Alaska May 03, 2018
11 Town Names In Alaska That Are Downright Tongue Twisters
Alaska has a lot of places with names that outsiders have a hard time deciphering. From the various Alaska native languages to the random names pioneers gave to towns, we have a lot of crazy town names that are serious tongue twisters. But after you read this article, you will sound like a local when you travel through Alaska. Practice these tongue twister town names and you will be ready for adventures this summer in Alaska.
1. Afognak (əˈfɒɡnæk) Pronounced ah-FOG-nack
This staggeringly beautiful island is foggy, but that has nothing to do with the Alutiiq name, an Alaska native language spoken in the region. The Afognak State Park is here and it is so beautiful, it's hard to leave.
2. Tok (toʊk) Pronounced TOE-ck
On the plains between the Alaska Range and the Tanana River, this town name is derived from the Athabaskan word meaning "peaceful river." There have been Athabaskan Village sites in the area for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
3. Anuktuvuk (ɐnɑqtuːvɐk) Pronounced ahn-uk-TOO-vick
Anaktuvuk is the English way of spelling annaqtugvik which means "the place of caribou droppings" in Inupiaq. This arctic place is far up in the north, just above the Brooks Range.
4. Shishmaref (ʃɪʃmərɛf) Pronounced SHISH-mah-raff
This tongue twister was reportedly named by Lt. Otto Von Kotzebue given on an exploratory trip in 1816 after a crew member.
5. Napakiak (Na-pah-ki-ahk) Pronounced na-PAH-kee-ahk
Yupik people have lived in Napakiak since around 1000 A.D., and the name is from the Yupik language. There is also another village nearby called Napaskiak. so be sure to keep them straight.
6. Skwentna (Sk-went-nah) Pronounced SHWEE-tna
This tiny spot in the Matanuska Valley has a population of 37 people. According to the Alaska Fish & Wildlife News, "Skwentna" is from the Shqitnu language meaning something akin to "Sloping Ridge River."
7. Kwigillingok (qui-gill-ing-gok) Pronounced KWEE-gill-in-gock
This tongue-twisting place is in the Bethel area and is a village of about 300 people. From Kuigilnguq, the local word meaning "No River".
8. Chickaloon (Chick-a-loon) Pronounced CHICK-ah-loon
The village was reportedly named for the Chickaloon River, after Chief Chiklu. The Alaska Native people of Chickaloon are a mixture of Ahtna and Dena'ina Athabaskan and the locals refer to the place as Nay’dini’aa Na, another tongue twister.
9. Nenana (nɛˈnænə) Pronounced nee-NAE-naw
This one is often mispronounced, but the "nana" is the same as in "banana," with a long "nee" at the beginning. The river and the town lie in the interior, north of Denali National Park and south of Fairbanks.
10. Tanana (tænənɑ) Pronounced TAN-nah-naw
The village, the people of the area, and their language are all called Tanana, which does not rhyme with "Nenana." Tanana is located at the confluence of the Tanana River and the Yukon River.
11. Unalakleet (juːnələkliːt) Pronounced EW-nə-lə-kleet
The name of this village is an adaptation of the Iñupiaq word "Una-la-thliq," which means "from the southern side." This tiny town on the edge of the Bering Sea is a wild place where the people subsist on the wild food form the Bering Sea and the caribou that graze through Western Alaska.
Learn more information about Alaska Native place names
If you love to laugh, check out these
30 Hilariously Accurate Memes About Alaska. You may also want to know 21 Things Everyone Who’s Moved Away From Alaska Has Thought At Least Once.
How many of these towns have you been to?