Eskimo–Aleut languages

The Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​form a small language family, whose idioms of about 105,000 people in north-eastern Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland are spoken. To the Eskimo languages ​​include Inuktitut, which is widespread in northern Alaska, Canada and Greenland, and the Yupik languages ​​of Alaska and Siberia in the west. The Aleut branch consists of the single Aleut language. The Inuktitut and the Yupik languages ​​each form a dialect continuum.

The Inuit, for all Eskimo peoples and Eskimo languages ​​today often used is incorrect, since in this case the Yupik peoples are not considered. In addition, the previously held for derogatory name - it comes from the Algonquian languages ​​- in fact neutral: it does not mean - as assumed earlier - raw fish eaters but rather snowshoe weavers ( Campbell 1997:394 ).

  • 4.1 To Ergativkonstruktion
  • 4.2 For the genitive binding


According to the current literature (eg Campbell 1997, Mithun 1999, Holst 2005) may be the six Eskimo languages ​​and the Aleutian classified as follows:

  • Eskimo - Aleut Eskimo Inuit or Inupiaq - Inuktitut Inuktitut ( Inuktitut Inupiaq ) ( 86,000 ) Dialect groups: Imaklik ( Siberia), Inupiaq or Inupiatun ( northern Alaska, 10,000 ), Siglitun or Inuktun ( Western Canada, 4000 ), Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut (eastern Canada, 14,000 ), Greenlandic or Kalaallisut (Greenland, 58,000 )
  • Alaska Yupik Central Alaskan Yupik ( 17,000 ) Dialects: General Central Yupik including Yukon - Kuskokwim, Egegik, Hooper Bay - Chevak, Nunivak, Norton Sound
  • Pacific Golf Yupik ( Alutiiq, Suk, Sugpiaq ) ( 100) Dialects: Chugach, Koniag
  • Chaplino - Naukan Chaplino ( Central Siberian Yupik - ) ( 1,100) Dialects: Chaplinski, St Lawrence ISLD.
  • Naukan ( Naukanski ) (75)
  • Sirenik ( Sirenikski ) † extinct since 1997
  • Aleut ( Unangan ) (500, ethnically 2,000 ) Dialects: West = Attuan = Atkan, East = Unalaska

The numbers of speakers are from Ethnologue 2009 and Holst 2005 The relatedness of the Eskimo languages ​​with each other is about the Romance languages ​​comparable.; the Aleutian behaves to the Eskimo languages ​​about how a Baltic language to the Romance languages ​​(assessment by Holst 2005).

The representation in Ethnologue that the Inuit divided into five separate languages ​​- are then two even summarized from those macro languages ​​- is not shared in the literature.

External relations

Tschuktscho - Kamtschadalisch

A special genetic closeness of the Siberian tschuktscho - Kamchadal languages ​​and Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​of was adopted by a number of investigators, it was never really proven. This thesis has been revived in the wider context of the Eurasian macro family of Joseph Greenberg.

Eurasia table

According to Joseph Greenberg (2001 ) provide the Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​a component of its hypothetical Eurasian macro family dar.

According to Greenberg's America - theory (1987 ) represent the Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​, the Na - Dene languages ​​and all the rest of the indigenous American languages ​​( collectively referred Amerind ) the three genetically independent indigenous language families of America, which also separate waves of immigration from northeastern Siberia correspond.

Wakashan languages

According to recent theories (eg Holst 2005) Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​with which the Wakashan languages ​​are genetically related. Holst justified it by a list of 62 word equations and the derivation of some phonetic laws. This relationship exceeds the power drawn by Joseph Greenberg border between the Eskimo- Aleut and the Amerind languages ​​and would - if they can confirm this - a strong argument against Greenberg's basic classification of American languages ​​into three groups: Eskimo - Aleut, Na - Dene and Amerind.

Linguistic Features

The Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​have agglutinative morphology and are polysynthetic. The word and shape formation takes place by a series of suffixes. The basic word order is SOV ( subject - object - verb). The Eskimo languages ​​are ergativisch, the agent of a transitive verb is marked by the ergative, the agent of an intransitive verb and the undergoer (the " Property " ) of the transitive verb by the absolutive. (Since the ergative also takes over the function of the genitive, it is usually called relative in the grammars of the Eskimo languages. ) When Aleutian the question of ergativity has not been clearly established. The noun is preceded by his decisive supplements ( attributes ), but the genitive stands before his noun ( " the man's house "). There are ( no prepositions) uses postpositions. Because of the polysynthetic structure to distinguish the categories word and sentence is problematic.

Eskimo- Aleut languages ​​have the - in contrast to the neighboring languages ​​of northern Asia - no vowel harmony. The genus category does not exist, there are no items used. The first person plural is no different - like the majority of neighboring Native American languages ​​- between inclusive and exclusive forms ( depending on whether the called party is involved or not). The adjective part of speech does not exist, it is replaced by participles of state verbs.

Some examples from the Greenland Inuit

To Ergativkonstruktion

  • Anut sinip -pu- q " the man is sleeping " ( anut " man " is absolutive, the verb intransitive )
  • Anna -q sinip -pu- q " the woman is sleeping " ( anna -q "woman" is absolutive )
  • Aŋuc -ip anna -q taku -va -a " the man sees the woman " ( aŋuc -ip is ergative, absolutive anna -q as the object of the transitive verb )
  • Anna -p anut taku -va -a " the woman sees the man '

In the plural, there is no distinction between the forms of Absolutivs and Ergativs:

  • Aŋuc -it sinip -pu- t " the men sleep "
  • Anna- t sinip -pu- t " the women sleep "
  • Aŋuc -it - anna t taku -va -at " the men see women "
  • Anna- t aŋuc -it taku -va -at " the women see the men "

For the genitive binding

The forms of the genitive Ergativs and fall together in Greenland, which is why we call this case summary relative. The genitive relation is marked twice: once by the use of the prefix Relativs ( genitive ), additionally by a possessive suffix on possession. ( Comparable is the colloquial German education " the man his house ", except that the dative is used for the owner. )

  • Aŋuc -ip illuv -a " the man's house " ( aŋuc -ip is preceded by a relative of "man " -a possessive suffix of the third person, illu house -v- epenthesis to avoid hiatuses )
  • Anna -p illuv -a " the woman's house "