in both Yup'ik and English (such as "m" and "n"); some are present in English but not in Yup'ik (such as English "r"); and some are present in Yup'ik but not in English (such as Yup'ik "r," described above, or "q"). Finally, there are sounds present in a sense in both languages but which differ slightly (for example, English "p" and Yup'ik "p").

When your own language lacks a sound that you need to produce in the language you are learning, you substitute the closest equivalent from your own language until you learn to make that sound. Thus, English speakers learning Yup'ik use English "k" for Yup'ik "q" until they learn to make the "q" sound. This usually does not prevent them from being understood, although they sound odd; however, a person who cannot pronounce the back sounds "q" and "rr" (the voiceless form of Yup'ik "r") and wants to say qerrutaanga "I'm cold" will produce keggutaanga "he took a bite for me," though cases like this are uncommon. Likewise, a Yup'ik speaker learning English may have trouble with English "r" and substitute his closest equivalent, which is "l," saying, for instance, "ladio" for "radio." This, too, will usually be understood despite its odd sound, especially in context, as in "turn up the ladio." Another substitution Yup'ik speakers may make occurs because Yup'ik does not have the English "sh" sound; therefore, Yup'ik speakers may say "s" for English "sh," for example pronouncing "sack" and "shack" identically.

English distinguishes between the voiced consonant series b, d, j, g and the voiceless consonant series p, t, ch, k. Yup'ik has one series of consonants somewhat midway between the two English series. (Technically, the Yup'ik stop consonants are voiceless like the second English series but unaspirated like the first English series. Voiceless, unaspirated stops occur in certain consonant clusters in English, including the t in "stop" and p in "spy.") This is why unsophisticated writers of Yup'ik spell a word like pista "worker" sometimes with p and sometimes with b. It is also the reason some Yup'ik speakers do not distinguish English word groups like "pick, pig, big," which may all sound the same in their speech. On the other hand, when an English speaker says a Yup'ik word like akutaq "Eskimo ice cream," it often sounds like either "a-koo-tuck" or "a-goo-duck," neither really matching the Yup'ik pronunciation.

Yup'ik has a very simple vowel system, with four vowels written a, i, u, and e (the e sounds like the e in "roses;" technically it is a schwa). English, on the other hand, has a complicated vowel system in which the five vowels used in writing represent many more sounds in speech. The vowels in the words, "bit, bite, boot, boat, but, bait, beat, bat, bought, bet" are all different. One problem that arises from these different systems is that Yup'ik speakers may use a u sound for English long o, so that "go" rhymes with "to."

At a different level from these sound differences are differences in phonology, the rules that govern the sounds that can make up words in a language. For example, Yup'ik words cannot end in a cluster of two consonants, but English words can. Consider "acts" with three consonants, or sixths" with four (kk, s, th, s). Because of this, Yup'ik speakers may insert a vowel sound (Yup'ik e or schwa) between the consonants of certain word-final clusters, saying "filem" and "milek" for "film" and "milk." On the other hand, Yup'ik commonly has geminated (doubled) consonants within words, something that occurs in English only in a few compound words, such as "bookkeeper." English speakers may have trouble with these geminated consonants, leaving them single in words like Kass'aq "white person" or Yup'ik itself (in these words the apostrophe represents the gemination of the preceding consonant).

How Important is Pronunciation?

All the things we have said about the English of Yup'ik speakers (or the Yup'ik of English speakers) requires several important qualifications. For one thing, many Yup'iks have mastered the English sound system and have none of the nonstandard pronunciations described above. Likewise, English speakers can learn to pronounce Yup'ik sounds correctly. Moreover, anyone, not just Yup'ik speakers, may have the kinds of characteristics in their English pronunciation discussed here. Yup'ik or non-Yup'ik, Yup'ik-speaking or not, anyone who grows up in an area where the native language is Yup'ik may do these things, even if the person has never even heard Yup'ik spoken! This is because the Yup'ik-influenced pronunciation pattern in English has become to some extent the ordinary local variety of English in such areas. This happens in many regions of our country; for example, John F. Kennedy spoke English with an accent readily recognizable as having features influenced by Irish speech, but it is doubtful that he ever spoke or even heard the Irish language spoken as he was growing up.

This comparison brings up another point. An accent, a certain kind of pronunciation of English, is not necessarily objectionable. Most Americans took John Kennedy's Boston accent and Henry Kissinger's German accent in stride without holding it against them; their accents were no impediment to being understood. Teachers and others who deal with Yup'iks and other Natives who pronounce English differently from the way other Americans do often overemphasize "correcting" pronunciation. Drills have been devised to train students to differentiate between s and sh, p and b, or u and o. It would probably be better to focus one's efforts elsewhere. A regional, ethnic, or foreign accent is rarely a bar to progress in education and employment. There are, however, other aspects of Yup'ik-influenced English that may be far more worthy of a teacher's attention than pronunciation is.

Differences in Grammar

As mentioned earlier, Eskimo languages are not known to be related to any other language except Aleut. Certainly Yup'ik is as far removed from English as Chinese is, so one should expect grammatical differences between Yup'ik and English on the order of the differences between English and Chinese. We must not allow Yup'ik's written Roman orthography to mislead us into thinking that Yup'ik is as similar to English as French or German is. The vocabularies and grammars of French and German are much closer to those of English than are those of Eskimo. Even Russian is far closer to English than Yup'ik is.

Number and Gender

A grammatical problem that faces English speakers learning Yup'ik is that while English has two grammatical numbers, singular and plural, Yup'ik has three, singular, dual (two), and plural (three or more). Thus a learner of Yup'ik might use the plural when he should use the dual, saying for example tallinka for "my arms" (which might be appropriate if he were an octopus) rather than the correct dual form talligka. A problem that occurs when Yup'ik speakers learn English is that Yup'ik does not differentiate gender in pronouns, unlike English which uses different pronouns for male, female, and neuter. Thus a Yup'ik speaker learning English may tend to use pronouns of the wrong gender, for example referring to his mother as "he" or even switching from "he" to "she" in reference to the same person in a single sentence.

Word Order

A major difference between English and Yup'ik is in word order within the sentence. In English, the order in which words occur tells us which word is the subject and which the object, that is, who is doing what to whom. In Yup'ik, word order is much less important because grammatical endings on the words identify the subject, object, and other grammatical categories. For example, if we take the English sentence "the dog bit the preacher" and change its word order, we get "the preacher bit the dog" with a very different meaning. In Yup'ik, "the dog bit the preacher" is qimugtem keggellrua agayulirta, where qimugtem means "dog" and agayulirta means "preacher," with the correct endings for the subject of a transitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. If we switch the order, saying agayulirta keggellrua qimugtem, the sentence still means "the dog bit the preacher," because the word endings are still the same. To say "the preacher bit the dog" in Yup'ik we change not the order but the endings, qimugta keggellrua agayulirtem (or the reverse order, meaning the same). This grammatical difference seems to work more against English speakers learning Yup'ik, who have trouble getting the endings straight, than it does against Yup'ik speakers learning English, who do not seem to have much trouble with English word order.

Word Endings and Word Classes

Not only do Yup'ik endings show how the word functions in the sentence, they also show the number (singular, dual, or plural); they show whether the word, if a noun, is possessed, and if so, the person (first, second, third, or reflexive) and number (singular, dual, or plural) of the possessor. Furthermore, Yup'ik noun endings (like those of Latin) may incorporate an element equivalent to an English preposition ("to," "at," and so on). A Yup'ik verb ending shows mood (whether it is a statement, question, request, etc.) and also the person and number of the subject and, in the case of transitive verbs, of the object as well. The result of all this is that any Yup'ik noun or verb can have a truly staggering number of possible endings—several hundred, in fact. Note that this is true of nouns and verbs; other classes of words found in English (adjectives, articles, adverbs, etc.) may be lacking in Yup'ik with suffixes or whole changes in grammatical construction taking their place, or their role may be filled by nouns and verbs or by uninflectable words.

Suffixes

Suffixes play a far more important role in Yup'ik than they do in English. English, of course, has suffixes; in the word "argumentatively" there are three, ment, ative, and ly. English also has prefixes, as in "nonargumentatively," but Yup'ik does not. Yup'ik uses suffixes far more productively than English does. For example, a not excessively long word is angyaliurvigpaliciquq, which means "he will build a big place for working on boats." The starting point (base, or stem) is angyaq" boat," The first suffix(called a 'postbase') is liur "to work on"; then we add, in order, vig "place," pa "big," li "build," and finally ciq "will." The last syllable, uq, is a verb ending, showing that this form is a statement (not a question or request) and that its subject is third person singular ("he," "she," or "it"). Several things can be observed in this example. One is that the order of the parts of the Yup'ik word are exactly the reverse of the words in the English translation, so that the easiest way to translate it is from right to left. Second, the suffixes of Yup'ik each express an idea which requires a separate word in English—a noun, verb, adjective, or auxiliary verb. Tense ("will," future) is expressed by a suffix in Yup'ik. Lastly, this single Yup'ik word is a complete sentence, something that almost never happens in English, where a sentence must have at least a subject and verb.

Yup'ik Grammar and Local English

Whereas one can easily analyze the effects of differences in sound systems on a Yup'ik speaker's English or an English speaker's Yup'ik, it is much harder to determine the origin of a particular grammatical difference. One thing is certain, though: it is quite a feat for a speaker of one of these languages to learn the other. English speakers trying to learn Yup'ik soon realize this, and if they gain nothing more from their study of Yup'ik, they should at least acquire respect for the accomplishment of someone who grows up speaking Yup'ik and learns English as a second language.

Many of the grammatical characteristics of Yup'ik-influenced English which outsiders notice because they diverge sharply from standard English are the result of relatively minor grammatical differences between the languages, where the Yup'ik speaker is speaking English according to some Yup'ik pattern. Like the phonological features ("accent") of this dialect of English, its grammatical features may occur in the speech of those who do not speak Yup'ik but grow up in a Yup'ik area.

"Let" as a Causative

Newcomers to the Yup'ik area quickly notice that people use the word "let" in their English in the place of a number of different auxiliary verbs in standard English, including "let," "make," and "have." Thus, one may hear "Let him stop hurting me!" or "He let me cry." Here standard English would use "make" and "made" instead of "let." The reason for this usage is that in Yup'ik itself, "let, allow, permit" and "make, have, compel" are expressed in one and the same way, by a single postbase. "He let me eat" is nerevkaraanga, while "he made me cry" is qiavkaraanga, where the postbase vkar means either "allowed" or "compelled." One might wonder how Yup'ik can get by without distinguishing between "allowing" and "compelling," between "letting" someone do what he wants to and "making" someone do what he doesn't want to. For one thing, Eskimo culture is not nearly so compulsive as Euro-American culture; people simply are not often forced to do things they do not want to do. Coupled with this is the fact that the context of the postbase vkar is usually sufficient to indicate whether or not the action is likely to be against the person's will. Thus, crying is usually something one does not want to do, but eating is something one does want to do. If one wants to say in Yup'ik, "he made me eat, forced me to eat," one can add a qualifying word: nerevkaraanga piyuumiileng' erma, literally, "he let me eat even though I didn't want to," (where "let" is to be understood in its neutral, Yup'ik-influenced sense which includes "compelled" as well as "allowed").

Nouns as Verbs

Another thing a newcomer notices is the way certain English nouns may be treated as verbs with an auxiliary "go." Thus, one may hear "I have to go toilet" or "he wants to go college." This is probably another pattern taken from Yup'ik into English, for in Yup'ik it is quite legitimate to treat many nouns as verb bases in describing the customary activities associated with those nouns, using a postbase corresponding to English "go."

"Even" as a Conditional

In Yup'ik-influenced English, the conjunctions "even if" and "even though" are both replaced by the single word "even." In fact, in standard English "even if" applies only to future or contrafactual past statements ("even if it rains we'll go," "even if it had rained, we would have gone"), while "even though" applies to present or past factual statements ("even though it is raining, we're going," "even though it rained, we went"). Thus "if" and "though" are somewhat redundant and are omitted in Yup'ik-influenced English, resulting in sentences like "even it rained we went" and "even it rains we'll go."

Verb Tense

Yup'ik tenses, as noted above, are expressed through postbases, but the tenses of Yup'ik do not quite match the English tense system. For example, in standard English the simple present, e.g. "they use them," implies habitual action, while the present progressive, e.g. "they are using them," implies ongoing action. In Yup'ik, a postbase lar expresses the habitual feature, and there is no postbase to describe ongoing action. Following the Yup'ik pattern, Yup'ik-influenced English uses the adverb "always" to express the habitual, e.g. "we always use them." A similar pattern employs the adverb "never" for "not (past)," as in "I never eat yet" for "I haven't eaten yet."

One important thing about Yup'ik tense that may affect students' English is that a Yup'ik verb without any tense-indicating postbase may describe action occurring either in the past or in the present. For example, ner'uq may mean, depending on the context of the statement, either "he is eating" or "he ate." This pattern may be why people influenced by Yup'ik sometimes mix English tenses or use tenses in a nonstandard way. The teacher of such students may wish to make special efforts to explain the English tense system and its obligatory nature, giving plenty of models showing how to use tenses consistently and how to form tense sequences in complex sentences.

Articles

Yup'ik does not have articles corresponding to English "a" and "the." The difference between "the man shot a moose" and "the man shot the moose" is expressed in Yup'ik by using two different grammatical constructions which affect each word in the sentence. (The first is angun nutellruuq tuntuvagmek and the second angutem nutellrua tuntuvak.) Thus, in Yup'ik-influenced English, people tend to use articles in a somewhat nonstandard way. This is another pattern that speakers of standard English learn without much difficulty but that perhaps should be explicitly taught to school children in the Yup'ik area.

Changes in Meaning

When a Yup'ik word's meaning is similar to but not exactly that of an English word, the English word sometimes is taken as if it did correspond exactly, resulting in local meanings for certain English words that differ slightly from their standard uses. For example, the Yup'ik word qessauq means "he doesn't feel like doing anything, he feels lazy." People assume that "he is lazy" in English means the same thing, not taking into consideration the difference between "he is lazy (by nature)" and "he feels lazy (just now)," and so they use "to be lazy" just as they would use the Yup'ik stem qessa-. Thus, when one hears something like, "he didn't come because he's lazy," it does not mean quite what it would in standard English; it means that he is not inclined to act just now, not that he is permanently in that condition.

Of course, all this goes in the other direction too. English speakers learning Yup'ik will transfer their English patterns into it. Where English has a single word "take" Yup'ik has several meaning various things like "take with the hands" and "take along." People learning Yup'ik often choose the wrong verb to translate "take" in a given context. Again, Yup'ik has some thirty or more demonstratives corresponding to English "this" and "that." The choice of a Yup'ik demonstrative is determined by whether the thing referred to is in sight or not in sight, moving or still, above or below, inside or outside, and so on. This feature of Yup'ik grammar comes rather slowly to most English-speaking students studying Yup'ik. If more non-Yup'iks studied the language, we would probably see a systematic "English-influenced Yup'ik" developing; and in fact, where the younger generation does not use Yup'ik much, what Yup'ik they do use is being influenced by English patterns.

The Teacher and Yuplik-influenced English

We should note that not all the nonstandard features of Yup'ik-influenced English really are results of Yup'ik influence. For example, people in Yup'ik areas often use the English word "bum" in place of standard "bad," as in "this boat is bum." There is nothing in Yup'ik that translates better as "bum" than as "bad." Instead, the former probably came into local English from native speakers of English, perhaps miners and prospectors, who spoke a dialect where the word "bum" was used for "bad." This was probably also the source of "grub" for "food taken on a trip." Other features of local English probably arose on their own for one reason or another, such as the spread of some individual's reinterpretation of a word or pattern, but have lasted through the years because the Yup'ik area has remained rather isolated from the standardizing influences of general American English.

A teacher faced with the divergent variety of English encountered in a Yup'ik village may well wonder what attitude he should take toward it. As discussed above, people in general tend to be quite tolerant of accents different from their own, so variant pronunciation is not a serious problem. Nonstandard grammar, on the other hand, is not tolerated nearly so much. There is perhaps no logical reason for this, for as we have pointed out, many nonstandard patterns are as precise and expressive as the standard patterns they replace. However, anyone will concede that even though speakers of Yup'ik-influenced English have no trouble understanding a sentence such as, "From where you guys sometimes always get that kind?" (i.e., "Where do you [plural] usually get those things?"), it is asking a lot to expect everyone else in the country to understand it. Furthermore, and this is very important, while nonstandard pronunciation is filtered out, so to speak, in writing English, nonstandard grammar does carry over into writing. A person who speaks and writes only Yup'ik-influenced English will have trouble communicating in writing with the world beyond his own area. College essays, applications, business letters, or government reports written in nonstandard English are apt to get a highly unfavorable reception. Therefore, since one of the goals of the school system is to prepare a student to deal with the world beyond his local area, especially in activities where acceptable writing is important, a teacher must provide students with the alternative of standard English grammar.

This does not necessarily mean that the student must be "corrected" and made to stop using his own form of Yup'ik-influenced English, though this is certainly one common approach. Another approach is to try to make the student "bidialectal" in English, able to use different varieties of English in different situations. This expresses the attitude that Yup'ik-influenced English is acceptable, even preferable, in certain settings, but that standard English is necessary for success in other settings. Bidialectalism can be taught by more or less formal exercises involving translation from one dialect of English to another. There is a problem with this approach in that Yup'ik-influenced English is by no means uniform from village to village, family to family, or even person to person, so that exercises appropriate for one student may be inappropriate for another. The grammar of Yup'ik-influenced English would have to be studied far more systematically than it has been to date before teachers knew enough to develop such exercises. Furthermore, to many people, including some who speak it, Yup'ik-influenced English seems inferior and certainly not something to be legitimized by studying it in school.

A less formal approach is to tell a student speaking Yup'ik-influenced English that there is "another way" to express what he is saying and present him with the standard English alternative. Of course, this method, too, if used excessively, can inhibit the student from expressing himself verbally. Written work, other than that done in a "verbatim" style, should be in standard English.

Sometimes a newcomer to Yup'ik areas will discover the formerly unsuspected expressive powers of the local English, which he at first thought only an impoverished and degenerate form of the language, and will be so charmed by it that, consciously or unconsciously, he begins to speak it himself. By doing this, he deprives his students of a prime model for standard English and thereby does them no service. Exposure to standard English, both spoken and written, is an excellent way to teach bidialectalism. A person who reads a lot in English is bound to learn to write the kind of English he reads. Even television, whatever its drawbacks, provides a model of more or less standard English.

In summary, between the extremes of attempting to change totally the students' local English to standard English and accepting Yup'ik-influenced English as entirely adequate in all situations, there is a middle ground: teaching the students to use standard English when the situation demands it and does not permit the use of a divergent dialect.

Discourse and Non-verbal Communication

There is another level at which communication in Yup'ik differs from communication in English. This is the realm of discourse and non-verbal communication.

Gestures and facial expressions are probably the first form of nonverbal communication that comes to mind. These usually differ from culture to culture. To take only one example, Yup'iks often express an affirmative answer to a question by raising their eyebrows briefly. The equivalent English gesture is nodding the head. A teacher who is not aware of this may have to wait a long time for his pupils to answer verbally, "Yes," or nod their heads, instead of using a facial expression.

The book Qaneryaurci Yup'igtun by Hensel, Blanchette, and others has a delightful and informative discussion of some of these matters. For example, it discusses the different "leave-taking" procedures in Yup'ik and Euro-American societies. Yup'iks simply say a word or two and leave, but in White society there is usually an involved interchange. One consequence of this difference is that the uninitiated Yup'ik feels that Whites take forever to say good-bye and can't get to the point and leave, while the uninitiated White feels that the Yup'ik's abrupt departure must be evidence of rudeness or a reaction to some offense inadvertently given. (Teachers may also have a book specifically discussing this topic, Interethnic Communication by Scollon and Scollon; the principles covered by this book are extremely valuable, but we should note that its examples are drawn from Athabaskan culture, which differs markedly in many specific features from Eskimo.)

No one can doubt that humor is important in Yup'ik communication. Eskimos in general are famous for their love of laughter. Verbal teasing between certain kin ("teasing cousins") is well documented. However, what is funny in one culture and language may not be funny in another. In particular, English-language humor of an ironic nature, which depends on the listener taking what is said in a sense opposite from its literal meaning, is apt to be misunderstood by Yup'iks unfamiliar with this mode. For example, in English one can say "What a beautiful day" or "Thanks a lot" in a tone of voice that conveys quite the opposite meaning. This kind of verbal irony is not part of Yup'ik communication (although situational irony is a favorite plot device in Yup'ik stories). In vain the newcomer to Yup'ik areas wonders why the people fail to understand his jests when they are so full of humor themselves. The newcomer would do well to avoid sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, and understatement until he knows just how much of what he intends is actually being understood.

Borrowing words from one language into another

The Yup'ik language has about sixty words that have been permanently "borrowed" from English to the extent that their phonology has been changed to match Yup'ik phonology. Examples are ingek "ink," anainessaaq "onion" (from the plural, "onions"), patitussaaq "potato" (from "potatoes"), tiiviiq "TV," and snuukuuq "snow-go, snow machine." Not all "new" things on the Yup'ik scene, however, have English names. For example, "washing machine" is iqairissuun (literally, "device for removing dirt from things") and "airplane" is tengssuun (literally "device for flying"). Moreover, some of the words borrowed from English are hardly new to the culture, such as piipiq "baby." Sometimes words are inexplicably borrowed when a perfectly good Yup'ik word already exists. Other English words may be "temporarily" borrowed in a Yup'ik sentence, retaining as much of an English pronunciation as the speaker can give them. For instance, one might say "I voted" using a temporary borrowing, vote-allruunga, with the English o sound, or he might give the word an entirely Yup'ik sound, vuutallruunga.

Yup'ik also has several hundred loan words from Russian, but these are all totally integrated into the language in that their phonology has become totally Yup'ik, though they still stand out, to the experienced ear, from nonloan words.

Yup'ik words can also be borrowed into English. Some Yup'ik or other Eskimo words have become part of standard English, like "kayak" from qayaq, where English phonology has substituted k for the original q. Similarly in the English word "mukluk," the l is voiced because English speakers do not use the voiceless ("whispered") 1 of the original Yup'ik maklak. (In "mukluk" not only the sound but also the meaning changed; maklak means "bearded seal," whose skin is used for the soles of skin boots, but in English "mukluk" refers to the boot itself.) Ordinary Alaskan English includes a number of words derived from Eskimo, such as "ulu," "muktuk," and "kashim." Yup'iks speaking English, whether or not they also speak Yup'ik, commonly use other Yup'ik words in English conversation, usually retaining the original pronunciation. Some words frequently so used are akutaq "Eskimo ice cream," maqiq "steambath," uluaq "ulu, woman's semilunar knife," tua-i "enough," quyana "thank you," nacik "to cry after someone who is leaving," takarnaq "to cause inhibition," and akeka "ouch." As one can see from this brief selection, borrowed words are usually those whose English equivalents are long and clumsy (e.g. uluaq, akutaq) or short interjections that do not sound odd out of the Yup'ik context (e.g. tua-i, akeka). Such borrowing is a natural creative process in language, and students should not be urged to substitute English equivalents for these useful words. One need only look at a book such as The Joy of Yiddish to see parallels among other American ethnic groups.

The Yup'ik Numeral System

Throughout this work we have been discussing the effects of Yup'ik children's native or ancestral language on their verbal activities. One might well wonder whether there is any parallel effect in regard to mathematics. Yup'ik, like all other languages, has a numerical system with which one can count as high as one wishes. It is, however, a part of the language that is fast disappearing even in areas where children speak Yup'ik as a first language. Even many younger Yup'ik-speaking adults do not know the Yup'ik numerical system. Numerals are a part of language that can be easily replaced with numerals from another language, and this has happened in Yup'ik. Some people say, for example, qetunraqa fourteen-aanek alrakungqertuq rather than qetunraqa akimiarunrita' arnek allrakungqertuq for "my son is fourteen years old." This does no real violence to the Yup'ik language. On the other hand, the very autonomy of the Yup'ik numeral system makes it a subject that can be taught by itself without requiring much knowledge of Yup'ik, either conversational or analytical. It is all the more fascinating for children to learn the Yup'ik numerical system because it is a base twenty system rather than a base ten system as the English system is. This is a good way to show children, as is often done, the essentially arbitrary nature of a base ten system. Furthermore, knowing the Yup'ik numerical system can dispel the common misconception that Yup'ik (or Eskimo in general) cannot count very high. Sometimes this misconception is phrased as, "Yup'ik has three numbers: one, two and many," which undoubtedly stems from Yup'ik's having three grammatical numbers, singular, dual, and plural. By that criterion, English has but two numbers, one and many! Information on the Yup'ik numerical system is found in Chapter 18 of Yup'ik Eskimo Grammar. It is quite interesting to see how students, even those who know virtually no Yup'ik, quickly catch on to the functioning of this counting system and master it.

 

A BRIEF NOTE ON YUP'IK ESKIMO CULTURE

Not only is the Yup'ik language very different from English and Yup'ik-influenced English often at odds with standard English, but Yup'ik culture is quite different from general Euro-American culture. Every teacher, on first coming to a Yup'ik village, soon realizes that his students differ in subtle but significant ways from students anywhere else in the country; linguistic and semi-linguistic differences are only part of the story. Much has been written on Yup'ik culture, though as yet most of it is by outsiders. The reader is urged to consult some of the books in the bibliography of this work.

I would like to emphasize that Yup'ik culture as it exists today is a product of many influences. It is erroneous to regard today's Yup'ik culture as explicable solely in terms of the culture that existed here before Europeans arrived, just as one cannot explain today's general American culture solely in the light of pre-revolutionary colonial culture. In fact, Yup'ik culture has been more drastically influenced by outsiders during the past century than has general American culture. Missionaries successfully persuaded Yup'iks to give up their own religion in favor of Christianity by claiming that the latter was a universally appropriate religion. They had at least as much, if not more, effect on Yup'ik culture as did the school authorities (for whom they set the stage) who sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully urged Natives to give up their own languages in favor of English, claiming the latter was a universally appropriate language for Americans. Layered over the original pre-contact Yup'ik Eskimo culture is a stratum of early nineteenth-century Euro-American Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic. In some areas, miners left their mark on the culture. For almost a century now, schoolteachers and their families have been a decided outside influence on Yup'ik culture, not only in formal education but also in what Yup'iks learned from observing and interacting with these families. Many Yup'ik people have lived in cities in Alaska or elsewhere and returned with elements of general American culture. Magazines, radio, and now television have exerted a strong influence. These foreign influences extend to levels other than those of material culture (dress, food, housing, hunting and fishing technology). People's attitudes toward fate, the natural environment, their families and their communities have all been altered as a result of the interaction of the original Yup'ik culture with other cultures.

People question the relevance of village school curriculum to the lives of village children. The curriculum is not determined by the teachers, but they do have some degree of control over the emphasis and direction of what is taught, and a teacher cannot be happy or effective if he feels that what he is teaching is of little or no value to the students. A teacher may feel that if students were taught things more relevant to their lives as Yup'ik villagers, they would have an education of more benefit to them in the future and of more interest in the present. On the other hand, a teacher may feel that it is precisely the duty of the school to introduce students to Euro-American culture, whether that is interesting and relevant to the students or not. I believe that a balance must be achieved. Yup'ik village children should undoubtedly spend more time studying the seals, moose, and wolves that live in their area than studying the elephants, rhinoceroses, and lions that live in Africa. It is also important that Yup'ik children learn that there are Eskimos, related to them racially, culturally, and linguistically, living in Siberia, Canada, and Greenland as well as in Alaska, but it is not nearly so vital that children elsewhere in the United States learn this. On the other hand, it is a mistake to think that the education of Yup'ik children should be limited to lessons on subsistence living and Yup'ik traditions with a little English thrown in so children will be able to deal with the outside world when they have to. Yup'ik villages are part of the same world as everyone else is, and the interests, talents, and dreams of Yup'ik schoolchildren are as varied and individual as those of children anywhere else. Subjects such as pre-revolutionary American history, Greek mythology, geometry, astronomy, poetry, and geography should be as interesting and eventually as relevant to a child in a small, remote Yup'ik village as to a child in a large city.

To take up another point of controversy and misunderstanding, it has sometimes been observed that Alaskan Native societies are not nearly so competitive as non-Native American society. Certainly the degree of cooperation and sharing among Yup'ik villagers is impressive. However, one cannot automatically assume that Yup'iks truly do lack competitiveness or that Yup'ik children in the classroom will react adversely to the stimulus of competition. One need only look at the competition to see who can take the hottest steambath to realize that the competitive drive is far from lacking among Yup'iks. As for the school situation, an article in Alaska Native News (July 1983, pages 26-27) states in reference to St. Lawrence Island Yupiks,

The students' competitive drive is extraordinary . . . . This originated with the forefathers . . . . The villages formerly competed . . . in dancing, running, wrestling, and playing various Eskimo games. Contrary to public views in which Eskimos are portrayed as noncompetitive, being competitive is ingrained among the children . . . . By channeling this inheritance in a positive way, many of the students have achieved some outstanding academic attainments.

I do not wish to state categorically that Yup'ik children should or should not be encouraged to compete with one another in school, but rather to point out that while Yup'ik culture differs from Euro-American culture, one must be especially wary of leaping to broad generalizations.

 

CONCLUSION

It has not been my intention to tell teachers in Yup'ik areas how they should be teaching. Rather, it has been my goal to provide the teachers with answers to some questions they probably have concerning the Yup'ik language and its interaction with English. In the course of doing this, suggestions have been made concerning what seem to be good ways to approach various problems. There are many things teachers will have to find out for themselves as best they can, simply because no one knows the answers. The grammar of the dialect we have been calling Yup'ik-influenced English is not at all well studied; there are many features of that form of English that we cannot explain. Nor has anyone yet answered such questions as which language a child in a Yup'ik-speaking village will learn to read first, English with its often irrational spellings or Yup'ik with its logical spelling but tendency toward very long words. We have not been able to tell the reader how he should test such things as auditory discrimination, though from the discussion of sound systems and pronunciation it should be clear that caution is necessary. For example, it will not do to test a speaker of Yup'ik-influenced English for his discrimination between p and b, since in his dialect of English there is no difference. Such a test would only reveal that the child spoke that dialect rather than standard English. I hope, though, that I have been able to cast enough light on certain problems to enable a sensitive teacher to proceed from there.


Publication and Printing Information

This publication was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Technical Assistance and Training Programs, Grant Number G008200907. The opinions expressed herein do not, however, necessarily reflect the positions or policy of the U.S. Department of Education; no official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education should be inferred.

The right to reproduce all or any part of this publication in any form, including photoxerography, microfilm, or microfiche, is reserved by the Alaska Department of Education.

Published and Disseminated by
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First Printing, June 1984 500 copies
Second Printing, November 1984 300 copies
Third Printing, August 1985 300 copies
Revised Edition
First Printing, December 1991 250 copies
Second Printing, May 1994 300 copies
Third Printing, August 1998 300 copies

 

Cover photo: Doll family, made by Susie Brown, Eek. Photo by Chris Arend, courtesy of Alaska State Council on the Arts.

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