Nunivak Cupʼig language

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Nunivak Cup'ig
Native toUnited States
RegionCentral Alaska, Nunivak Island
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Nunivak Cup'ig or just Cup'ig (own name Cugtun) is a language or separate[1] dialect of Central Alaskan Yup'ik spoken in Central Alaska at the Nunivak Island by Nunivak Cup'ig people (own name Cup'it or Nuniwarmiut). The letter "c" in the Yup’ik alphabet is equivalent to the English alphabet "ch".

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

The Cup'ig dialect is threatened. This fact was documented by Dr. Michael E. Krauss of the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska and is illustrated on the map. In 1975, Krauss indicated, "Some of the children speak the language".[2] Krauss documented continued decline and downgraded the status to "Very few or none of the children speak the language"[3] in 1982.

Today Cup'ig is spoken by elders in the village of Mekoryuk.[4]


Central Alaskan Yup'ik-speaking areas

The comparison of number names in the three dialects

Hooper Bay-Chevak
atauciq atauciq ataucir 1
malruk malruk malzrug 2
pingayun pingayun pingayun 3
cetaman citaman cetaman 4
talliman talliman talliman 5
arvinglegen / arvinelgen arvinelgen arwinleg 6
malrunlegen / malrunelgen malrunelgen malzrunleg 7
pingayunlegen / pingayunelgen pingayunelgen pingayunleg 8
qulngunritaraan qulngunritaraq qulngunrita’ar 9
qula / qulen qula qula 10
qula atauciq qula atauciq qula-ataucir 11
qula malruk qula malruk qula-malzrug 12
qula pingayun qula pingayun qula-pingayun 13
akimiarunrita’ar akimiarunritaraq akimiarunrita’ar 14
akimiaq akimiaq akimiar 15
akimiaq atauciq akimiaq atauciq akimiar ataucir 16
akimiaq malruk akimiaq malruk akimiar malzrug 17
akimiaq pingayun akimiaq pingayun akimiar pingayun 18
yuinaunrita’ar cuinaunritaraq cuinaunrita’ar 19
yuinaq cuinaq cuinar 20
yuinaq qula / yuinaq qulen cuinaq qula cuinar-qula 30
yuinaak malruk / malruk ipiaq (Yukon) malruk ipiaq malzrug-ipiar 40
yuinaak malruk qula malruk ipiaq qula . 50
yuinaat pingayun / pingayun ipiaq pingayun ipiaq pingayun ipiar 60
yuinaat pingayun qula pingayun ipiaq qula . 70
yuinaat cetaman citaman ipiaq cetaman-ipiar 80
yuinaat cetaman qula citaman ipiaq qula talliman ipiar qula 90
yuinaat talliman talliman ipiaq talliman ipiar 100
tiissitsaaq tiititsaaq / tiissitsaaq tiisiss'ar 1.000
qulen tiissitsaat . . 10.000
yuinaat talliman tiissitsaaq . . 100.000
miilicaaq ciicitsaaq . 1.000.000
tiissitsaaq miilicaaq . .

Grammatical numbers[edit]

The grammatical numbers:

singular dual plural meaning
qusngir qusngig qusngit domestic reindeer
iqalluyagar iqalluyagag iqalluyagat Dolly Varden
qay'ar qay'ag qay'at / qass'it kayak
tuutangayag tuutangayiigeg tuutangayit Canada goose
alpa alpag alpat murre
qimugta qimugteg qimugtet dog


The Cup'ig peoples' only school, the Nuniwarmiut School (P/K-12th grade), lies within the Lower Kuskokwim School District, in the village of Mekoryuk. Built in 1984,[10] the school provides English and Cup’ig bilingual education for 32 students.[11]

Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, Inc. (literally, "Nunivak Cultural Programs") is a non-profit cultural heritage organization of the Cup'ig Eskimo village of Mekoryuk, its mission being to preserve Nunivak Island Cup'ig culture, traditions, and language. NPT was established in 1999.[12]

Example phrases[edit]

A Nunivak Cup'ig man with raven maskette. The raven (Cup'ig tulukarug) is Ellam Cua or Creator god in the Cup’ig mythology
  • Cangacit? - How are you?
  • Canritua - I am fine
  • Unuakukegci - Good morning
  • Agayunerpakegcikici - Have a very Merry Christmas
  • Allrakularakegciluci-llu - And have a Happy New Year
  • Taqukat, maklit neqkanka - Seals, bearded seals is my food
  • Quyana - Thanks
  • Quyana niicugnillua - Thank you for listening to me.
  • Quyana naqluki allnganka - Thank you for reading what I wrote.

Russian loanwords[edit]

The Russian loanwords used in Nunivak Cup’ig date from the period of the Russian America (1733–1867).

  • caarralar (< Rus. сахар) 'sugar'
  • caayu (< Rus. чай) 'tea'
  • caanig (< Rus. чайник) 'tea kettle'
  • cap’akir ( < Rus. сапоги) 'shoe'
  • cass’ar (< Rus. часы) 'clock'
  • culunar (?< Rus. солонина 'salted meat') 'salted fish'
  • kelipar (< Rus. хлеб) 'bread'
  • maslar (< Rus. масло) 'butter; margarine'
  • miss’ug (< Rus. мешок) 'burlap bag'
  • mulut’ug (< Rus. молоток) 'hammer'
  • paltug (< Rus. пальто) 'coat; jacket'
  • pelatekar (< Rus. палатка) 'tent'
  • putuskar (< Rus. подушка) 'pillow'
  • tiisiss’ar (< Rus. тысяча) 'thousand; one thousand dollars'
  • yaassig : (< Rus. ящик) 'box; cardboard box'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobson, Steven (2006). "The participial oblique, a verb mood found only in Nunivak Central Alaskan Yup'ik and in Siberian Yupik". Études/Inuit/Studies. 30 (1): 135–156. doi:10.7202/016154ar.
  2. ^ Krauss, Michael E. (1975). Native peoples and languages of Alaska. [Map]. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska.
  3. ^ Krauss, Michael E. (1982). Native peoples and languages of Alaska. [Map]. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska.
  4. ^ "Lower Kuskokwim School District". Archived from the original on 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  5. ^ Lipka, Jerry (1994). "Culturally Negotiated Schooling: Toward a Yup'ik Mathematics". Journal of American Indian Education. 33 (3): 14–30. JSTOR 24398325.
  6. ^ How to count in Yup’ik
  7. ^ Reed, Irene; Miyaoka, Osahito; Jacobson, Steven; Afcan, Paschal; Krauss, Michael (1977). Yup'ik Eskimo Grammar. Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska. ISBN 978-0-933769-26-7.[page needed]
  8. ^ On the Facebook: Cup'ik Word Of The Day - Chevak[unreliable source?] by Rebecca Nayamin (Cup’ik Language Orthographist)
  9. ^ Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalkuti, Nunivak Island Cup'ig Language Preliminary Dictionary Archived 2012-08-05 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Nuniwarmiut Schools". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  11. ^ Mekoryuk Schools
  12. ^ Nuniwarmiut Piciryarata Tamaryalicuti

External links[edit]