Central Alaskan Yup'ik (also called Yupik, Yup'ik, or Central Yup'ik) is a Yupik language of the Eskimo-Aleut language group spoken in western and southwestern Alaska. Both in ethnic population and in number of speakers, Central Alaskan Yup'ik is the largest of the languages spoken by Alaska Natives. Central Alaskan Yup'ik lies geographically and linguistically between Alutiiq and Siberian Yupik. The use of the apostrophe in Central Alaskan Yup'ik, as opposed to Siberian Yupik, denotes a long p. The word Yup'ik represents not only the language but also the name for the people themselves (yuk 'person' plus pik 'real'.) Of a total population of about 21,000 people, about 10,000 are speakers of the language. Children still grow up speaking Yup'ik as their first language in 17 of 68 Yup'ik villages, those mainly located on the lower Kuskokwim River, on Nelson Island, and along the coast between the Kuskokwim River and Nelson Island. The main dialect is General Central Yup'ik, and the other four dialects are Norton Sound, Hooper Bay-Chevak, Nunivak, and Egegik. In the Hooper Bay-Chevak and Nunivak dialects, the name for the language and the people is "Cup'ik" (pronounced Chup-pik). Early linguistic work in Central Yup'ik was done primarily by Russian Orthodox, then Jesuit Catholic and Moravian missionaries, leading to a modest tradition of literacy used in letter writing. In the 1960s, Irene Reed and others at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks developed a modern writing system for the language, and their work led to the establishment of the state's first school bilingual programs in four Yup'ik villages in the early 1970s. Since then a wide variety of bilingual materials has been published, as well as Steven Jacobson's comprehensive dictionary of the language and his complete practical classroom grammar, and story collections and narratives by many others including a full novel by Anna Jacobson.
|nasal||m /m/, ḿ /m̥/||n /n/, ń /n̥/||ng /ŋ/, ńg /ŋ̊/|
|plosive||p /p/||t /t/||c /tʃ/||k /k/||q /q/|
|fricative||vv /f/, v /v/||ss /s/, s /z/||ll /ɬ/, l /l/*||y /j/*|| gg /x/, g /ɣ/|
w /xʷ/, ug /ɣʷ/
| rr /χ/, r /ʁ/|
urr /χʷ/, ur /ʁʷ/
* L and y are not phonetically fricatives, but l behaves as one phonologically, while y in a fricative in other Eskimoan languages.
Fricatives (and l) devoice immediately before or after a plosive.
Geminate consonants are written with an apostrophe, as in the name Yup’ik.
There are three vowels, a i u, which also occur long, aa ii uu, plus a schwa /ə/ spelled e. The vowels i u lower to before a uvular consonant such as q or r or the back vowel a.