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Language Information


Eskimo is spoken over a vast area extending from Greenland across Canada and Alaska, and into Siberia. Speakers in Greenland number 50,000, in Alaska 25,000, and in Canada 25,000. In the Russia about 1,000 Eskimos live in northeastemmost Siberia, in the area near the Bering Strait.

Considering this vast territory, it is remarkable that there are only two major dialects of Eskimo, and that one of them, known as Inupik, is spoken almost uniformly across Greenland, Canada, and northern Alaska. But at an imaginary line running east-west across central Alaska there is an abrupt change: Eskimos living south of this line speak a dialect, known as Yupik, that is completely unintelligible to Inupik speakers. The line reaches Norton Sound on the west coast between the towns of Unalakleet, where Inupik is spoken, and St. Michael, which is Yupik-speaking. Yupik, or variations thereof, is also spoken in Siberia.

The only language known to be related to Eskimo is the Aleut language of the Aleutian Islands. The two are not mutually intelligible, but there are sufficient similarities to indicate that they were a single language several thousand years ago. Together they form the Eskimo--Aleut family. The Eskimos call themselves inuit, or "people." The word Eskimo comes from the language of the Cree Indians—their immediate neigh-bors to the south in the area of Hudson Bay—and means "eaters of raw flesh." Igloo and kayak are two Eskimo words that have entered the English language. In Eskimo they simply mean "house" and "boat" respectively.

The writing of Eskimo dates back as far as 1721 when the Roman alphabet was introduced into Greenland. In 1937 the Soviet government developed a Cyrillic-based alphabet for the use of Russia's 1,000 Eskimos.


Eskimo is spoken/used in the following countries:
Canada, Greenland (Danish), Russia, United States of America.

Language Family
Family: Eskimo-Aleut


Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.


Writing Sample


Writing Sample

Translation


Two girls carrying small babies in back-pouches were walking over a plain. On their way they tumbled into a large cave. In it there was a really huge ogre. This bad fellow ate their small babies and told the girls that he would surely eat them the next day. But the girls fled without the ogre noticing it and went home. And when they told their story their relatives set out to fight the ogre.
One of them went down into the big cave carrying a rope with him. He stole up on the ogre and tied the rope around its instep. And from above his fellows pulled the ogre up and killed it.