welcome to the Inuktitut website!!!!
The basics: "ee"s, "ooo"s and "ah"s figure largely in Inuktitut pronunciation.
Note: Most of these files are around 200 k. If you are on a 28.8 modem, it will take approximately one minute
About 5,000 years ago, people from northern Siberia crossed the Bering Strait to occupy North America.
Their migration slowly spread eastward across northernmost North America, reaching northern Baffin Island and Greenland by
4,000 years ago. The modern aboriginal people of Arctic North America, the Inuit, knew these original people as the
"Tuniit"; archaeologists call them Paleo-Eskimos.
For about 3,000 years, the Tuniit lived in isolation from the remainder
of the world, developing unique cultural and technological adaptations to the Arctic environment. About 2,500
years ago (500 BC), the climate changed, becoming cooler than it is today. The Tuniit adapted and developed new ways
to live in the Arctic. Archeologists call this "the Dorset culture" because the first artifacts of this culture were discovered
near Cape Dorset on southern Baffin Island.
The Dorset culture apparently depended on marine mammals, as they developed new types of harpoons, crampons
for walking on ice, and "qudliqs", soapstone heating lamps fueled by oil from sea mammals. The Dorset culture developed until
1000 AD in virtual isolation many in coastal areas from western Nunavut to Greenland and south to northern Quebec and Labrador.
About 1000 AD, the climate started to warm. Over the next 500 years, the ancestors of the Inuit started
to move east out of Alaska; Innu, Dene and Cree people probably made greater use of the Arctic tundra from their homes in
the boreal forests; and the Vikings or Norse established communities on southern Greenland.
Among these expanding peoples, the ancestral Inuit were the most successful, having larger boats than the
Tuniit and sleds pulled by dog team, and being able to harvest large whales like the bowhead. Archeologists suggest that the
Dorset culture disappeared by 1500 AD, but Inuit have suggested that the Tuniit communities continued to occupy Nunavut
until more recently. It is uncertain whether the Tuniit became extinct or became incorporated into Inuit society. The
inukshuk (i.e., stone cairns sometimes taking a human form) of the Inuit may have actually been developed by the Tuniit.
The Dorset and ancestral Inuit occupied the Tununiq region, an area rich in important archeological
sites. Father Guy Mary-Rousseliere, priest and famous archeologist, was Pond Inlet's oldest non-Inuit resident until
a tragic fire took his life in 1994. For decades, he worked closely with several local Inuit conducting research at several
of Tununiq's sites. These Inuit identified many of the sites for him and were able to explain the uses of many artifacts.
In 1999, elder Cornelius Nutarak of Pond Inlet was recognized with the first annual award of the Inuit Heritage Trust for
his own outstanding contributions to Arctic archeology and history.
In 1984, Father Mary, with Inuit like Nutarak, found a 3-m (10 ft) strand of yarn at a Dorset site
in Tununiq. Recently, this yarn have been identified as the same type spun from Arctic hare and goat hair by the Norse that
occupied Greenland about 1250 AD. This artifact and others at the site (e.g., smelted metal) suggest that the Vikings or Norse
were the the first Europeans to visit northern Baffin Island. These visits may have been expeditions to trade
with the Tuniit of Tununiq, or attempts of the Norse to find lands that could support their farming culture. Another climatic
change, the Little Ice Age, eventually drove the Norse out of Greenland and Canada, during a period when the Inuit successfully
expanded into the same regions.
During the 1800s, the Inuit leader, Qillaq, originally from south Baffin, traveled from Tununiq to northern
Greenland. He led about 60 Inuit across Devon and Ellesmere islands to discover the Polar Inuit of northwestern Greenland
who had been isolated for over a century. The Inuit from Tununiq, the Tununirmiut, re-introduced the Polar Inuit to important
hunting technology (e.g., the kayak and kakivak). Today, the Tununirmiut and Polar Inuit make this migration each spring by
aircraft to maintain the close ties established more than 100 years ago.
Except for brief visits by explorers like William Baffin, whalers in search of the bowhead whale were the
next Europeans to visit the Tununiq area in the 1800s. Once commercial whaling had taken its toll on bowhead stocks in Arctic
waters to the south, the first whaling station in Tununiq was established in 1903.
By 1912, bowhead numbers and whaling collapsed. In 1912, the Arctic Gold Exploration Syndicate and two other
groups arrived in Tununiq, following rumors of gold. No gold was discovered, but these groups established Pond Inlet as a
trading center. In 1921, the Hudson's Bay Company, arrived to take over the Syndicate's post.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived in the same year, following up on the rumors of the killing of
an independent trader, Robert Janes. Janes had earned the distrust and fear of some Inuit. Believing they had little recourse,
some Inuit killed Janes while he was travelling to Igloolik. In 1923, Canada's most northerly murder trial was held on a ship
off Pond Inlet. Two were found guilty, and one was taken to prison in southern Canada.
The lives of the Tununirmiut changed in another way in the 1920s with the arrival of missionaries and the
construction of Anglican and Catholic missions. A life-sized crucifix watches over the original Roman Catholic mission from
the coastal escarpment. The mission was renovated and expanded in 1995.
Life in the North changed again in the 1940s when many Inuit encountered aircraft for the first
time, during and after World War II. The new products and people that these aircraft brought affected the Inuit in many ways.
In the late 1940s, the RCMP, with cooperation of the traders, attempted to restrict caribou harvesting by the Inuit of Baffin
and Bylot islands as caribou numbers declined. The Inuit recognize declines in caribou as part of a natural cycle occurring
over the lifetime of an elder. The difficulty in obtaining caribou skins for winter clothing and meat for food was probably
more problematic than the efforts of non-Inuit to control the harvest.
The 1960s saw the next major changes in the lives of the Tununirmiut and other Inuit. A federal school was
built in Pond Inlet. Student residences housed children whose parents continued living on the land. Southern education introduced
a gap between some children and their parents and elders since the children had few opportunities to learn in traditional
ways. By the late 1960's, most families had moved into Pond Inlet as housing became available. Nevertheless, even today some
families from Pond Inlet continue to live most of the year on the land in outpost camps.
Nutarak, a historian, has observed that, once every 20-30 years, several events combine to cause major changes
in the lives of Inuit. He has suggested that the settlement of the Inuit land claim in 1993 and the creation of the new Canadian
territory of Nunavut in 1999 will prove to be such events.
By comparing the past 100 years to the next 100 years, future historians may trace how events in the 1990s
allowed the Tununirmiut and other Nunavut residents to have more control over the pace and types of changes affecting their
a point of land between two bays
strait or narrows
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- I -
where there is a house
the sound, channel
muddy, turbid, foul
the large bay, sheltered
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- K -
Kangak, Kangeeak, Kangerk
the large island
the place where dogs are kept
Back to Top
- M -
Back to Top
- N -
the large plain
Nauja, Naujan, Nauyan, Nauyat
Back to Top
- Q -
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- S -
the one opposite
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- T -
where many people arrive
(ee, long e)
(oo,u, long u) aa
Guttural: qi qu qa
ngi ngu ngaa
(Singular:) person, inuk, Eskimo: inuk Note: The term "Eskimo"
is no longer used
(Plural:) People, persons, inuit, Eskimos : inuit Note: The term "Inuits"
does not exist
White, European (anyone not Inuit): qallunaaq !
woman, women: arnaq, arnait
a younger sibling: nukaq
an older sibling: angajuq
and drink, household, other tools
water (to drink) imiq
to drink imiqtuq
to eat nirijuq
pen, pencil titiraut
woman's half-moon shaped knife ulu
blade knife savik
pair of mitts pualuuk
knife, paring qaangijaut
snow knife savik, also: pana
gun, rifle qukiut
harpoon head saku
Land , water and climate
spring, early summer upirngaaq
wind blows anuraaqtuq
water (general imaq
snow (gen.) aput
snow, deep soft mauja
sea ice tuvaq
Our Land Nunavut
Animals, animal parts
nanuk or nanuq A polar bear
tusk, ivory tuugaaq
whale, Narwhale tuugaalik
sealskin boots kamik
dog, Huskie qimmik
dog team qimmuksit
Arctic fox tiriganiaq
Arctic wolf amaruq
owl ukpiq, also spelled: uppik
mosquito bite qikturiaqtauniq
to hunt (gen.) angunasuktuq
You (sing.) ivvit
You (plur.) ilissi
who ? kina ?
me, mine uvanga
you ! qujannamiik !
return to utiqtuq
ouch ! a-aa !
heavy (is) uqumaittuq
go ahead ! atii !
to go home
is that so ? hii ?
how ? (manner) qanuq ?
how many ? qassit ?
outside (outdoors) silami
here ! tavva !
when ? qanga ?
? nani ?
night (evening) unnuk
Typical sound file sizes in this section are from 70 K to
120 K each.
Some sound files below are not available; the translation is provided
I am tired Taqavungga
to sleep Sinigumavunga
I am hungry Kaakpunga
I have had enough (of whatever we are doing) Taqqavunga
I feel sick
I feel cold in my hands Aggaijaqpunga
I feel cold in my feet Issigaijaqpunga
I feel cold in my
I feel warm Uquuvunga
I have a pain in my leg (My leg hurts) Niuluaqivunga
I have a pain in
my my foot Issigaluaqivunga
I have a pain in my my feet Issigakka aaniaqput
I have a pain in my hand Aggaluaqivunga
I have a pain in my head Niaqunguvunga
I have a pain in my belly Naanguvunga
I want to go home Angirraqsiqpunga
I want to see the floedge Sinaanganik takuyumavunga
I want to go walrus hunting Aivirsiurumavunga
I want to go
seal hunting Natsirsiurumavunga
I want to see an iceberg Piqqalujamik takujumavunga
I want to see Thule historic sites
I want to see ancient Dorset sites Tunniit itarnisarvivininganik takujumavunga
to see sod houses (i.e. Thule houses) Qaqmavinniqnik takuyumavunga
I want to see caribou Tuktunik takujumavunga
want to see arctic fox Tirriganianik takujumavunga
I want to see arctic wolves Amarungnik takujumavunga
I want to
see lemmings Avinganik takujumavunga
I want to take a photograph Ajjiliurijumavunga
I want to take a photo of you
Is it OK to touch (slap) your dogs ? Qimmiit patamajugungnarpara ?
Is it OK to touch the dogs ? Qimmiit
Sample phrases to illustrate how Inuktitut expressions are developed
As quoted from: Inuktitut A Grammar
of North Baffin Dialects by Alex Spalding.
qaivuq he comes
come-soon-will-probably-not-it is true-he
How are you? Qanuipit?
I am fine Qanuingittunga
is your name? Kinauvit?
I want to take your picture Ajjiliurumajagit
Thank you Qujannamiik
That's all Taima
are welcome Ilaali
I am hungry Kaaktunga
It is cold (weather) Ikkiirnaqtuq
Will the weather be good today? Silasianguniapa?
Did you make this? Una sanajait?
How much is it? Qatsituqqa?
How many? Qatsiit?
No Aakka or aagaa
Maybe (I don't know) Atsuuli or aamai
I have to use the washroom Quisuktunga
I am sick Aaniajunga
What is it? Una suna?
Where is the hotel? Nau taima sinitavik?
Where is the store? Nau
Where is the church? Nau taima tuksiavik?
Where am I? Namiippunga?
I want to go by dogteam Qimuksikkuurumavunga
I want to phone Uqaalagumajunga
I want to go fishing Iqalliarumajunga
Goodbye (to an individual) Tavvauvutit
to you all Tavvauvusi
Inuktitut word English meaning
Inuksuk A pile of rocks used as a marker
of "inuksuk" (three or more)
Inuk A person of Inuit descent
Inuit The people
Inuktitut Inuit language
Kivalliq Current name for the Keewatin region (which includes the west coast of Hudson
Bay and inland area)
Kitikmeot Central Arctic region
Maktaaq Whale skin and blubber
Nanuq Polar bear
Qulliq Stone oil lamp
Amauti A woman's parka, in which a child is carried in the hood
Tiriganiarjuat Red foxes
Tiriganiaq Arctic fox
Kairulik Harp seal
Udjuk Bearded seal
Arviit Bowhead whales
To understand the nature of "Inuktitut", the word needs to be built from its roots.
"Inuit" refers to three or more Arctic aboriginal persons, and an "Inuk" is one Inuit person. Consequently, "Inuk-titut" roughly
translates as "in the way of an Inuk". Inuktitut is not just a language; it is a way of life. An Inuk not only speaks in Inuktitut,
but he or she also acts, thinks and lives "in the way of an Inuk". As you can image, truly understanding Inuktitut might take
non-Inuit a lifetime or more. Nevertheless, learning a few phrases and words can establish goodwill between visitors and Inuit,
especially when dealing with a guide or other Inuit for several days. The following are a few pronunciation guides, common
words and phrases to get you started.
Vowel Pronunciation As in
"I" "ee" or "ey" fee or key
"u" "oo" or
"ew" too or new
"a" "a" man
"ai" " " bike
"au" "ow" now
"ua" "wha" what
"iu" "ee-oo" me-oo
English Meaning Inuktitut Pronunciation
(or rising of the eye brows)
No aakka (or lowering of the eye brows) aak-ka
Land that faces north Tununiq Too-new-nic(k)
Inuit from Tununiq
northern Baffin Island Tununirmiut Too-new-nea(r)-meeoot
House iglu ig-loo
Snow house igluvigak
Kayak kajak ka-yak
Fish spear kakivak ka-key-vak
Polar bear nanuq
Caribou tuktu took-too
Narwhal qilalugaq (k)ey-la-loo-gak
Pronunciation guides: Inuktitut could be called a vowel-based language. That is, every syllable ends
in a vowel sound, unless there are two consecutive consonants. In this case, the syllables are split between the two consonants.
For example, Inuktitut is pronounced "I-nuk-ti-tut" or "Ee-nook-tee-toot", not "In-ook-tit-oot". An exception occurs in words
like "Pangnirtuq" because in Inuktitut "ng" is a single consonant. The pronunciation is "Pang-ni(r)-too(k)" which translates
to "place with mature male caribou". Hopefully, you noticed the (r) and (k) which emphasize that the Inuktitut "r" and "q"
are not pronounced like the English letters. In Inuktitut, "r" and "q" are released in the throat, not from the mouth or lips,
and are hard for an English tongue to master. Apparently, they are sounds easier for Francophones to handle.
English Meaning Inuktitut Pronunciation
What is your name? kinauvit key-now-veet?
I am Marian. Marian-ujunga Marian-oo-yoonga
How are you? qanuippit (k)a-new-eep-peat?
I am fine. qanuinngi (k)a-new-een-ngee
Thank you. qujannamiik (k)u-yan-na-meek
welcome. alaali a-laa-li
You, too. ivvillu iv-vid-loo
Good morning (if a greeting)
morning (if referring to time) ullaakkut ood-laa-koot
Good afternoon (if a greeting)
In the afternoon (if referring
to time) unnusakkut oo-new-saak-koot
Good night (if a greeting)
In the night (if referring to time) unnukkut