Arctic Slope Community Foundation Launches Online Iñupiaq Dictionary

Jun 14, 2022 | Alaska Native, Education, News, Nonprofits, Telecom & Tech

Whale Bones in Utqiagvik, Alaska

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Ikayuutisa avanmun Iñupiuraaġnikun is Iñupiaq for “Let’s help each other learn Iñupiaq.” A new website by Arctic Slope Community Foundation aims to do exactly that.

How to Say It

The language learning website combines Iñupiaq language preservation with modern technology. Funded by the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services and administered by Arctic Slope Community Foundation, the site was built by Yup’ik web developers Christopher Egalaaq Liu and Lonny Alaskuk Strunk.

The site references the North Slope Iñupiaq dictionary primarily written in the ‘80s by Dr. Edna Ahgeak Paniattaaq MacLean, a linguist, anthropologist, and educator who also collaborated on the translation to a digital format. The goal is to make learning the Iñupiaq language easier for all.

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Based on the language website Liu and Strunk made for their Yup’ik language a few years ago, Iñupiatun Uqaluit Taniktun Sivuniŋit (the North Slope Iñupiaq to English Dictionary) is the first of its kind for the dialect.

In addition to translating vocabulary terms between English and Iñupiaq, the website has a sentence-building function and an audio library to hear the way the words are pronounced. Once a vocabulary is established, the person learning can learn the proper way to structure the words in a sentence and then reference the correct pronunciation in the audio library.

Inupiaq Online

A screenshot of the North Slope Iñupiaq to English Dictionary website.

Arctic Slope Community Foundation

The site is still in development, so only select words and phrases have audio counterparts. Phonetic pronunciation guides have not been added to entries, either.

Iñupiaq is one of Alaska’s twenty-one official languages, formally designated in 2014 to preserve the state’s original languages. Linguists estimate more than 200 Alaska Native languages have gone extinct since contact with Europeans.

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