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Inuktitut (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ)

Spoken in

CanadaCanada Canada
speaker 39,770
Official status
Official language in NunavutNunavut Nunavut Québec ( Nunavik ) Newfoundland and Labrador ( Nunatsiavut ) Northwest Territories
Newfoundland and Labrador 
Northwest TerritoriesNorthwest Territories 
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3

iku (macro language)
includes languages:

  • ike (Eastern Canadian Inuktitut)
  • ikt (Inuinnaqtun)

Inuktitut ("language of man") is the name of the Eastern Canadian dialect group of the Eskimo languages, which is mainly spoken in the Nunavut Territory , but also has speakers in Québec , Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the Northwest Territories .

The term Inuktitut stands on the one hand for the eastern Canadian dialects, on the other hand for all Canadian Eskimo dialects (including the western Canadian ), or for the entirety of the Eskimo languages, whose catchment area extends from Siberia via Alaska and Canada to Greenland .

In the Canadian territory of Nunavut , parliament passed the Inuit Language Protection Act on September 19, 2008 , which stipulates that citizens can regulate their affairs with authorities, in hospitals, etc. on Inuktitut.

Dialects of the Inuktitut

Map of the North American Eskimo Languages

The northernmost Inuktitut dialect is the Qikiqtaaluk uannangani , which is spoken in the northern part of the Qikiqtaaluk region - apart from a few small areas in the west of the region that are more likely to be attributed to the Inuinnaqtun. The dialect Qikiqtaaluk nigiani is only spoken in the southern part of Baffin Island . The Québec Labrador Inuktitut is divided into the Nunavimmiutitut , also Tarramiutut , which is spoken in Nunavik , and the Nunatsiavimmiutut or Inuttut , which is spoken in Labrador and which is still home to a smaller, almost extinct dialect, the Rigolet Inuktitut . The Kivallirmiutut spoken in the extreme south of Nunavut is also assigned to the Inuktitut.

A comprehensive term is Inuktut .

ISO 639-3 dialect area Number of speakers font
(East Inuit)
Nunatsiavummiutut (Inuttut) NL : Nunatsiavut 550 Latin
Nunavimmiutitut (Tarramiutut) QC : Nunavik 10700 Syllabary
Qikiqtaaluk nigiani (Aggurmiutut) NU : Qikiqtaaluk 5740
Qikiqtaaluk uannangani 4550
Aivilingmiutut NU : Kivalliq 1500
Kivallirmiutut 5500
(West Inuit)
Natsilingmiutut (Nattiliŋmiutut) NU : Kitikmeot 1500
Inuinnaqtun 1000 Latin
Siglitun (Inuvialuktun i. E. S.) NT : Inuvik 200

Form theory and sentence structure

Like other Eskimo-Aleut languages , the Inuit languages ​​have a very rich morphological system in which a series of different linked morphemes are attached to lexemes (see also incorporation and polysynthetic language structure ). All words in the Inuit languages ​​begin with a lexeme to which linked morphemes are appended. The languages ​​have hundreds of different affixes, in some dialects up to 700. Their theory of forms is very regular. Although the rules are sometimes very complicated, there are no exceptions as in German or other Indo-European languages .

This system can make the words very long. For example in the Inuktitut of central Nunavut , Canada:

"I can't hear very well"

This long word consists of a root tusaa- 'hear' and five attached elements ( affixes or other lexical morphemes ):

-tsiaq- "good"
-junnaq- "can"
-nngit- "not"
-tualuu- "very much"
-junga "I" (1st person singular present indicative indefinite)

Word formations like this occur everywhere in Inuit languages. In a major work from Canada, the Nunavut Hansard , a collection of minutes of parliament, 92% of all words appear only once, very different from most English Hansards. Nor can one simply apply the idea of ​​parts of speech to Inuit languages, because fully inflected verbs can also be interpreted as nouns. The word ilisaijuq can be understood as a fully inflected verb: "he studies" or as a noun: "student". The meaning can only be determined in the context of the sentence.

List of syllables for Inuktitut

Inuit language theory and syntax vary slightly from dialect to dialect, but the basic principles apply to all of them and to a certain extent to Yupik as well .


In northeast Canada , especially in the Nunavut Territory and in Nunavik ( Northern Québec ), the Inuktitut is written with a syllabary which is a variant of the Canadian syllabary (see also Cree script ). The first syllabary print of Inuktitut dates from 1855/56.

ᖃᓂᐅᔮᖅᐸᐃᑦ Qaniujaaqpait denotes the syllabary, ᖃᓕᐅᔮᖅᐸᐃᑦ Qaliujaaqpait the Latin script . When it comes to the syllabary, a distinction is made between the new variant ᑎᑎᕋᐅᓯᖅ ᓄᑖᖅ Titirausiq nutaaq (since 1976) and the old variant ᑎᑎᕋᐅᓰᑦ ᓄᑕᐅᓐᖏᑦᑐᑦ Titirausiit nutaunngittut . Since 2011 there have been new reform efforts.

Web links

Commons : Inuktitut  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Inuktitut  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Inuktitut vocabulary  - sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. The Aboriginal languages ​​of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit census results 2016 in Canada
  2. Official Languages ​​Act, S.Nu. 2008, c. 10 , p. 3 with Inuit Language Protection Act, S.Nu. 2008, c. 17 , p. 1 (2)
  3. ^ Charter of the French Language, CQLR c. C-11 , p. 95
  4. Nunatsiavut Constitution Act, CIL 2012 N-3 (PDF) s. 1.6.1
  5. Official Languages Act, RSNWT 1988, c. O-1 (PDF) s. 4th
  6. ^ Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian at Ethnologue
  7. ^ The languages ​​of Nunavut: A delicate balance
  8. total: 31,240; Source: UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages ​​in Danger based on the 2006 Census data , where all dialects were referred to together as Inuktitut .
  9. Inuktitut is also spoken in Yellowknife , Inuinnaqtun in Ulukhaktok , see Official Languages ​​of the Northwest Territories
  10. ^ Kenn Harper: The First Inuktitut Language Conference . Aut ᐊᔭᒍᐊᑉ ᐅᓂᑉᑲᒐ ᐃᓄᓯᒥᓂᒃ The autobiography of John Ayaruaq (1968) is considered to be the first modern letterpress .
  11. ^ Kenn Harper: Language standardization ; in detail: Writing systems and translations , Inuktitut # 53 (PDF) 1983.
  12. Recommendation # 9 of the National strategy on Inuit education 2011 - Title: First Canadians, Canadians first (PDF) = ᓄᓇᒋᓚᐅᖅᖢᑎᒍᑦ ᑲᓇᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑎᓐᓇᒍ ᒫᓐᓇ ᑲᓇᑕᒥᐅᖑᓂᖅᐳᑦ ᓯᕗᓪᓕᐅᑎᑉᐸᕗᑦ (Inuktitut) = Hivuliit Kanatamiut, Kanatamiut hivuliuyut (Inuinnaqtun) = Hivulit Kanatami, Kanuvigaatami hivuliit = Sivullipât Canadamiut, Canadamiut sivullipât (Inuttut) = Les premiers canadiens, canadiens en premiers (PDF)
  13. National Post : With nine written versions and two alphabets, Inuit language finally getting much needed makeover