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Nuta’at Niugnelistat - New Words Makers

How do you say computer or email in Alutiiq?  A few years ago, this question would have been difficult to answer, because there were no Alutiiq words for these items.  This situation is changing with the help of a dedicated council of Elders.  Nick Alokli, Florence Pestrikoff, Mary Haakanson, Paul Kahutak, Irene Coyle, Fred Coyle, Dennis Knagin, Sophie Katelnikoff Shepherd, Phyllis Peterson, Kathryn Chichenoff, Marty Peterson, and Martha Rozelle have been meeting monthly to help the Alutiiq langauge grow with the times.  The council develops words in Alutiiq and deliberates over old words, to rejuvenate terms that are no longer commonly used.  Supported by the National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages program. For more information please contact Language Program Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 907-486-7004.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0652146.  Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Making New Words

How does the council make Alutiiq words?  Some of the new words are calques, or loan translations in linguistic terms. This means that the English word is translated literally. Through this method, the City of Anchorage became Kicarwik – literally place to anchor.  Another favored method of word formation is by translating the function or characteristics of the English word. Computer – umiartusqaq (thing that always thinks) and email - cukasqaq kaliqaq (fast paper) are some examples.  Other words are remembered from past use.  These are terms that have fallen out of use, but were once commonly spoken.  One of these words is usuq’arluni, which means to “get worn out.”  This term is usually used with clothing, but it can also be used for people!

New Words Examples

Click HERE to download the master list

tram / ski lift (thing for climbing)
moving sidewalk
(place where you don’t have to walk)
akiilngum kaaRtaa
credit card (debtor’s card)
kuufialista / kaufialista / kuugialista
(different dialects)
barista (one who makes coffee)
ketchup (kind of like tomato sauce)
television (place for looking)

Free Downloads

Niugneliyukut (We Are Making New Words): A Community Philosophy of Language Revitalization, Doctoral dissertation by April Laktonen Counceller (2010).

Indigenous New Words Creation - Perspectives from Alaska and Hawai'i
, by Larry Kimura, Hawaiian Lexicon Committee, and Isiik April G.L. Laktonen Counceller (2009).  In Indigenous Language Revitalization - Encouragement, Guidance & Lessons Learned, edited by J. Reyhner and L. Lockard, Northern Arizona University College of Education, Flagstaff.