Friday, February 1, 2008

Revising the Alaska Native Language Map

The most authoritative map of Alaska's Native languages is Michael Krauss' Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska, published in 1974 (revised 1982). This map delineates 20 different indigenous languages belonging to two main language families: Athabascan-Eyak-Tlingit and Eskimo-Aleut. Haida is a language isolate (not demonstrably related to any other languages), and Tsimshian is a member of the small Tsimshianic family.

The language boundaries were determined based on an exhaustive survey of language pronunciation by speakers from each Alaska Native village. In many cases distinguishing between languages can be difficult, as the linguistic criteria yield conflicting and overlapping results. The chosen boundaries represent a compromise based on established tradition and Krauss' linguistic intuition.

This blog is a forum to discuss proposed revisions to the Map and to help accumulate information about the history of the Map and the history of Native languages in Alaska.

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