Ever wanted to learn Inuktitut? Try this
Let’s Speak Inuktitut program developed through the Tradition and Transition project
Atelihai, pronounced ahh-tee-lee-hi, is the Inuktitut word for "hello" or "welcome."
It's one of the more than 130 words and phrases the Let's Speak Inuktitut project, or UKâlalautta Inuttitut, has recorded and published on the popular audio-sharing site SoundCloud.
"We know that the Inuktitut language here in Labrador is starting to almost disappear," Sara Townley told CBC's Labrador Morning.
"So I think having things like this online is a really good resource for somebody to learn Inuktitut."
Townley isn't involved with the project but she teaches the language and likes that the program breaks things down into syllables.
Inuktitut is full of lengthy words. Some phrases that would be five or six words in English are usually one or two longer words when translated into in Inuktitut.
Take the sentence, 'Lots of flies out, eh?' In Inuktitut, it's kittugialuviningai.
"Kittugia is a fly," Townley explained.
Put that in front of the luviningai, and "it tells you there's a lot of them," she said.
Loss of language
Townley said cultural genocide is what caused Inuktitut to be spoken less but she says she believes it'll come back gradually, and resources like Let's Speak Inuktitut will help with that.
"I think it's going to at least awaken their minds again," she said.
"Maybe it [the language] is just sleeping right now."
These are some phrases:
- SuniakKen unnusa? – What you doing tonight?
- iKalujatsiavait – What a nice catch! (fish)
- Kannijuk – It is snowing
- Nalligivagit – I love you
- kajusitsiatuinnagit – Keep it up!
The entire catalogue of sound bites can be found here.
Let's Speak Inuktitut, or UKâlalautta Inuttitut, was created through the Tradition and Transition project, a five-year partnership between the Nunatsiavut government and Memorial University.
"Having this uploaded to SoundCloud and sharing it through the Tradition and Transition Facebook page and Twitter allows people to see it on social media and use that way to preserve Inuktitut," said Silpa Surak, the language program co-ordinator with the Nunatisavut government and the youth representative on Tradition and Transition's management committee.
She's also who you hear when you click each clip — she records the words and phrases, picking expressions appropriate for the time of year.
Surak said the project's engagement is increasing with people are asking questions.
That just goes to show people are actually interested in learning more Inuktitut.- Silpa Surak
"I think that just goes to show people are actually interested in learning more Inuktitut," she said.
"Having those responses helps to show what kinds of things they want to learn and that we need to keep working on this."
Inuktitut spellings vary throughout the regions where the language is spoken. Nunatsiavut, Labrador, spellings are used in the Let's Speak Inuktitut project.