Datapoint Eskimo Pidgin/i - high front unrounded vowel

This phoneme is represented by Stefánsson (1909) as <i>, <ī> and <ĭ>. It is unclear whether phonetic length has phonemic status. In Eskimo proper, phoneme length and stress are unrelated, and the notation of length in the pidgin sources seems independent from stress notation. However, Stefánsson's (1909) indication of length by a line above vowels, as in īla 'he, she, it', is not consistent, neither in his notation of pidgin forms nor in the Eskimo forms in his etymological explanations. The same can be said about consonant length, which is indicated by consonant doubling. Probably, the notation of length in the pidgin refers to quality rather than quantity, e.g. a 'long' [i] vs. a 'short' [ɪ]. Since the Eskimo pidgins are extinct, it is difficult to verify whether such quality differences correspond to phonemic distinctions. In Eskimo proper they do not, whereas length does. It is likely that Inuit distinguished length in their pronunciation of pidgin words of Eskimo origin. It is more difficult to say something about the pronunciation by the non-Inuit outsiders, who formed a very heterogeneous group, with regard to linguistic background. In the questionnaire examples I have maintained the original transcription from the sources. In the IPA chart I have chosen to ignore much of the variation encountered in the sources, hence no distinctive length or open-close distinctions are assumed to exist.


Exists (as a major allophone)

Example 76-100: