Cugtun (Chevak)

Chevak Cup’ik language

Chevak Cup’ik language
Spoken in United States
Region Central Alaska (Chevak)
Total speakers
Language family Eskimo-Aleut
Writing system Latin alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3

Chevak Cup’ik or just Cup’ik (own name Cugtun), Hooper Bay-Chevak Cup’ik language is a language or dialect of Central Alaskan Yup'ik spoken in Central Alaska in the Chevak (own name Cev’aq) and Hooper Bay by (own name Cup’it or Cev’allrarmuit). Actually, Cup’ik spoken in Chevak is closer to General Central Yup’ik than it is to Nunivak Cup’ig, therefore they should not be equated. The Cup'ik dialect is threatened. The Yup'ik letter c is pronounced as an English ch.

The Central Alaskan Yupik who in the village of Chevak call themselves Cup'ik (plural Cup'it). Those who live on Nunivak Island (Nuniwar in Nunivak Cup'ig, Nunivaaq in Central Yup'ik) call themselves Cup'ig (plural Cup'it). The name Cup'ig (with g) used for Nunivak Island Yup'ik dialect. But, the name Cup'ik (with k) used for Hooper Bay-Chevak Yup'ik dialect.


The Cup’ik dialect is distinguished from Yup’ik by the change of "y" sounds into "ch" sounds, represented by the letter "c", and by some words that are completely different from Yup'ik words.

This unique identity has allowed them to form a single-site school district, the Kashunamiut School District, rather than joining a neighboring Yup’ik school district. English and Cup’ik bilingual education is done at this school. There is a tri-language system in Chevak; English, Cup’ik, and a mixture of the two languages.

Before 1950 formal education for students in Chevak took place in the Qaygiq (semi-underground men's community house; Qasgi or Qasgiq in Central Alaskan Yup'ik; Kiiyar in Nunivak Cup’ig; Qargi in Iñupiaq), and in the homes of the people.


Vocabulary comparison

The comparison of some words in the two dialects.

Yukon-Kuskokwim Yup’ikChevak Cup’ikmeaning
elicaraq (Y) / elitnauraq (K)elicaraq
skuularaq (Cup’ik English mixed language)
elicarista (Y) / elitnaurista (K)elicarta
skuularta (Cup’ik English mixed language)
yuilquqcuilquqthe wilderness; tundra
nuussiqcaviggaqknife (not semi-lunar)
uluaqkegginaleksemi-lunar woman's knife
canekeveka blade or stalk of grass


There are 18 letters used in the Cup’ik alphabet: a c e g i k l m n p q r s t u v w y.

These letters are not used in the Cup’ik alphabet: b d f h j o x z.



Russian loanwords

The Russian loanwords used in Chevak Cup’ik date from the period of the Russian America (1733–1867).

The names of days and months

See also


  1. Qaygiq (Men’s House) by Dr. John Pingayak
  2. Qasgimi : In the Qasgi
  3. Alaskool: Guidebook for Integrating Cup'ik Culture and Curriculum
  4. http://www.alaskool.org/projects/chevak/chevak/sound1.htm

External links

Retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevak_Cup%E2%80%99ik_language