Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Languages of Canada

A Little Lesson in Inuktitut...

Canada is officially a bilingual country with those languages being Canadian English and Canadian French, but up north, past the tree line, where the native Inuit live there is a third language - Inuktitut.  In 1999, the area known as Nunavut was declared an official Canadian territory and since the vast majority of people living there are Inuit, the aboriginal people who have lived there for thousands of years, the official language is their own, Inuktitut.  There are other dialects of Inuit languages but Inuktitut is the most common with about 35,000 speakers.  Once the use of the language was declining but recently the government of Nunavut has promoted the teaching of it in preschool, elementary and secondary schools in order to preserve it for future generations. 

The language is written using syllabics, which are symbols drawn to represent the sounds.  The website I found for the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre had a great chart you can download to learn more about the language and lots of information on the wonderful culture of the Inuit people.  They also had some common phrases translated into our alphabet AND spelled phonetically so I will teach you a few now...

How are you?  is spelled   Qanuipit?  and said  Ka-nwee-peet?
I am fine                Qanuingittunga         Ka- nweeng-ni-toon-ga
Thank you              Qujannaniik             Coo-yan-na-mee-ick
You're welcome        Ilaali                      Ee- lah-li
Good Morning         Ulaakut                   Ooo-lah-coot
Good Bye              Tavvauvutit               Tah-vow-voo-teet
Polar Bear                Nanuq                     Naa-nook
Walrus                     Aiviq                       Eye-vick
Dog                         Qimmik                   Kim-mick

A fun little language to learn and an interesting culture that has survived (and thrived) for thousands of years in some of the harshest areas known to man.  I wonder if I could even last one winter?  Probably not.

No comments:

Post a Comment