Greenlandic language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

GreenlandGreenland Greenland Denmark
speaker about 57,000
Official status
Official language in GreenlandGreenland Greenland Nordic Council
North symbol.svg
Other official status in DenmarkDenmark Denmark
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Greenlandic (also Kalaallisut [ kaˈlaːɬːisut ]) is the only official language in Greenland , an autonomous part of Denmark . In both countries together, the language is spoken by around 57,000 people.

Greenlandic belongs to the Inuit languages and is the easternmost and also the most spoken language of the Eskimo-Aleut language family that extends to Siberia in the west . Within these, Greenlandic differs from the other Eskimo-Aleut languages ​​in the presence of assimilation . Like all languages ​​of this language family, it is characterized by its strongly polysynthetic structure, which enables very long words up to one-word sentences. Greenlandic has eight dialects, some of them very different, which are divided into three main dialects. The standard language of Greenlandic is based on the dialect spoken in the capital Nuuk .

Teaching and researching the Greenlandic language is part of Eskimology .

To distinguish it from the Greenland Language is the Grönlandnordisch the Grænlendingar , a suspected North Germanic language.

Language names

The Greenlandic language is known by numerous names. What is meant is exactly the language that is spoken in Greenland. Inuktitut is often used as a generic term for the Inuit languages, although this term actually only applies to the language spoken in Canada . The term Greenlandic Eskimo also exists for the subdivision of Eskimo languages ​​spoken from Siberia to Greenland . Inuit is also mistakenly spoken of as a language; however, this is only the general name for the Eskimo ethnic groups of North America.

The Greenlandic word Kalaallisut literally means like a Greenlander , whereby it is assumed that the word Kalaaleq is a loan word from Greenland Norse and derives from skrælingar , the name of the Northmen for the natives of North America and thus also Greenland.

To distinguish it from the other dialects of Greenland, the main dialect is also called West Greenlandic or Kitaamiusut , literally like a West Greenlander .

Classification and distribution

Greenlandic is one of the Eskimo-Aleut languages and, within the Eskimo languages , is the easternmost of the Inuit languages ​​in North America. In addition, it is also the most widely spoken of the eleven Eskimo-Aleut languages ​​documented by Ethnologue , which are spoken by 100,000 to 140,000 people.

So far, attempts have been unsuccessful to establish a relationship between Greenlandic and Eskimo-Aleut with Indian languages in Canada and the United States , with Ainu , Paleosiberian languages , Turkic or Altai languages or even the Indo-European languages .

Typologically , Greenlandic, like its neighbors, belongs to the polysynthetic languages . The word order is subject-object-verb . It is also an ergative language .

In 2001 it was surveyed that around 70% of the residents of Greenland speak Greenlandic as their only mother tongue, while another 15% grew up bilingual Greenlandic- Danish . Greenlandic is still spoken by around 7000 Greenlanders who have emigrated to Denmark.


  • Inuktun
  • Upernavik dialect
  • Kangaatsiaq-Uummannaq dialect
  • Central West Greenlandic (Kalaallisut)
  • Paamiut dialect
  • Nanortalik-Narsaq-Qaqortoq dialect
  • Cape Farvel dialect
  • Tunumiisut
  • Greenlandic is usually divided into three main dialects. There is a standard variety that is used in everyday life and almost the only one used in writing. This Kalaallisut in the narrower sense is as Central West Greenlandic a sub-dialect of West Greenlandic (Kitaamiusut) and corresponds to the language spoken in the area of Sisimiut in the north and Nuuk in the south. The other subdialect of Kitaamiusut is Northwest Greenlandic, which in turn can be divided into two subdialects: The southern part is called the Kangaatsiaq-Uummannaq dialect and is spoken from Attu in the south to Nuugaatsiaq in the north. The northern part, the Upernavik dialect, includes the Upernavik district . South Greenlandic is usually also included in West Greenlandic , a dialect continuum with very different sub-dialects, some of which are more similar to the standard variety, but some are also much closer to East Greenlandic. The northernmost sub-dialect, the Paamiut dialect , is spoken from Qeqertarsuatsiaat in the north to Arsuk in the south. The largest sub-dialect, with one small exception, the Cape Farvel dialect , is spoken throughout Kujalleq municipality , which consists of the districts of Qaqortoq , Narsaq and Nanortalik , which is why it is called the Nanortalik-Narsaq-Qaqortoq dialect . All West Greenland dialects (including South Greenlandic) together have around 44,000 speakers. Experienced listeners should even be able to distinguish speakers according to their place of origin, which would require a much more precise subdivision into “village dialects”.

    The second largest main dialect is East Greenlandic (Tunumiisut) . It is very different from West Greenlandic, so that it is sometimes seen as a separate language. It is spoken by around 3000 people from Isertoq in the southwest to Ittoqqortoormiit in the northeast.

    The smallest main dialect is the Inuktun (Avanersuarmiusut), which is spoken by around 800 people in the Qaanaaq district . It is the most archaic because it is the only one that has no assimilation of consonants and vowels. This makes it most closely related to the Inuktitut in neighboring Canada .

    Greenlandic (Kalaallisut)
    Inuktun (North Greenlandic)
    Kitaamiusut (West Greenlandic)
    Tunumiisut (East Greenlandic)
    Northwest Greenlandic
    Central West Greenlandic (Standard)
    South Greenlandic
    Upernavik dialect
    Kangaatsiaq-Uummannaq dialect
    Paamiut dialect
    Nanortalik-Narsaq-Qaqortoq dialect
    Cape Farvel dialect

    The most important isogloss of the Greenlandic dialects is the one that distinguishes the u dialects from the i dialects. Standard Greenlandic is an underground dialect. In the i dialects, many / u / are replaced by / i /. The i dialects are East and South Greenlandic and the Upernavik dialect. The following table shows the most important distinguishing properties of the individual dialects.

    feature Inuktun Upernavik
    Central West
    Cape Farvel
    u dialect + - + + - - - -
    Vowel and consonant assimilation - + + + + + + +
    tsa / tsu dialect + - - + - - - +
    two s-qualities - - + + + - - -
    strong consonant changes compared to the standard - - - - - - + +
    Geminate abbreviation after long vowel - - - - - + + -

    Above all, the three main dialects are so different that a mutual understanding of Kitaamiut , Tunumiit and Inughuit without knowledge of the other languages ​​is only possible with difficulty or not at all, and if so, then only to the same degree as it also applies to the other Inuit languages.

    The non-Western dialects of Greenlandic do not play a role in writing and are only spoken. For example, there are no school books in North or East Greenlandic.


    Poul Egede

    The early history of Greenlandic with its development from the Inuit languages ​​and dialects is unknown. Since the language was not written down before the 18th century, there are no traditions of its own. The first records of the language come from Greenlandic women who were abducted on a Danish expedition ship in the 17th century.

    Nevertheless, some theories have been put forward about the language situation in Greenlandic prehistory and early history . It is assumed that the Paleoeskimos still spoke an Ureskimo aleutic. With the immigration of the Neoeskimos around the 13th century, previous cultures and thus their language disappeared. The new population group quickly settled all of Greenland, which at that time was still inhabited by the European Grænlendingar . One wave of the population moved from the northwest over the north coast along the east coast and the other along the west coast to the south. The two dialects East and West Greenlandic emerged from the separation of the two groups. Northeast of Cape Farvel , the two groups met again around 1400, so that the dialect border is there today. In the 17th and 18th centuries, another wave of immigration came from Canada, from which the Inughuit descended, which also gave rise to the North Greenlandic dialect.

    In 1721 the missionary work and colonization of Greenland began by the Norwegian pastor Hans Egede . It was very important to him to convert the Kalaallit to Christianity in their own language. He therefore learned Greenlandic himself, as did his sons, especially Poul Egede . Both translated texts from the Bible into Greenlandic, and Poul finally wrote the first dictionary in 1750 and a grammar in 1760. The language was used and was never endangered. Since the founding of Grønland's Seminarium in 1845, classes there have been in Greenlandic. In 1861 the Atuagagdliutit, a newspaper, appeared in Greenland for the first time, making Greenlandic reading material available to a broader segment of the population. In 1851 Samuel Kleinschmidt established the first official spelling. School lessons were also exclusively in Greenlandic, although the country had been a Danish colony since the Norwegian-Danish Union was dissolved in 1814 and many Danes frequented the country.

    No parking sign in Danish (above) and Greenlandic (below) in Sisimiut

    In 1953 Greenland was decolonized, but in return the country's danification increased. The Atuagagdliutit became bilingual and Danish instruction was introduced in schools. Since the Danish instruction was deliberately of higher quality than the Greenlandic one, Greenlanders began to send their children to Danish school classes. Since everyday public life was increasingly influenced by Danish, the knowledge of Danish in Greenlanders improved and many young people began to take up further training in Denmark. When she returned to Greenland, her knowledge of Greenlandic had often deteriorated dramatically.

    With the introduction of the Hjemmestyre in 1979, which made Greenland autonomous, the process began to be reversed. Greenlandic was once again declared the main language and promoted. Today, Greenlandic is the only official language in Greenland, Danish is the first and English is the second foreign language. The abolition of Danish lessons in Greenlandic schools is being discussed, while at the same time a large part of public life is still taking place in Danish.



    West Greenlandic vowels

    In Greenlandic there are three vowels / a /, / i / and / u /, which are written as ⟨a⟩, ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩. Before the uvulars / ʁ / and / q /, all three are converted into their allophonic variants / ɑ /, / ɜ / and / ɔ / (⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨o⟩). With one exception, there are no diphthongs , but hiats are common. The only diphthong / ai / appears only as a possessive suffix or as a transitive flexible.

    illu "house" + -qarpoq "haben.3SG" → ill o qarpoq "he has a house"
    ui “husband” + - qarpoq “have.3SG” → u e qarpoq “she has a husband”.


    The Greenlandic language has 18 consonant phonemes, which is 24 phonemes together with the vowels. There are no voiced plosives .

    The consonants of Greenlandic
    Labials Alveolar Palatal Velare Uvulars
    sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl.
    Plosives / ⁠ p ⁠ / / ⁠ t ⁠ / / ⁠ k ⁠ / / ⁠ q ⁠ /
    Fricatives / ⁠ v ⁠ / / ⁠ f ⁠ / / ⁠ s ⁠ / 1 / ⁠ ç ⁠ / / ⁠ ɣ ⁠ / / ⁠ ʁ ⁠ / / ⁠ χ ⁠ /
    Nasals / ⁠ m ⁠ / / ⁠ n ⁠ / / ⁠ ŋ ⁠ /
    Lateral / ⁠ l ⁠ / / ⁠ ɬ ⁠ /
    Approximants / ⁠ j ⁠ /
    1The / s / also exists in a more palatalized form, which, however, is not phonemic , i.e. meaning differentiating, and can also be omitted. These palatalized / s / are not recognizable in the spelling.

    Alphabet and pronunciation

    Greenlandic has 18 letters to represent hereditary words . 10 more letters are used to write Danish loanwords.

    Capitals A. (B) (C) (D) E. F. G (H) I. J K L. M. N O P Q R. S. T U V (X) (Y) (Z) (Æ) (O) (Å)
    Minuscule a (b) (c) (d) e f G (H) i j k l m n O p q r s t u v (x) (y) (z) (æ) (O) (å)

    The pronunciation of the letters can be reproduced very regularly as follows:

    Letter pronunciation
    individually double uvularized 1 uv. dop. 2
    A a [a] [aː] [ɑ] [ɑː]
    E e - - [ɜ] [ɜː]
    F f - 3 [fː] [fː] -
    G g [ɣ] [çː] - -
    I i [i] [iː] - -
    J j [j] - - -
    K k [k] [kː] - -
    L l [l] [ɬː] [ɬː] -
    M m [m] [mː] [mː] -
    N n [n] [nː] [nː] -
    Ng ng [ŋ] [ŋː] 4 [ŋː] -
    O o - - [ɔ] [ɔː]
    P p [p] [pː] [pː] -
    Q q [q] [qː] - -
    R r [ʁ] 5 [χː] - -
    S s [s] [sː] [sː] -
    T t [t] 6 [tː] [tː] -
    Ts ts - 7th [t͡sː] - [t͡sː]
    U u [u] [uː] - -
    V v [v] - 3 - 3 -
    1With vowels, “uvularized” means that the vowel precedes ⟨q⟩ or ⟨r⟩. In the case of consonants, this means the position behind an ⟨r⟩.
    2Consonants cannot appear twice after an ⟨r⟩, as they are already lengthened by the ⟨r⟩ .
    3 The gemination or uvularization makes ⟨f⟩ out of ⟨v⟩.
    4th ⟨Ng⟩ is doubled with ⟨nng⟩.
    5⟨R⟩ can only be pronounced intervowel. Before a consonant, it only serves as a uvularizer and is not pronounced.
    6th⟨T⟩ is before ⟨e⟩ and ⟨i⟩ affrikativ by ([T]). The doubling of ⟨t⟩ before ⟨e⟩ or ⟨i⟩ causes ⟨tse⟩ and ⟨tsi⟩. At the end of the word, ⟨t⟩ sounds more like [tˢʰ].
    7th ⟨Ts⟩ is considered a double consonant.

    When two consonants meet in Greenlandic, they are assimilated ( assimilated ). This is different from the Canadian Inuktitut . The Inuktitut word iglu (house) appears in Greenlandic as illu , and Inuktitut itself is translated into Greenlandic as Inuttut (both from inuk , “human”). Only in the Inuktun of the Inughuit there is no assimilation. Assimilation does not only occur with consonants. When a vowel follows a a⟩, it becomes the ⟨a⟩ itself.

    arnaq "woman" + -uvoq "sein.3SG" → arna a voq "she is a woman"


    Parts of speech

    The Greenlandic language has nouns , verbs and also some adverbs , pronouns and the like. Ä. That are summarized as particles . Adjectives can only occur predicatively in the form of verbs of attributes or attributive in the form of nominalized verbs of attributes. Prepositions are completely replaced by case flexion and local adverbs . Articles do not exist either and are - if at all - represented in their function morphosyntactically (see section “sentence structure” ).


    Case inflection

    As an ergative language , Greenlandic has neither a nominative nor a dative or accusative . The role of these cases is assumed by the absolute and the ergative . The ergative also functions as a genitive . There are also six cases, the functions of which are taken over by prepositions in German. For the role of the ergative in Greenlandic see section #Satzbau .

    Greenlandic still has two numbers today . As usual in Eskimo-Aleut languages ​​such as Inuktitut, there used to be a dual in addition to the singular and plural , which died out in the first half of the 19th century and was replaced by the plural. In Otto Fabricius' grammar from 1791, the dual is therefore still described, while Samuel Kleinschmidt no longer mentions it in his grammar, which appeared in 1851. Genera are unknown to Greenlandic.

    The Greenland nouns can be divided into three declension classes. Although all nouns end in -q, -t, -k or a vowel, it is not possible to say for sure which class a noun belongs to. The majority of Greenlandic nouns belong to the first class. It can be more or less inflected regularly, but it can, especially when equative be differences because -does may be denominated -sut. Stems two and three are irregular and involve stem changes. So the ergative of ateq is “name” aqqup and that of qajaq is qaannap . Therefore only the declinations of the first class are mentioned below .

    case Singular Plural
    Vowel stem q trunk k trunk t-trunk Vowel stem q trunk k trunk t-trunk
    Absolutely -O -q -k -t -t -it
    Ergative and genitive -p -up -tip
    Instrumental ("with") -mic -mmik -nik -nnik -tinik
    Allative ("towards") -courage -mmut -nut -nnut -tinut
    Locative ("in, on, on") -mi -mmi -ni -nni -tini
    Ablative ("from her") -With - with -nit -nnit -tinit
    Vialis ("through, over") -kkut -tikkut -tig good -tsigut / - (i) ssigut -titigut
    Equative ("as") -do - good -titut -do - good -titut


    Possessive pronouns are identified by suffixes , as is the case in Turkish . The following table shows the absolute possessive endings for illu , "house":

    owner Singular Plural
    1st person Sg. illu ga "my house" illu kka "my houses"
    2nd person Sg. illu t "your house" illu tit "your houses"
    3rd person Sg. illu a "his / her (his / her) house" illu i "his / her (their) houses"
    4th pers. Sg. illu ni "his / her (own) house" illu ni "his / her (own) houses"
    1st person Pl. illo rput "our house" illu vut "our houses"
    2nd person Pl. illo rsi "your house" illu si "your houses"
    3rd person Pl. illu at "her house" illu i "their houses"
    4th pers. Pl. illo rtik "your own house" illu tik "their own houses"

    The owner is in the genitive. As in Turkish, the possessive ending must be added to the possessed:

    Anda p illu a "Anda's house"

    The following comparison explains the use of the 4th person :

    Andap illu ni takuaa “Anda sees his house” (his own, 4th person).
    Andap illu a takuaa “Anda sees his house” ( someone else's house, 3rd person).


    Besides nouns, verbs represent the second main class of parts of speech. Each verb consists either of a root verb or of a noun whose last derivative morpheme forms a verb. Each noun or verb can have an unlimited number of derivative morphemes, with the last morpheme deciding whether it is a noun or a verb. As with the declension of nouns, verbs must also be inflected. The end of the verb always contains a conjugation ending .

    The Greenlandic verbs can be divided into three conjugation classes. In the first group, the stem ends on a vowel, i.e. -a-, -i- or -u-. The second class ends with -p-, the third with -r-. Since there is no infinitive , the 3rd person is usually the basic form. Sg. Used. Examples for all three classes are therefore:

    Vowel stem: aperivoq "he asks"
    p-strain: sinippoq "it sleeps"
    r-stem: atuarpoq "she reads"

    In the conjugation system Greenlandic has three or four persons, two numbers and eight modes . Four of these are modes in the narrower sense, namely indicative , interrogative , imperative and optative , while the other four only take on syntactic functions, such as conditional , causative , contemporary and participatory . Tempora and genus verbi are expressed through derivation and do not have their own conjugation endings.

    Many verbs exist in a transitive and intransitive form. An example of this would be:

    tassippoq "he puts on a belt"
    tassippaa "he puts a belt on her"


    The following table shows the intransitive conjugation (the one without a specific object) of the verb nerivoq “he eats” in all modes. The last syllable of the question is lowered, not raised. The optative expresses what someone would like and is replaced by the imperative in the 2nd person. The first four modes have three people, the last four have four. For use by the syntactic modes, see section #Sentencing .

    indicative Interrogative Optional imperative
    neri vunga "I eat" neri vunga ? "Do I eat?" neri naanga "I may eat" -
    neri vutit "you eat" neri vit? "do you eat?" - neri git "eat!"
    neri voq "he eats" neri va? "he eats?" neri li "may he eat" -
    neri vugut "we eat" neri vugut? "Do we eat?" neri naagut "we like to eat" neri sa "let's eat!"
    neri vusi "you eat" neri visi? "are you eating?" - neri gitsi "eat!"
    neri pput "they eat" neri ppat? "Eat?" neri lit "they like to eat" -
    Conditionalis Causative Contemporary Participial
    neri guma "when I eat" neri gama "because I eat" neri llunga "I / eating myself" neri sunga "that I eat"
    neri guit "when you eat" neri gavit "because you eat" neri llutit "you / eating yourself" neri sutit "that you eat"
    neri ppat "when he eats" neri mmat "because he eats" neri llugu "eating him" neri soq "that he eats"
    neri guni "if he eats himself" neri gami "because he eats himself" neri lluni "eating himself" neri gaanni "that he eats himself"
    neri gutta "when we eat" neri gatta "because we eat" neri lluta "we / eating ourselves" neri sugut "that we eat"
    neri gussi "when you eat" neri gassi "because you eat" neri llusi "you eating" neri susi "that you eat"
    neri ppata "when you eat" neri mmata "because they eat" neri llugit "eating them" neri sut "that they eat"
    neri gunik "if you eat yourself" neri gamik "because you eat yourself" neri llutik "eating it yourself" -

    All forms can also be created for transitive verbs. These are used both for sentences with a complete object and for sentences in which the object is only a personal pronoun. There are already several dozen forms for the indicative alone.

    1st person Sg. 2nd person Sg. 3rd person Sg. 1st person Pl. 2nd person Pl. 3rd person Pl.
    object 1st person Sg. - asa varma
    "you love me"
    asa vaanga
    "he loves me"
    - asa vassinga
    "you love me"
    asa vaannga
    "they love me"
    2nd person Sg. asa vakkit
    "I love you"
    - asa vaatit
    "he loves you"
    asa vatsigit
    "we love you"
    - asa vaatsit
    "they love you"
    3rd person Sg. asa vara
    "I love him"
    asa vat
    "you love him"
    asa vaa
    "he loves him"
    asa varput
    "we love him"
    asa varsi
    "you love him"
    asa vaat
    "they love him"
    1st person Pl. - asa vatsigut
    "you love us"
    asa vaatigut
    "he loves us"
    - asa vatsigut
    "you love us"
    asa vaatigut
    "they love us"
    2nd person Pl. asa vassi
    "I love you"
    - asa vaasi
    "he loves you"
    asa vassi
    "we love you"
    - asa vaasi
    "they love you"
    3rd person Pl. asa vakka
    "i love her"
    asa vatit
    "you love her"
    asa vai
    "he loves her"
    asa vavut
    "we love you"
    asa vasi
    "you love her"
    asa vaat
    "they love you"

    All of these inflected endings apply to the vowel stems. The following applies to the inflection of the other two classes (deviations in the imperative):

    Initiation of the inflection ending p-stem r-stem
    modification example modification example
    -v- -pv-> -pp- sinip punga "I sleep" -rv-> -rp- atuar punga "I read"
    -pp- -ppp-> -pp- sini pput "they sleep" -rpp-> -rp- atuar put "they read"
    -n- -pn-> -nn- sinin naanga "I may sleep" k. Change atuar naanga "I may read"
    -G- -pg-> -kk- sinik kaanni "that he sleeps himself" -rg-> -r- atuar aanni "that he reads himself"
    -l- -pl-> -ll- sinil lit "they like to sleep" k. Change atuar lit "they like to read"
    -s- -ps-> -tt- sinit tunga "I am asleep" -rs-> -rt- atuar tunga "I reading"
    -mm- -pmm-> -mm- sini mmat "because he sleeps" -rmm-> -rm- atuar mat "because he reads"


    While German only has two imperative forms (singular and plural), the variety of forms in Greenlandic is significantly greater. There are three intransitive imperatives:

    sini git! "Sleep!"
    sini gitsi! "Is sleeping!"
    sinit ta! "Let's sleep!"

    Each form can also be negated to express a prohibition, which creates prohibitives :

    sinin nak! "Do not sleep!"
    sinin nasi! "Not sleeping!"
    sinin nata! "Let's not sleep!"

    All forms can still be formed transitive, such as:

    ikiulaar tigut! "Help us please!"
    aperi nanga! "Do not ask me!"

    Imperatives in their pure form are perceived as very crude, so that they are weakened by derivation. -Laar- “a little” and -lluar- “good” are often used as please and niar “plan to do something”, often as an invitation.

    qaa laar it! "Please come here!"
    sini lluar itsi ! "Sleep well!"
    nipanger niar it! "Be quiet!"
    kaffisior niar itsi ! "Come and have a coffee!"


    The Derivation represents the centerpiece of the Greenlandic word formation. In order to form a language from the comparatively few basic words, words are as long as supplemented by derivational until they express what you are. Theoretically, very long words can be formed in this way, with each morpheme deriving the word immediately preceding it. Each morpheme has two basic properties. One is morphological and determines whether the morpheme cuts off the final word of the previous word ( truncated, from Latin truncare "to cut") or appended directly ( additive, from Latin addere "to add"). The second property relates to whether a verb is made into a verb or a noun, or a noun is made into a noun or a verb. Morphemes that make verbs from nouns cannot therefore be attached to verbs. An example of the ingenuity resulting from Greenlandic derivation is given here:

    nalunaarpaa "He makes it known"
    nalunaarasuarpaa "He makes it known quickly"
    nalunaarasuartarpoq "he is quick to advertise"
    nalunaarasuartaat "with which you can quickly introduce something" (radio station)
    nalunaarasuartaatiliorpoq "he is building a radio station"
    nalunaarasuartaatilioqat "Helper in setting up a radio station"
    nalunaarasuartaatilioqateeraq "little helper in setting up a radio station" (radio station drawing board sketch )
    nalunaarasuartaatilioqateeraliorpoq "he is making a radio station drawing board sketch "
    nalunaarasuartaatilioqateeraliorfik "where to make a radio station drawing board sketch " (radio station drawing board )

    Divided into the individual morphemes, the word can be read as:

    make known-quickly-usually-what-make-help-small-make-where

    Many morphemes can appear greatly changed in their appearance by their surroundings, since they can be adjusted from the previous word and clipped from the next. The basic forms of the morphemes are actually -gasuar- (“fast”), -tar- (“usually”), -ut- (“means to”), -lior- (“do”), -qat- (“the something executes "), -araq (" small "), -lior- and -vik- (" place ").

    Some exemplary derivative morphemes are given below.

    Verbs to Verbs

    -nngit- "not" (truncative)
    ajorpoq "it is bad" → aju nngi laq "it is good"
    -katap- "have enough of" (truncated)
    takuara "I see him" → taku katap para "I've had enough of seeing him"
    -llaqqip- "can do well" (truncated)
    kunippaa "she kisses him" → kuni llaqqip poq "she can kiss well"
    -galuttuinnarpoq- "gradually more and more" (truncated)
    siallerpoq "it's raining" → sialle raluttuinnar poq "it's gradually raining more and more"
    -ngajap- "fast" (truncative)
    sinivunga "I'm sleeping" → sini ngajap punga "I almost slept"
    -vallaar- "too much" (additive)
    qasuvoq "he is tired" → qasu allaar poq "he is too tired"
    -nngitsuugassaanngit- "must not be omitted" (truncated)
    atuarpaa "he reads it" → atua nngitsuugassaanngi laq "it must not be neglected to be read"

    Tenses are also expressed through verb-verb derivation. While a verb without a temporal derivative morpheme usually describes a present to preterital action, this can be further modified with the following morphemes:

    -tar- "always", "usually", "usually"
    kaffisorpoq "she drinks (just) coffee" → kaffisor tar poq "she drinks (usually) coffee"
    -ssa- "will", "should"
    aperaat "you ask" → aperi ssa pput "you will ask"
    -ler- "start"; "straight"
    nerivugut "we're eating" → neri ler pugut "we 're just starting to eat"
    -reer- "be done", "already"
    nerivoq "he eats" → nere reer poq "He is with the food ready ," "he has already eaten"
    -nikuu- "has (mal)"
    nerivoq "he eats" → neri nikuu VOQ "he has eaten" (and I was there).
    -sima- "has (apparently)", "should"
    nerivoq "he is eating" → neri sima voq "he has (apparently) eaten" (the plate that was used is still there)

    The derivatives for the past are not necessary if a time is given: Juuliup appaani Nuummip punga . "On the second of July I was (" am ") in Nuuk".

    Modal verbs are also formed by derivation. The most important are:

    -sinnaa- "can", "may"
    takuara "I see him" → taku sinnaa vara "I can see it"
    -tariaqar- "must", "should"
    tiguat "you take it" → tigu sariaqar pat "you have to take it"
    -rusup- "like", "like to want"
    sinippisi? “Are you sleeping?” → sine rusup pisi? " Do you want to sleep?"

    Nouns to verbs

    Other derivative syllables derive verbs from nouns. These, too, go far beyond what Indo-European languages ​​are possible and include, have , be and will include , but also eat or build:

    -qar- "have" (truncative)
    qimmeq "dog" → qimme qar poq "she has a dog"
    -lior- "do" (truncative)
    illu "house" → illu lior poq "she is building a house"
    -tor- "eat", "drink", "use" (additive)
    kaffi "coffee" → kaffi sor poq "she drinks coffee"
    -liar- "travel to" (truncated)
    NuukNuu liar poq "she is going to Nuuk"
    -si- "get", "buy", "find" (additive)
    allagaq "letter" → allagar si VOQ "she has a letter get "
    -nngor- "become" (truncated)
    nakorsaq "doctor" → nakorsa nngor poq "she is a doctor become "
    -u- "to be" (truncative)
    anaana "mother" → anaana a voq "she is mother"

    Verbs to nouns

    -vik- "place, time" (additive)
    oqaluppoq "he speaks" → oqaluf fik "where one speaks" (church)
    -kkajaaq- "a pretty" (truncated)
    takivoq "it's long" → taki kkajaaq "something pretty long"
    -llammak- "someone who is good at" (truncated)
    timersorpoq "he does sport" → timersu llammak "a good athlete"
    -neq- "that one" (nominalizer) (truncated)
    atorpaa "he uses it" → ator neq "use"
    -ut- "means", "cause" (truncated)
    misissorpaa "he examines you" → misissu ut "research tool "

    Noun to noun

    -aluit- "group" (truncated)
    arnaq "woman" → arna aluit "a group of women"
    -nnguaq- "small" (truncative)
    illu "house" → illu nnguaq "a small house"
    -mioq- "residents" (additive)
    NuukNuum miut "the inhabitants of Nuuk"
    ssaq "future" (truncated)
    ui "husband" → uissaq "future husband" (groom)
    -taaq- "new" (additive)
    ukioq "year" → ukiortaaq "the new year" (new year)

    Sentence structure

    Greenlandic is an ergative language in which the subject case depends on whether there is an object or not. In Greenlandic, the subject is only in the absolute (in ergative languages ​​one does not say “nominative”) if there is no specific object.

    Angu t neri voq. "The man eats."

    If there is an object and this is determined, then in Greenlandic the object is in the absolute, the subject in the ergative. The verb is also transitive.

    Angut ip puisi neri vaa. "The man is eating the seal."

    In the case of an indefinite object, on the other hand, there is no ergative, the object in the instrumental stands for that. The verb, on the other hand, is intransitive again.

    Angu t puisi mik neri voq. "The man eats a seal." (Literally The man eats with a seal. )

    The subordinate clauses are not formed as in German, but from the modes mentioned above.

    The contemporaneous functions as a mode for the simultaneity of two actions. You can usually translate it with "and", sometimes with "as". If the verb is intransitive in contemporaneous, then the person is doing the action, if it is transitive, then the action is being performed by the same person as the main verb, and the person of the contemporaneous verb is the target. Intransitive verbs therefore have no 3rd person, whereas transitive verbs have no 4th person.

    Anivoq taku Se nga "He looked at me and went" (about: go-er see end -mich )
    98-inik ukioqar lu ni toquvoqWhen she was 98 years old, she died”. (about: 98-with-year-have- when -they-die )

    The contemporaneous can also be denied, which expresses that an action did not take place at the same time as another. For this, the inflected ending -lu- is replaced by -na-.

    Anipput taku na ta. "They left without having seen us." (For example: go-they see- without- us )

    The causative expresses that something happens before something else, so it marks the prematurity , but also marks reasons. In German it says as or if or if .

    Qasu ga ma innarpunga. " Because I'm tired, I go to sleep." (For example: tired - because - I go to sleep - I )

    The conditional expresses that something happens after something else, i.e. the delay of an action, and it specifies conditions. It can best be translated as if .

    Seqinner pa t Eva anissaaq " When the sun is shining, Eva will go out." (For example: sun_shines - when - you, Eva - you will go out )

    As with ownership, the 3rd person stands for the fact that the person in the "subordinate clause" is different from the person in the "main clause", and the 4th person for the fact that the person is the same:

    Isera mi sinerpaanga "When he (himself) came home, he called me."
    Iserma t sinerpaanga "When he (Hans) came home, he (Peter) called me."

    The participle is the eighth mode of Greenlandic. It can be used in many ways and also works as a name for the perpetrator ( noun agentis ), as a replacement for a relative pronoun and for that . Atuartoq means the following, depending on the context:

    1. reading
    2. reader
    3. the one who reads
    4. that he reads

    For example:

    Angut atuartoq sinilerpoq "The reading man fell asleep." / "The man who read fell asleep." (For example: man reading -end-he sleep-straight-he )
    Atuartoq takuara "I see that she is reading." / "I see the reader." (For example: les-end-they see-I_sie )

    The participle can also be used to form attribute adjectives. To do this, one forms the participle of a property verb like mikivoq (“it is small”), which enables the predicative use of adjectives. The resulting participle mikisoq can literally be translated as “that which is small” or “that which is small” and can therefore be used as an attribute.

    Qimmeq mikisoq qiluppoq "The little dog barks." (For example: dog small_sei-end bark-er )

    Some properties can be described as two nouns angut uttoqqaq "old man", literally old man or ukkusisa- with sanaaq "product made of soapstone".


    Because it is a polysynthetic language, there are comparatively few free morphemes in Greenlandic. Many words in the basic vocabulary can be formed from other words by adding the corresponding derivative morphemes. Two basic vocabulary words based on the etymologically related lexemes oqaq and oqarpoq are an example .

    oqaq "tongue" + -lup- "have pain in"
    oqa lup poq "he speaks" (literally "having a sore tongue")
    oqarpoq "he says" + -useq- "the way to do something"
    oqa aseq "word" (literally "the way to say something")

    The inherited vocabulary from Eskimo-Aleut makes it difficult to name new things in today's society. Such words are basically borrowed from Danish and either ( apart from a grammaticalization ) not at all like helikopteri "helicopter", light like biili (from bil "car") or adapted beyond recognition to the writing system like palasi (from præst "pastor") ).

    The state language authority, the Oqaasileriffik , is responsible, among other things, for creating new Greenlandic words. Further areas of responsibility are the naming of islands, fjords etc. and the recording of Greenlandic personal names. Most Greenlanders today have Danish names, only a few are originally Greenlandic and many Danish names have Greenlandic equivalents. The name Albrekt / Albert has, for example, the correlation Aaliparti and Aalipak , the latter also re danisier bar to Alibak . Maria corresponds to Maalia , but very often the names are given as diminutive, resulting in Maaliannguaq or Maaliaaraq . Knud Rasmussen's nickname was Kunuunnguaq and Henrik Lund's was Intaleeraq .


    Samuel Kleinschmidt

    Since the beginning of writing, the Greenlandic language has been written with the Latin alphabet and not in syllabary such as Inuktitut , which uses its own syllabar from the Canadian syllabary . The first orthography goes back to Samuel Kleinschmidt , who laid it down in his grammar, published in 1851. This was partly based on the sound level at that time, but also specifically reflected the morphological structure of the words. Due to the change in sound in the following decades, the spoken language diverged more and more from the written language, until the Greenland spelling reform in 1973 fundamentally changed the appearance of the writing. Diacritics were replaced by double spellings of vowels and consonants, consonant clusters were dissolved so that the assimilation was carried out in writing, even though the morphological structures of words became more difficult to recognize. The letter Kra (K ', ĸ), which only occurs in Greenlandic, has been replaced by Q q in order to enable spelling with the usual Latin alphabet. The following text example offers a comparison of both spellings:

    Old spelling Inuit tamarmik inúngorput nangminêrsivnâgsusseĸarlutik agsigĩmigdlu atarĸinagsusseĸarlutdlu pisivnâtitãfeĸarlutik. Silaĸagsussermik tarnigdlu nalúngigsussianik pilerssugaugput, ingmínuvdlu iliorfigeĸatigĩtariaĸaraluarput ĸatángutigĩtut peĸatigîvnerup anersâvani.
    New spelling Inuit tamarmik inunngorput nammineersinnaassuseqarlutik assigiimmillu ataqqinassuseqarlutillu pisinnaatitaaffeqarlutik. Silaqassusermik tarnillu nalunngissusianik pilersugaapput, imminnullu iliorfigeqatigiittariaqaraluarput qatanngutigiittut peqatigiinnerup anersaavani.
    German All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1)


    Web links

    Commons : Greenlandic language  - collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. a b c d e Greenlandic at Ethnologue
    2. limited preview in the Google book search
    3. Greenlandic at
    4. ^ Hein Van der Voort: Eskimo Pidgin in West Greenland. In: Ingvild Broch, Ernst Håkon Jahr (Ed.): Language Contact in the Arctic: Northern Pidgins and Contact Languages. Berlin 1996, pp. 157–258, here: p. 233 limited preview in the Google book search.
    5. ^ Eskimo-Aleut language family in Ethnologue
    6. a b c d e Svend Kolte: Kalaallit Oqaasi - Det Grønlandske Sprog . In: Inuit, Kultur og samfund: en grundbog i eskimologi . Systime, Aarhus 1999, ISBN 87-616-0038-5 , p. 86 ff .
    7. a b c d e f g grønlandsk in Den Store Danske
    8. ^ Richard Kölbl : Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 80 .
    9. a b Katti Frederiksen , Carl Christian Olsen : Det grønlandske sprog on the Naalakkersuisut website (.pdf)
    10. a b c d Palle Koch et al. (Section by Robert Petersen ): Grønland . Gyldendal , Copenhagen 1975, ISBN 978-87-00-69501-6 , pp. 194-204 .
    11. Professor: Naivt og dumt at droppe dansk in Sermitsiaq
    12. ^ Richard Kölbl : Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 17 .
    13. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 20 .
    14. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 26 .
    15. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 17 .
    16. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 25th f .
    17. ^ Flemming AJ Nielsen: Vestgrønlandsk grammatik. Nuuk 2014, p. 46-72 . Available online ( memento of April 3, 2018 in the Internet Archive ).
    18. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 28-39 .
    19. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 40-44 .
    20. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 75 ff .
    21. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 44 ff .
    22. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 77 f .
    23. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 78 .
    24. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 82 ff .
    25. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 84 .
    26. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 85 .
    27. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 56 ff .
    28. ^ Richard Kölbl: Greenlandic. Word for word (=  gibberish . Volume 204 ). 2nd Edition. Reise-Know-How-Verlag Rump, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89416-896-4 , p. 50-53 .
    29. Âliparte at
    30. Mâlia at