This semester I’m taking ESK 111 “Elementary Iñupiaq” from the Chukchi campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. So far it’s been a very fun but challenging class. Even though I’m fascinated by the grammar of Iñupiaq, that doesn’t mean I’m any good at speaking it. In fact, I’m horrible at it! I want to learn to speak it better, so that’s why I’m taking this distance ed class.
The instructor is Ruth Tatqaviñ Sampson, and she’s so patient with everyone. The class members range from complete beginners to people with passive Iñupiaq skills to fluent speakers, but she manages to make it work for all of us. Also, the class is tailored to fit speakers of many different dialects, which I find very cool. Most language classes I’ve taken in my life have been very particular about teaching only one ‘standard’ dialect, but here there’s room for variation. For example, the main textbook is in one dialect (North Slope), the dictionary is in another (Kobuk), and there are other materials in various other dialects, too. Who needs standardization, anyway? It certainly isn’t necessary for people to learn.
Oh, and I’ve been named Piquk now, so perhaps Tulugaq no longer applies?