Cup'ik is a dialect of the Yup'ik Eskimo language. It is one of the four major dialects of the Yup'ik language: General Central Yup'ik, Hooper Bay-Chevak, Norton Sound, and Nunivak Island [consider the English language and a few of its dialects: Southern (e.g., a speaker from Texas), Eastern (e.g., a speaker from New York), and abroad; Australia and UK].
This guide is very helpful when using the Cup'ik Glossary
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.
These letters are not used in the Cup'ik alphabet: b d f h j o x z.
.......................Cup'ik Sound Chart
Single: a i u e..................................... .......................................Stops: p t c k q
Double: aa ii uu ................................................Voiced Fricatives: v l y g r w
..................ai ia ua ........................................Voiceless Fricatives: vv ll ss gg rr ww
..................au iu ui.......................................................Voiced Nasals: m n ng
........................................................ . ......................Voiceless Nasals: m n ng
Single vowels: a, i, u, e
[Note: all of the single vowels are short. The sounds a, i, and u are considered full vowels, because of the full sounds they make; the e sound is considered a lesser vowel, because its sound is almost inaudible and is not included in the double vowels.]
a: the [ah] sound as in the English word 'what'.
ex. ala, angak, manaq
i: the [i] sound as in the English word 'pin' or 'fill'.
ex. pili, ikika, cingiq
u: the [u] sound as in the English word 'put' or 'pull'.
ex. kulun, kuk'uq, culunaq
e: the schwa (indicated as an upside down ‘e’ in dictionary pronunciation keys) sound,
as in the English word 'bucket' or 'lecture'.
ex. kegginalek, evget, keneq
Double vowels: aa ii uu
..................ai ia ua
................. au iu ui
aa: [ä], as the 'o' sound in the English word 'long'.
ex. aana, aata, maani
ai: [ eye ], as in the whole English word 'eye'.
ex. tailuten, qainga, aipaq
au: [ou], as the 'ow' in the English word 'town'.
ex. tauna, aumak, auk
ii: [ee], as the 'ee' in the English word 'feel'.
ex. ciin, qiiq, iik
ia: [a], as the 'a' in the English word 'bad'.
ex. piani, mianikuq, maniaq
iu: [eew], as the 'ew' in the English word 'few'.
ex. ciun, ciutek, piuraa, kiugiu
uu: [ooh], as the 'oo' in the English word 'moon'.
ex. cuuguuq, uutuq, cuukiiq
ua: [ô], as the 'o' in the English word 'horse'.
ex. tuavua, Utuan, taigua
ui: [wee], as the 'wee' in the English word 'sweet'.
ex. cuinaq, kuik, muirtuq, aquiguq
Stops: p, t, c, k, q
p: sound between English p & b sounds, as the p sound in the word 'spill' or 'spit.'
ex. pap'a, piipi
t: 1) soft: sound between English t & d sounds, as the t sound in the word
'still' or 'stiff.'
ex. tuntuq, tawa, patu
ex. utnguq, awatmun, Cupiit
c: English [ch] sound.
ex. cuk, acacungaq
k: 1) soft: sound between the English k & g sounds, as the k sound in 'skill' or 'skit.'
ex. kan'a, kiiki, kaaka
2) hard: English [k] sound, usually made at the end of a word, or before a nasal
ex. Cup'ik, ikna
q: sound made further back in the mouth, in the area where the throat is cleared, placed
exactly where the Cup'ik r (fricative section) sound is made.
ex. qaqituq, qunguq, aqngirtuq
Fricatives (or continuants): [v, l, y, g, r, w; vv, ll, ss, gg, rr, ww]
Voiced: v, l, y, g, r, w
v: English [v] sound.
ex. evek, avneq, kaviaq
l: English [l] sound.
ex. elituq, al'qaq, liqneq
y: English [y] sound, as in yes, yo-yo, yacht, or the name Yani; but not in try.
ex. ayii, quyana, taryuq
g: placed exactly where the [k] sound is made, but tongue barely touching the roof of the mouth.
ex. egan, agi, agyaaq
r: placed exactly where the [q] sound is made, but tongue barely touching the back of the mouth.
A French person who pronounces the 'r' in the word Paris is exactly the same way our [r] sound is pronounced.
ex. uruq, arnaq, eruri
w: English [w] sound.
ex. wani, wangkuta, awani, waani
Voiceless: vv, ll, ss, gg, rr, ww
[Note: when a voiceless fricative is placed either before or after a stop consonant, then it will be undoubled, but still voiceless-- unless placed with a separator (indicated by an apostrophe) between them, thus making the fricative to become voiced; compare alqaq (voiceless--Yup'ik pronunciation of 'sister') and al'qaq (voiced--Cup'ik pronunciation of 'sister')]
vv: English [f] sound.
ex. avvutuk, kuvkaaq, civvluku (note: the l in 'civvluku' is also voiceless.)
ll: position your tongue as if you are going to pronounce the English [l] sound; then blow out the
sides of your mouth.
An example would be how the Welsh pronounce their [ll] sound, as in the names
Lloyd and Llewellyn. Another example (as merely an example) would be a person who has trouble pronouncing the [s] sounds, replacing them with [ll] sounds.
ex. allaneq, kalluk, cilla, qeltaq, iqluuq, elpet
ss: English [s] sound.
ex. Qissunaq, ciissiq, aqsaq, cisquq, peksutuq, pupsuuk
gg: placed exactly where the [k] and [g] sounds are made; example, make an English [wh] sound, then loosen your lips so that they are not rounded.
ex. maaggun, keggun, kegginalek, keggna, megtaq, pitgaq
rr: placed exactly where the [q] and [r] sounds are made.
ex. aarraq, qurrun, metraq, arca, uqrutaq
ww: English [wh] sound.
ex. atawwauguq, aukwaugaq
Nasals: m, n, ng; m, n, ng
Voiced: m, n, ng
m: English [m] sound, as in the English word 'mom'.
n: English [n] sound, as in the English word 'noon'.
ng: English [ng] sound, as in the English word 'swing'.
examples: maani, ingna, anngaq, pingraan, tengssuun
Voiceless: m, n, ng (when written out, these nasals have to have a hat, or an upward slanted mark, above them.)
[Note: when a voiceless nasal is placed after a stop consonant, it is automatically devoiced; thus there is no need for a hat.]
m: [hmh] (made simultaneously by blowing out of the nose)
n: [hnh] (made simultaneously by blowing out of the nose)
ng: [hngh] (made simultaneously by blowing out of the nose)
examples: ciniini, qimugtenguuq, taqmak
Notice below all the letters that are in bold print.
Those letter/sounds are automatically geminated, because they are between one and two vowels. There must be only one vowel in front of the consonant, and two vowels after it.
That means that they sound like they are sounded out twice, as in the English word bookkeeper. In bookkeeper, the k sounds are not separated. So are they in the automatically geminated Cup'ik words.
ayii patuu iliini nuniini ataata anaana assiituq quliini amatiini pikiu ellia
kegguulluten qapiara egauq aciani uquuguq kaviaq marualuni tawaam
qerruuq amiik cangaituq tamuaguq cucuuq pellaaguq passia
Marked gemination is indicated by an apostrophe. The syllable before the apostrophe is stressed, and the consonant right before the apostrophe sounds doubled.
pap'a (compare papa) cup'uq (compare cupuq) taq'uq (compare taquq) mit'uq (compare mituq) al'a (compare ala)
qup'uq (compare qupuq) qang'a (compare qanga) kiv'uq (compare kivuq) ang'uq (compare anguq)
Tung'i (a nickname)(compare Tungi) qurr'uq (compare qurruq) Cak'u (a nickname) (compare Caku)
muluk'uuq (compare mulukuuq) ap'a (compare apa) ul'uq (compare uluq) wall'u (compare wallu) cin'aq (compare cinaq)
Ul'a (a nickname) (compare Ula) Pin'i (a nickname) (compare Pini) mak'aq (compare makaq) tak'uq (compare takuq)
tegg'uq (compare tegguq) kass'aq (compare kassaq) cass'aq (compare cassaq) palagg'aayaq (compare palaggaayaq)
Sound separators are also indicated by an apostrophe. In this case, the apostrophe is placed between two sounds to separate them from either automatic devoicing and the [n] and [g].
can'giiq (compare cangiiq) Tan'giigaq (a last name) (compare Tangiigaq) al'qaq (compare alqaq)
Mik'ngayak (an Eskimo name) (compare Mikngayak) tan'gurraq (compare tangurraq) il'quq (compare ilquq)
aq'vuq (compare aqvuq) kal'taq (compare kaltaq) kal'ciissaq (compare kalciissaq) qup'luq (compare qupluq)
mul'tuuk (compare multuuk) it'gaq (compare itgaq) nav'pagtuq (compare navpagtuq)
Fricatives, whenever they are before or after a consonant, are automatically voiceless, unless a sound separator (apostrophe) is put between them.
For any questions about Cup'ik language and grammar, you may contact me, Rebecca Kelly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web design by Sam Ulruan
.... ...aana- mother
aarraq- hand string-game
acacungaq- father's sister (aunt)
aciani- 'underneath it.'
agi- 'go over.'
al'a- big sister (usually addressed as a term of endearment)
allaneq- stranger; visitor
al'qaq- big sister
amatiini- 'on the other side of it.'
amiik- door; porch
anaana- mother's sister (aunt)
angak- (short for angacungaq) mother's brother
ang'uq- 'it is big.'
aqngirtuq- 'he, she, or it is hurt physically.'
aqsaq- belly, abdomen
aq'vuq- 'he or she is running.'
arnaq- woman; female
assiituq- 'it is bad.'
ataata- father's brother (uncle)
atawwauguq- 'he, she, or it is a blessing.'
aumak- ember from a burned wood
avneq- ghostly humming sound
avvutuk- 'they2 are divorcing/breaking up.'
awani- 'farther over there.'
awatmun- 'towards farther over there.'
ayii- 'go away!'
cangaituq- 'he, she, or it won't do anything.'
cass'aq- wristwatch or clock
ciin- 'why?; how come?
ciissiq- bug; insect; low-crawling cold-blooded creature
cilla- the outside, universe, awareness, or air
cin'aq- aged salmon fish
cingiq- shoe lace
ciniini- 'on the edge of it.'
ciutek- two ears
civvluku- 'set the net.'
cucuuq- 'he or she would like to have the same thing.'
cuk- person; human being
culunaq- salted salmon fish
Cupiit- the Cup'ik People
cup'uq- 'the ice is breaking up.' (in the Spring)
cuuguuq- 'it is a person; it is a human being; he or she lives.'
egan- cooking pot
egauq- 'he or she is cooking.'
elituq- 'he or she is learning.'
ellia- 'he or she put it down.'
elpet- 'you.' (one person)
eruri- 'wash dishes.' (to one person)
evek- a blade of grass or reed
evget- plural of evek
ikika- 'for sure!'
ikna- 'that one across there.'
ingna- 'that one.'
iqluuq- 'he or she is lying.'
kal'ciissaq- a bb pellet, used in guns
kalluk- thunder and/or lightning
kal'taq- card from a deck of cards
kan'a- that one down there
kass'aq- white person; Caucasian
kaviaq- red fox
kegginalek- semi-lunar Eskimo woman's knife; ulu
keggna- 'that one out there.'
kegguulluten- 'take a bite.'
kiiki- 'come on; hurry.'
kiugiu- 'answer her, him, or it' (to one person)
kiv'uq- 'he or she feels miserable.'
kuk'uq- ghost or monster, usually said to and by a young child
kulun- ring used on a finger
kuvkaaq- to whistle
liqneq- a pattern used for making clothes
maaggun- 'this way.'
maani- 'here in this area.'
mak'aq- creamy Eskimo ice cream
manaq- hook, line, and stick for fishing or jigging
maniaq- fry bread or pancakes
marualuni- 'howling like a dog or wolf.'
megtaq- bumble bee
metraq- king eider duck
mianikuq- 'he or she is being careful.'
mit'uq- 'it is landing.'
muirtuq- 'it is full to the rim.'
nav'pagtuq- 'it broke hard.'
nuniini- near it
palagg'aayaq- beaver hat
pap'a- to eat; food (said to and by a baby or toddler)
passia- 'he, she, or it crushed it.'
patuu- 'close it.'
peksutuq- 'he or she found eggs.'
pellaaguq- 'he or she got lost.'
piani- 'up there.'
pikiu- 'have it.' 'you will tell him or her.'
pili- 'let him or her.'; 'make' (as an order to someone)
pingraan- 'even so.'
piuraa- 'bye.' (to one person)
qainga- 'the top or surface of it.'
qapiara- 'skin an animal.' (to one person)
qaqituq- 'he or she is done.'
qeltaq- fish scale; scab
qerruuq- 'he or she is having hypothermia or is very cold.'
qiiq- white or gray hair
qimugtenguuq- 'it is a dog.'
Qissunaq- the area of the Kashunak River
quliini- 'above it.'
qunguq- grave site
qup'luq- fly larva; maggot
qup'uq- 'it is breaking in half.'
qurrun- urinal, locally known as 'honey bucket'.
qurr'uq- 'he/she is urinating.'
quyana- 'thank you'
taigua- ' I'm coming over.'
tailuten- 'come here.' (to one person)
tak'uq- 'it is tall; it is lengthy.'
tamuaguq- 'he/she is chewing.'
tan'gurraq- young boy
taqmak- dress; skirt
taq'uq- 'he/she/it is quitting; he/she/it is done.'
tauna- 'that one.'
tawa- 'that's enough; no more; okay.'
tawaam- however; that is all.
tegg'uq- 'it is hard.'
tuavua- 'I am very busy.'; 'I am panicking.'
tuntuq- caribou; reindeer
ul'uq- 'it is high tide; the tide is coming up.'
uqrutaq- wind block set up on the ground
uquuguq- 'it is oil.'
uruq- wet moss
uutuq- 'he/she/it burned.'
waani- 'towards the exit.' (of a house or a river)
wangkuta- 'all of us.'
wani- 'right here.'
Central | Alaskool
Topics | Curriculum
| What's New
Resources | Links
Alaskool | Guestbook
1998-2004, UAA-ISER. Individual copyrighted materials on this site are used
with permission from the author or copyright holder and are provided for
and informational purposes only.
This site has graciously been supported by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, First Alaskans Foundation, CIRI Foundation, Alaska Humanities Forum, and U.S. Department of Education.
Alaskool is developed and maintained and hosted at
Institute of Social and Economic Research
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508 USA