Structure dataset 76: Eskimo Pidgin

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 76.

Eskimo Pidgin refers to a range of pidgins based on Eskimo languages all over the east Siberian and north American Arctic. These pidgin languages emerged from contacts between the Inuit and Western sailors that visited the Arctic during the whaling era from the early 17th century in the northern Atlantic to the 20th century in the northern Pacific and Arctic Oceans. In principle, the different Eskimo Pidgins emerged independently from one another in different places, but there are many structural and lexical correspondences between them due to similar circumstances of emergence and use. Most Eskimo Pidgins were documented very fragmentarily by interested laymen and occasional travellers and apparently none of them are spoken today. The lect chosen for the APiCS (default lect) is the Herschel Island Trade Jargon. With Stefánsson´s contemporary (1909) description, it is the best documented Eskimo Pidgin known so far. The characteristic features of the Herschel Island Trade Jargon can also be observed in scraps of documentation of Eskimo Pidgins from different times and regions.

No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k g q
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative v h
Approximant l
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative ɬ
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source