Eskimo-Aleut Languages

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Eskimo-Aleut Languages


a group of languages that includes Eskimo and Aleut.

The Eskimo-Aleut languages are conventionally classified among the Paleo-Asiatic languages; the features they exhibit in common with these languages probably were acquired through an interaction that lasted many centuries. Because of their geographical isolation from one another, the Eskimo-Aleut languages do not share a sizable common lexicon, although they are typologically quite similar.

The phonology of the Eskimo-Aleut languages is characterized by relative uniformity of the vowel and consonant systems, as evidenced in a common set of velars—[k], [ɤ], and [x]—and uvulars—[q], [κ], and [ϰ] Other common phonetic features are voiced and voiceless [1] and [ł] and the dental and velar nasals [n] and [ŋ]. There is considerable similarity in syllable and word structure: clusters of two (more rarely, three) consonants are found only in the middle of a word; the only consonants appearing at the end of a word are [q], [k], and [n] in Eskimo and the corresponding consonants [ϰ], [x], and [n] in Aleut and other languages.

The Eskimo-Aleut languages are agglutinative synthetic languages. New words and word forms are created only through suffixation, and word structure is characterized by distinct morpheme boundaries. Possessive personal forms of the noun and pronoun, adjective and numeral, and subject-object forms of the verb share common meanings and, in part, formations. Syntax is characterized by two main types of simple sentences. In the nominative type the subject is in the absolute case, and the predicate is an intransitive verb or a transitive verb that takes an indirect object. In the possessive (ergative) type the predicate is a transitive verb that takes a direct object.


Menovshchikov, G. A. “Eskimossko-aleutskaia grappa.” In Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 5. Leningrad, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
The language is one of four Yup'ik Eskimo languages that help make up the Eskimo portion of the Eskimo-Aleut family of languages, and is spoken in southwestern Alaska in the Yukon-Kyskokwim Delta, Bristol Bay area, and nearby regions.
This has led to a long-running debate among archaeologists about the contribution made by Old Bering Sea culture to the later emergence of Thule culture, which does appear to be the ancestral culture of most, if not all, modern-day speakers of Eskimo languages.
Although this has been overstated--actually, Eskimo languages don't have all that many root words for different kinds of snow, but form specialized words by building on root words--it is still true that people in northern climates speak of (and thus also see and consider) their ice- and snowbound environments with a keen precision.