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Dialects and Styles of Alutiiq

Dialects are differences in a language that are notable but not significant enough to be deemed separate languages. The language spoken by Alutiiq people has two major dialects: Chugach Dialect and Koniag Dialect. Koniag Alutiiq is spoken in on the Alaska Peninsula and the Kodiak Archipelago. Chugach Alutiiq is spoken on the Kenai Peninsula eastward to Prince William Sound.

Map of the Alutiiq Homeland.

Within these dialects there are sub-dialectical differences. The Koniag dialect, for example, can be broken into Alaska Peninsula Alutiiq and Kodiak Island Alutiiq. Within subdialects there are even further distinctions. On Kodiak, speakers identify a Northern style, traditionally spoken in the villages of Karluk, Larsen Bay, Afognak, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, and Kodiak. The Southern style is traditionally spoken in Akhiok, Kaguyak, and Old Harbor. There are even differences within these sub-dialects. Elders can often determine a speaker's village of origin based on their choice of words or way of talking.

The differences between villages and sub-dialects are not major from a linguistic standpoint, but are of central importance to Alutiiq people, as speakers' identities are tied to village and family connections. For this reason, all language revitalization efforts and materials development must take variation into account. When sub-dialectical variations occur in language materials, organizations in Kodiak involved with producing Alutiiq materials have a standing policy of listing the Northern style first, followed by the Southern style (if the difference is style based). This practice offers respect to the more threatened Northern Kodiak style, and provides a standard way of listing variants that learners can predict.