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Language in Petersburg, Alaska

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When Therese moved from New England to Petersburg, Alaska, she heard a rich mixture of language that arose from the Tlingit people who live there part of the year, the Norwegians who immigrated there, and a thriving fishing industry. So you might hear residents borrowing the fishing term to be corked, that is “to be interfered with,” or referring to the Norwegian Christmastime practice of going julebukking, or wandering business to business, enjoying Norwegian food and perhaps an adult beverage along the way. Speech arising from such a mixture of languages is called contact language. Trade language arises when parts of languages combine specifically for use in trade. A pidgin develops as the result of two or more languages combining grammatical and lexical features that develops into something still more sophisticated, with syntactical rules and vocabulary that are passed on from parents to children, sometimes over many generations. This is part of a complete episode.

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