Archive for the ‘Eyak (eya)’ Category

Alaska Languages – Continuing Award for Collaboration

17 March 2008

Last September, the NSF awarded the University of Alaska Fairbanks just over US$450,000, with Michael Krauss as principal investigator, to study 11 endangered languages in Alaska.

The languages to be studied (with Wikipedia and Ethnologue links) are: Han Athabascan (haa), Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan (kuu), Eyak (eya), Tlingit (tli), Southern Tsimshian (tsi), North Slope Inupiaq (esi), Central Alaskan Yup’ik (esu), Central Siberian Yupik (ess), Alutiiq (ems), Attuan Aleut (ale) and Kodiak Russian Creole, a language of approximately five speakers whose average age is 90 and apparently without a page on either Wikipedia or Ethnologue.

Krauss is joined by a host of prominent language researchers. Their names as well as other details of the award are detailed at “IPY – Documenting Alaskan and Neighboring Languages” as well as Veco Polar (second listing).

This blog entry was prompted by a Tundra Drums article and an EurekAlert article. The amount listed in those articles $1.2 million, and the Talking Alaska blog lists it at $1.4 million. The grant is a continuing grant, so the disparity in numbers probably reflects the way the calculation was made. (The NSF site lists three awards, totaling $1.06 million.)

To keep up with Alaskan and other endangered language issues, subscribe to  Gary Holton’s Talking Alaska blog. An article on Michael Krauss is available on Wikipedia.

Eyak Falls Silent

7 March 2008

With the passing of Chief Marie Smith Jones on January 21, Eyak (eya) lost its last native speaker. Spoken in south-central Alaska, Eyak is its own branch of the Athabascan-Eyak language family, comprising about 20 Native languages in Alaska. She had worked extensively with Michael Krauss, a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and founder/long-time director of the Alaska Native Language Center.

More about the family tree of Eyak can be found at Alaska Native Languages, which provides detailed information about Alaska language relationships. Eyak stories and recordings are available through the ANLC. Documentation including a glossary in extensive PDF files can be downloaded from Alaska Native Languages — Eyak.

News of Chief Jones’s passing was carried in BBC News, Alaska Public Radio Network, and WTOP News, among others, which provided much of the information for this blog entry.

Note about Krauss’s Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska map: In Talking Alaska, Gary Holton details how the Alaska language map (also found at Wikipedia) needs to be revised due to pejorative names and geographical problems.