Add to Favorite     

Inuktitut syllabary

The Inuktitut syllabary is a writing system used by Inuit people in Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec. It was originally adapted from the Cree syllabary by Edmund Peck, an Anglican missionary, in the 1870s. It is one variation on Canadian aboriginal syllabic writing, and can be digitally encoded using the Unicode standard. The Unicode block for Inuktitut characters is called Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics.

The Inuktitut syllabary (titirausiq nutaaq). The extra characters with the dots represent long vowels; in the Latin transcription, the vowel is doubled.

The Inuktitut syllabary (titirausiq nutaaq). The extra characters with the dots represent long vowels; in the Latin transcription, the vowel is doubled.

The initial sound in the syllable can be g, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, ng, ɫ, or nothing, and the vowel can be a, i, u or absent.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has recently changed the official version of the syllabary to restore the "ai-pai-tai" row. The common diphthong AI has generally been represented by combining the "A" form with a standalone ᐃ character. This fourth vowel variant of the official syllabary was initially removed so that Inuktitut could be typed and printed using IBM Selectric balls in the 1970s. The reinstatement was justified on the grounds that modern printing and typesetting equipment no longer suffers the restrictions of earlier typewriting machinery.

The Inuktitut language is written in different ways in different places. In Greenland, Alaska, Labrador, the Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories and in part of Nunavut, it is written with the Latin alphabet (also known as Roman Orthography in some regions). In most of Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec, Inuktitut is written using the Inuktitut syllabary. At present, Inuktitut syllabics enjoy official status in Nunavut, alongside the Latin alphabet, and are used by the Kativik Regional Government of Nunavik, Quebec. In Greenland, the traditional Latin script is official and is widely used in public life.

Because the Inuktitut language is a continuum of only partially intercomprehensible dialects, the language varies a great deal across the Arctic. Split up into different political divisions and different churches reflecting the arrival of various missionary groups, Inuktitut writing systems can vary a great deal.

The first efforts to write Inuktitut came from Moravian missionaries in Greenland and Labrador in the mid-18th century. In the 1870's, Edmund Peck, an Anglican missionary adapted the Cree syllabary to Inuktitut. Other missionaries, and later linguists in the employ of the Canadian and American governments, adapted the Latin alphabet to the dialects of the Mackenzie River delta, the western Arctic islands and Alaska.