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family of Native American languages consisting of Aleut (spoken on the Aleutian Islands and the Kodiak Peninsula) and Eskimo or Inuktitut (spoken in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia). Aleut is the language of a few thousand people, and Eskimo is native to over 100,000 people. There are a few varieties of the Eskimo language. Eskimo and Aleut have enough similarities to justify the theory that they are descendants of a single ancestor language. A striking and important feature of both tongues is polysynthesism (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). In a polysynthetic language, a one-word unit composed of a number of word elements can convey the meaning of an entire sentence of an Indo-European language. Eskimo and Aleut make great use of suffixes, but almost never of prefixes. Internal vowel changes are rare. Both languages are highly inflected. The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs is clearly shown. Three numbers are found—singular, dual, and plural. Phonetically, there are three main vowels in Eskimo, and from 13 to 20 consonants, the number varying according to the dialect. In earlier times the Eskimos had only pictographic writing. Since the 18th cent., however, the Eskimos of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska have used an adaptation of the Roman alphabet, introduced by missionaries. The Eskimos of modern Siberia and the Aleut-speaking groups employ the Cyrillic alphabet.


See K. Bergslund, A Grammatical Outline of the Eskimo Language of West Greenland (1955) and Aleut Dialects of Atha and Attu (1959); L. L. Hammerich, The Eskimo Language (1970); M. E. Krauss, Alaskan Native Languages (1980).

References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, Eskimo-Aleut speakers migrated back to Asia, bringing Native American genes.
We are fortunate to have a fine resource for investigating issues of language change in the Eskimo-Aleut family, the Comparative Eskimo Dictionary with Aleut Cognates by Fortescue, Jacobson, and Kaplan (2010).
Eskimo-Aleut languages show numerous traces of the fusion of an original root and following suffix to what are now interpreted as single roots.
In Siberia and North America, Yeniseian [YEN], Yukaghir [YUK], Chukotka-Kamchatkan [CHU], and Eskimo-Aleut [ESK] are included, referred to as the Paleo-Siberian [PS] languages.
A regiao resume a porcao costeira das classicamente definidas areas culturais Eskimo-Aleut, Athapaskan e indios da Costa Noroeste.
The Arctic Small Tool tradition (ASTt), generally viewed as the basis for the development of Eskimo-Aleut cultures and languages, expanded into the Bering Sea region from Siberia about 4500 B.
The Na-Dene group consists exclusively in groups speaking Athapaskan-related languages, while Eskimo-Aleut presumably includes all groups speaking languages that are family.
In spite of much speculation, the derivation of most Indian languages remains in doubt, although it is now thought that the Eskimo-Aleut family belongs to the Uralic group along with Finno-Ugric.
The second and third migration apparently only influenced the certain populations in the Arctic, including Eskimo-Aleuts and the Chipewyan.