November 5, 2002
1:31 PM   Subscribe

Maybe you're travelling to Nunavut, maybe you've just seen Atanarjuat, but for whatever reason, you're keen to learn some Inuktitut. Where to begin? Take a course if one is available in your area. Listen to some words and phrases. But unless you're heading to a region (PDF map) where the Inuinnaqtun dialect is spoken (it uses the Roman alphabet), you're going to need to use Inuktitut's syllabics. Download some fonts (another source, and another) -- you'll need them for many sites, including this Inuktitut language reader. Or try out this handy converter. Finally, the Living Dictionary is the definitive reference to this language.
posted by mcwetboy (9 comments total)
That was amazing. Thank you.
posted by whatzit at 1:40 PM on November 5, 2002

Language posts are always appreciated. Now, I just have to figure out how to say "I can eat glass; It doesn't hurt me."
posted by oissubke at 1:44 PM on November 5, 2002

do no forget nuuk posse :D

posted by kliuless at 1:58 PM on November 5, 2002

Now that's my kind of front page post—Qujannamiik!
posted by languagehat at 2:12 PM on November 5, 2002

Very cool links mcwetboy, thanks! Or I should say qujannamiik!

I am afraid to turn on the news tonight to learn election results. For all the U.S. denizens who are disappointed in the results, start studying Inuktitut and check out the Nunavut job page.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:01 PM on November 5, 2002

Make sure you also listen to Nunavut by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:50 PM on November 5, 2002

Those of us in Canada with cable TV can watch the APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network)...some weird stuff on there.
Cool stuff.
posted by Fabulon7 at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2002

Was this the hijacked next stop on oissubke's world tour?
posted by hama7 at 5:32 AM on November 6, 2002

Roman Orthography is syllabics, just in symbol form. Inuktitut is a funny language, where you translate from English to Inuktitut, which is either written in Roman Orthography or syllabics, they're both the same. The Inuktitut syllabics writing system, standardized by the Inuit Cultural Institute, has only 3 vowels (a, i, u) and 14 consonants, creating 42 symbols (made of a consonant and a vowel) and 14 singular consonants.

The majority of Inuit in Canada use syllabics (except in parts of the Western and Central Arctic and all of Labrador). Inuit in Alaska, Russia and Greenland don't use syllabics, but an alphabet modified from Roman Orthography. There is some debate about which is better, Roman Orthography or syllabics, however syllabic users are very dedicated to using only syllabics. Some Inuktitut words are very long and using syllabics is efficient as it roughly cuts the number of characters in half (e.g., the word "Nunavut" is 7 characters in Roman Orthography, however, in syllabics it would be 4 characters).

The Inuktitut writing system is completely phonetic, whether you are writing in Roman Orthography or syllabics. As the Inuit communities in Canada are so dispersed and isolated, different areas of the north have developed their own dialects, straying away from the syllabics writing standard. These dialects are not properly phonetic which makes it harder to read material produced from those areas, unless you are familiar with that particular dialect.
posted by KathyK at 6:33 AM on November 6, 2002

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