January 21, 2011

Inupiaq version of Rosetta Stone

Natives team with software maker in language project

By Kyle HopkinsThe North Slope Borough and Rosetta Stone software company plan to unveil a program this spring specially designed to teach the North Slope Inupiaq dialect, using the photos and voices of Inupiaq people recorded in Barrow.

There are as few as 1,500 fluent speakers of Inupiaq in Alaska, estimates Fairbanks linguist Michael Krauss. Once, it was the primary language of the northern and northwest regions of the state.

Barrow-born Edna MacLean, a former Inupiaq professor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, spent two years working on the Inupiaq program. She translated thousands of words and phrases from English to the North Slope Inupiaq dialect of the Inuit language.

The job is nearly done. Soon the program will be available to schools and households. Just in time for Inupiaq language experts like MacLean, 66.

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