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Inuktitut Linguistics for Technocrats

by

Mick Mallon

Ittukuluuk Language Programs

Contents

Iqaluit 2000

A: HISTORY OF SYLLABICS

I can give you all the dates and personalities by cribbing from Kenn Harper's work, but the most important detail to remember is that the syllabic system was originally devised by English clergymen in the last century. They were Godly men, but they weren't trained linguists. The system they developed filtered Inuit sounds through English ears, and we are still struggling with the infelicities that flowed from that.

• They could not hear the vital difference between the sound k and the sound q (they are

two different phonemes

they produced the digraph ᕿ ᖁ ᖃ ᖅ , whose clumsiness still creates confusion.

• They also were misled by the English use of the digraph ng to represent the single

see below), and when they did try to remedy that omission

phoneme ŋ , thus giving us the awkward series ᖏ ᖑ ᖓ ᖕ.

• Finally, they were misled by the geometrical quadruplicity of the syllabic system to think that there were four vowels in Inuktitut. There are only three: logically we need only three columns plus the finals.

So much for the last century. Then in 1976 came the meeting at the ICI (Inuit Cultural Institute)

in Arviat (then called Eskimo Point). That's when we produced the new, modern, low-fat salt-

free dual orthography. We missed a few opportunities, mostly through ignorance.

• We didn't know that the Natsilingmiut dialect had an extra phoneme ɟ. (That's a j with a strikethrough: it's a kind of a curled tongue y)

• We thought that nobody had the sequence n ŋ . We were wrong, and later you'll see the problem that created.

• We knew that several Keewatin and Western dialects use the sound h instead of the sound s. We thought this didn't matter. They think it does.

• And then there is the use of q in the middle of words. That's my fault. I'll explain it later, right at the very end.

B: LINGUISTIC DEFINITIONS

Phonetics is simply the study of the sounds themselves. The phonetician wants to know precisely how the sounds are produced, or what their precise audio qualities are.

Phonology is the study of the sound system of a language. The phonologist takes the results of the phonetician's work and uses it to see how these sounds interact. To the phonetician all sounds are equal. The phonologist considers phonemes (the basic sounds of the particular language: see below) to be of greater import than allophones (variants of phonemes).

Morphology is the study of the word-building processes of the language. English has a complicated, rather illogical morphology, but the bulk of meaning in English communication is transferred by the way we arrange words in sentences. Inuktitut has a logically simple morphology, which carries a far greater load in communication in Inuktitut than morphology does in English. An Inuktitut word can replace a whole English sentence. Parimunngauniralauqsimanngittunga I never said I wanted to go to Paris.

A morpheme is "a minimal unit of meaning". There are three morphemes in the English word

unwarlike. There are eight (or so) morphemes in the Inuktitut word above: Paris + mut +

nngau + niraq + lauq + sima + nngit + junga (Inuit morphemes often change shape slightly

as they get tacked on).

Morphophonology is the study of how the rules of the sound system (the phonology) affect the word-building process (the morphology). In many languages you don't just jam the bits together: you have to modify them to fit the sound pattern of that particular language. Even in

English we say a situation that is not "tolerable" is "intolerable", but one that is not "possible"

is "impossible", (m and p are both formed in the same part of the mouth: English likes

geographical propinquity in its sounds.) The morphophonology of Inuktitut is much more developed than that of English. The fontographer has to be aware of this. It's not enough for

him to know the sounds of the language: he should be aware of their possible combinations.

C: STATIC PHONOLOGY

We'll start with static phonology, a simple listing of the phonemes of something I'll call Standard Inuktitut, in other words, Inuktitut without the dialectal variations.

The layout is pretty standard.

Across the top is the Place of Articulation, i.e., the place in the mouth where the sound is produced. The Inuktitut table differs from the English table in one particularly important point:

Inuktitut has uvular sounds; English doesn't. That difference is why, as explained in the history section above, we have that awkward syllabic digraph for qi qu qa q: ᕿ ᖁ ᖃ ᖅ .

Along the side is the Manner of Articulation, i.e., the manner in which we modify the air as it emerges. (This is all explained much more clearly in the PowerPoint presentation you have, the one on Phonology.) The three manners are voiceless, voiced, and nasal. This is of much more

than academic interest, because in Inuktitut in any cluster of two consonants

have more than two (see next section)

must be voiceless, or voiced, or nasal. A sequence like the mp of the English word impossible

is impossible in Inuktitut, because m is nasal, and p is voiced. This has an enormous effect on how the finals behave when writing in syllabics, with additional dialectal subtleties, such as

gemination (see

and you can't

both consonants must have the same manner. Both

below).

So far we have followed the standard linguistic approach to any language. However, I will eventually be adding another dimension: Flow of Articulation: i.e., is the sound a continuous one, like f s v or l, or is it a stop, like p t k q. We'll get into that later.

Now for the table, on the next page. If my colour printer is still working, you will see the voiceless sounds in green, the voiced sounds in red, and the nasal in blue. That way you can

think of the consonant clusters as having to be in matching colours

rather twee, but it works.

CONSONANT PHONEMES OF INUKTITUT

Place of Articulation

labi

al

alveola

r

palat

al

vela

r

uvula

r

Voicele

ss

stops

p

t

k

q

Voiced

Nasal

fricativ

es

v

m

s ɬ

l

n

j

g

ŋ

r

[ ɴ ]

Manner of

Articulation

Rules of syllable finals in their basic form

My belief is that in its basic form, every syllable in Inuktitut ends either in:

• one of the three vowels:

• one of the four voiceless stops:

i u a

p t k q

Rules of Combination: Colour with colour

Voiceless with Voiceless:

Voiced with Voiced:

ps kp qq tq but not mp qv vv rl gj gg but not vp mj

Nasal with Nasal:

m ŋ nm ŋŋ nm but not vn ml This simple feature affects many of the combinations of morphemes.

inuk + lu

ᐃᓄ +

inuk + mut ᐃᓄ +

inuglu

ᐃᓄ ᒡᓗ

inu ŋ

ᐃᓄ ᖕᒧ

mut

and a person

to a person

D: SYLLABIC STRUCTURE

An open syllable is one that ends in a vowel.

I've been told that Hawaian is a language where all the syllables are open. No syllable ends in a consonant. Oahu lei

Japanese is also fond of open syllables: arimasu kimono fujiyama

English is anything but an open-syllabled language. Even when you allow for our awkward

spelling system, we abound in closed syllables, often with a cluster of consonants doing the closing instead of just one: strength enchantment switch Christlike

Now let's cut to the chase for Inuktitut. Here is the formula. Brackets mark options.

(C)V(V)(C)

· The essential element in a syllable is a single vowel:

V

una

this one

· That essential vowel may be doubled:

VV

uuma

this one's

· The syllable may begin with a consonant:

CV

siku

ice

CVV

taina

that one

· And the syllable may end with a consonant:

VC

iglu

house

VVC

uattiaq

that's it (finished)

CVC

tuktu

caribou

CVVC

quaq

frozen food

We've already made the classic schoolmarm's distinction between open and closed syllables. For the sake of our discussion on syllabics, I'm going to add these terms:

• a headless syllable is one that does not begin with a consonant, i.e., one that begins with a vowel;

• a headed syllable is one that does begin with a consonant.

The complication with syllabics begins when a closed syllable is followed by a headed one, as in natsiq seal. That juxtaposition automatically creates a consonant cluster.

Notice, before we go on, that the syllabic structure of Inuktitut does not permit the conglomeration of consonants that we find in English. If you apply the formula, you will never have a sequence of more than two consonants, or more than two vowels. In fact, with the exception of a few exclamations, such as uaik!, expressing moderate admiration of someone's accomplishment, and of a few uai combinations in the Pond Inlet subdialect, (quaittuq she slips), Inuktitut does follow this rule rigourously.

Also, Inuktitut automatically considers a single consonant in the middle of a word to be the initial consonant of a headed syllable. A word like aiviq walrus, is always analysed as ai / viq, never as *aiv / iq.

So, a closed syllable only occurs at the end of a word, or in front of a consonant in the middle of a word.

Now, finally, we see where the finals come in.

A syllabic final marks the final consonant of a closed syllable.

Except for the two digraphs discussed below ( ᖅ ᖕ), the final is the a-syllable symbol written small and high.

Before we get into the complications caused by the phonological system, we should clear up the complications caused by history.

Remember the two digraphs: the first caused by the use of as a diacritic to change k to q, in ᕿ ᖁ ᖃ ᖅ , and the second caused by the use of as a diacritic to change g to ŋ , in ᖏ ᖑ ᖓ ᖕ.

THE DIGRAPHIC qq PROBLEM

The symbol is inelegant enough in words like uqaqtuq, ᐅᖃᖅᑐᖅ she speaks. But it would be unacceptably awkward to apply it automatically in words with a double qq, such as utaqqijuq she waits, which would come out as * ᐅᑕᖅᕿᔪᖅ . So we have established a convention that double qqs are written in syllabics (but not in roman), as ᖅᑭ ᖅᑯ ᖅᑲ . Therefore the roman utaqqijuq appears as ᐅᑕᖅᑭᔪᖅ .

That creates a problem for transliteration programs, which I believe you have solved. Unless you write a subprogram, correctly written roman utaqqijuq comes out in syllabics as incorrectly written * ᐅᑕᖅᕿᔪᖅ , while in the other direction, correctly written syllabic ᐅᑕᖅᑭᔪᖅ , comes out as incorrectly written roman *utaqkijuq. There's some more history to this. It turned out that the use of q in the middle of words was a mistake, a psychological rather than a linguistic one, (for which I was largely responsible: see the last page). Anyway, Kativik decided to use only r medially: a good decision. (They made another decision, not so good more on that later.)

THE DIGRAPHIC ŋŋ PROBLEM

A similar, but not absolutely identical, problem to that caused by is the problem caused by

. That symbol is inelegant enough in words like umianga, ᐅᒥᐊᖓ his boat. Once again there is a problem in words with a double ŋŋ , such as umia ŋŋ uaq toy boat, which would come out as * ᐅᒥᐊᖕᖑᐊᖅ in syllables, and even more clumsily, as umiangnguaq in roman. The convention here is to drop the first g of the sequence in roman. This gives us the roman umiannguaq, and, to be consistent, the syllabic ᐅᒥᐊᙳᐊᖅ.

Once again, a problem, albeit a minor one. I'll leave the explanation for my discussion of dialectical variations.

RECAP

Because of the syllabic structure of Inuktitut, finals occur only at the end of closed syllables.

iglu

house

aullalaaq tut

they will depart

A diacritic can occur anywhere.

However, since the sound ŋ never appears at the beginning of a word, neither does the diacritic .

qajaq

kayak

That's the template for the use of finals. But in practice the rules of Inuktitut morphophonology, and the differences between dialects, affect what actually appears. We'll look at morphology next, and then go on to morphophonology.

E: MORPHOLOGY

English morphology is incredibly complicated. First of all, you can have both prefixes and suffixes: like, dislike, likeness.

There is the fact that we have four parts of speech to play around with: nouns, grief; verbs, grieve; adjectives, grievious; adverbs, grieviously; plus all the combinations, like an adjective formed by combining a noun with a verb form: grief-stricken.

Then you have all the clutter caused by the inconsistent heritage of Latin and French: deceive, deceit, deception; receive, receipt, reception.

Inuktitut morphology is much simpler in its approach than English. First, with one exception, there are no prefixes, only suffixes. Second, there are only two major classes, Nouns and Verbs. So we'll start:

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

The Noun Roots can exist on their own, as separate words:

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

iglu

qajaq

Verb Roots cannot exist on their own; they always need an ending. So I always write Verb Roots with a dash after them:

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

iglu

taku-

see

qajaq There are eight noun endings:

sinik-

sleep

The first three are grammatical (like the -m and -se pernickety speakers put on who "Whom do you wish to see?" "Whose little girl are you?

noun endings

1 ø (i.e., no ending at all)

2 -up

3 -mik

subject of nonspecific verb, object of specific

possessor, subject of specific verb

object of nonspecific verb

The next four deal with spatial relationships: some of them have secondary meaning as well.

4 -mi

in, on

5 -mit

from

6 -mut

to

7 -kkut

through

The last one is the "aequalis" case

8

-tut

like

Some examples:

Note: in this section I want to concentrate on the morphology. Therefore most of the examples will be given morpheme by morpheme, with the morphemes separated by +. In the morphophonological section I'll show how the morphemes actually combine.

nuna + up

nunaup

the land's

nuna + mi

nunami

on the land

siku + mut

sikumut

to the ice

inuk + tut

inuktut

like a person

(The plural of inuktut is inuktitut, like people.

That is where the name of the language comes from. If you speak Inuktitut you speak like

people

real people.)

Bad News.

There are, by one count, 699 verb endings in the North Baffin dialect, (only 609 in South Baffin).

Why so many?

First of all, Inuktitut nouns and verbs can be singular, dual and plural.

takujunga

I see

takujuguk we two see

takujugut we several see

Second, instead of using words like because, if, whether, whenever, Inuktitut uses different sets of verb endings:

takugama takugunnuk takungmangaatta because I see if we two see whether we several see

Third, Inuktitut has one set of verb endings for nonspecific situations, and another for specific situations. Compare:

takujunga

takujunga

takugama

I

see

I see

because I see

takujagit

takujara

takugakku

I

see you

I see him

because I see him

Fourth

no, forget the fourth. It's too complicated. Just trust me. So, anyway. 699 verb

endings.

 

So far:

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

noun endings

verb endings

Nouns can have noun chunks attached to them.

The resultant word is a noun, and has all the privileges of one.

Some noun chunks act like adjectives:

umiaq umiaq + juaq umiaq + juaq + mi

boat big boat (ship) in the ship

Some noun chunks expand on the meaning of the noun:

umiaq umiaq + lik umiaq + lik + mut

boat boat-owner to the boat-owner

You can pile up noun chunks

umiaq + juaq + lik + viniq + mit Verbs can have verb chunks attached to them.

from the former ship-owner

The resultant word is a verb, and has all the privileges of one.

Some verb chunks act like adverbs:

taku- taku + ttiaq- taku + ttiaq + jara

see see clearly I see it clearly

Some verb chunks indicate the time of the action:

taku- taku + lauq- taku + lauq + gakku

see saw because I saw it

Other verb chunks act like English auxiliary verbs:

taku- taku + juma- taku + juma + jagit

see want to see I want to see you

And of course, you can pile verb chunks up too:

taku + ttiaq + juma + lauq + gakkit At this stage:

because I wanted to see you clearly

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

noun chunks

verb chunks

noun endings

verb endings

All we have done so far is create bigger and bigger nouns and verbs. The next two types of affixes enormously increase the flexibility of Inuktitut.

Verbs can have Noun-Makers attached to them.

A Noun-Maker turns a verb into a noun, with all the privileges of one.

-ji is a Noun-Maker which has roughly the same meaning as the -er of worker, helper, teacher.

sana-

sana + ji sana + ji + tut

make, work construction worker like a construction worker

make, work construction worker like a construction worker

-vik is a Noun-Maker which means place where the verb happens.

ani-

ani + vik ani + vik + kkut

go out exit (noun) through the exit

-suuq is a Noun-Maker which means one who carries out the action (habitually)

tingmi- tingmi + suuq tingmi + suuq + juaq tingmi + suuq + juaq + mit Nouns can have Verb-Makers attached to them.

fly airplane big plane from the big plane

A Verb-Maker turns a noun into a verb, with all the privileges of one.

-liuq is a Verb-Maker which means make. umiaq umiaq + liuq- umiaq + liuq + juma + junga

-siuq is a Verb-Maker which means look for. tuktu tuktu + siuq- tuktu + siuq + lauq + junga

boat make a boat I want to make a boat

caribou look for caribou I looked for a caribou

It's quite all right to switch back and forth, like this:

umiaq + juaq + liuq + vik + mi

in the ship yard

or this:

anaq- anaq + vik + siuq + junga Here are the categories so far.

defecate I'm looking for a defecatorium

Notice that at this stage they are symmetrical.

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

noun chunks

verb chunks

noun endings

verb endings

Noun-Makers

Verb-Makers

However there are three more categories that fit under the Noun heading, and then a final ubiquitous one.

Nouns can have possessive markers attached to them.

A possessive marker indicates that the noun belongs to someone.

panik panik + ga panik + it panik + nga Kubluup paninga

Possessive markers can take noun endings. panik + nga + mut nuliaq + viniq + nga + mit

daughter my daughter your daughter her / his / its daughter Kublu's daughter

to her daughter from his ex-wife

The Inuktitut Demonstrative Pronouns form a much more complex and subtle category than English ones. They distinguish not simply between this and that, but among this, that over there, that up there, that down there, that inside, that outside, that unseen. They distinguish between stationary and mobile objects. They indicate (by use of the only prefix in Inuktitut: ta-) between objects newly introduced to the conversation and objects already in context. And they have their own set of pronoun endings paralleling the noun endings. Just a couple of examples (given in their full combined forms):

paksuma

that one's up there (mobile: new information)

takatutunaq

like that one down there (stationary: in context)

And then we have the category I have named Whereats in honour of Newfoundland ("Say where you're to and I'll come where you're at.") The Root form is an exclamation:

tavva!

Here it is! (stationary and expected)

avva!

There it is over there! (mobile and unexpected)

The form of stem plus one of four endings gives you spatial information

tavvani

at this (expected) spot

maangat

from this (unexpected) area

tappaunga

to that (expected) area up there

kanuuna

through that (unexpected) spot down there.

The penultimate category consists of tails, little snippets appended to a word already grammatically complete:

uvanga uvanga + lu tukisi- tukisi + juq tukisi + juq + guuq That's it for morphology.

I, me me too understand she understands she understands, she says

We'll summarize the morphology on the next page, and then move on.

MORPHOLOGICAL CATEGORIES

Noun Roots

Verb Roots

noun chunks

verb chunks

noun endings

verb endings

Noun-Makers Pronouns (+endings) Whereats (+ endings) tails

Verb-Makers

mit +

vik +

liaq +

juma +

lauq +

juq +

guuq

VR

NM

VM

vc

vc

ve

tail

land

place

go to

want

past

he

he says

he said he wanted to go to the landing strip However

What happens when we get rid of our + signs and join these morphemes together?

mit +

vik +

liaq +

juma +

lauq +

juq +

guuq

VR

NM

VM

vc

vc

ve

tail

V

D

UA

D

CA

UA

mivviliarumalauqturuuq Morphophonology happens.

F: MORPHOPHONOLOGY

Every affix has its own phonological behaviour. Every time you add an affix you have to be prepared for it either to affect the preceding consonant (the final consonant of the preceding syllable) or to adjust itself. In addition, there are other phonological behaviours such as gemination, or the Nunavik Law of double consonants, that can add a dialectal flavour to the

nished word.

There are seven categories of the preliminary phonological behaviour of affixes, which I shall now list and then, in a moment, describe.

Every affix except the solitary prefix ta- must include its phonological behaviour in its description. Examples follow.

The template:

affix phonological behaviour

grammatical category

meaning

Examples:

-viniq

noun chunk

former, ex-

Deleter

umiaq

Noun Root

boat former boat, wrecked boat

 

umiaviniq

-niaq-

verb chunk

general future

Nasalizer

sinik-

Verb Root

sleep she will sleep

 

sini ŋ niaqtuq

Uvular Alternator

becausative, nonspecific 1st person singular

tukisi-

Verb Root

understand

tukisigama

because I understand

tikit-

Verb Root

arrive

tikinnama

because I arrive

naalak-

Verb Root

listen

naalakkama

because I listen

utiq-

Verb Root

return

utirama

because I return

PHONOLOGICAL BEHAVIOURS

Preliminary note:

With the exception of Vowel Heads, affixes do not usually affect preceding vowels, only preceding consonants. The exceptions to this general rule are noted.

1: Deletion

The simplest of all, and the most numerous category. Deleters delete preceding consonants. Generally, they are unpredictable from their appearance. However, because the syllabic structure of Inuktitut blocks the occurrence of three consonant clusters, any affix beginning with two consonants is automatically a deleter.

Examples:

umiaq

NR

boat

-ksaq

nc

potential, material for

umiaksaq

boat under construction

umiaq

NR

boat

-liuq

VM

make, build

umialiuqtut

they're building a boat

-lauq-

vc

umialiulauqtut Neutral, Voicing, Nasalization

they built a boat

past

These are best understood as three examples of regressive assimilation of Manner. To understand that, we should go back to our table of consonants, repeated next.

In what follows, focus on the Manner, but note how the Place stays the same.

Place of Articulation

labi

al

alveola

r

palat

al

vela

r

uvula

r

s ɬ

l

j

g

r

n

ŋ

[ ɴ ]

Manner of

Articulation

Voicele

ss

Voiced

Nasal

stops

p

fricativ

es

t

k

q

v

m

In Assimilation, a consonant becomes similar to its neighbour in one or more of its features. (Remember that there can be only two consonants in an Inuit cluster.)

In Regressive Assimilation, the assimilation operates backwards, from the second consonant to the first.

In Regressive Assimilation of Manner, the first consonant assumes the manner of the second consonant. In conservative dialects, the first consonant changes its manner, but retains its place (Remember that final consonants are always voiceless in their basic form.)

kj gj

The k becomes voiced, but remains velar.

2: Neutral

kn ŋ n

The k becomes nasal, but remains velar.

In a regressively assimilating affix, if the second consonant is itself voiceless, then of course the first consonant does not undergo a change of manner. Affixes with this behaviour, or lack of behaviour, we label Neutral.

-siuq-

Verb-Maker

look for, hunt

Neutral

aiviq

Noun Root

walrus he's looking for walrus

 

aiviqsiuqtuq

So

no change in the syllabic final:

ᐊᐃᕕ

ᐊᐃᕕᖅᓯ ᐅᖅᑐᖅ

3: Voicing

In a regressively assimilating affix, if the second consonant is voiced, then the first consonant becomes voiced also. Affixes with this behaviour we label Voicers.

-vik

Noun-Maker

place for

Voicer

niuviq-

Verb Root

trade

niuvirvik

store

So

change in the syllabic final:

ᓂᐅᕕ-

ᓂᐅᕕᕐᕕ

4: Nasalizing

In a regressively assimilating affix, if the second consonant is nasal, then the first consonant becomes nasal also. Affixes with this behaviour we label Nasalizers.

-mut

noun ending

to

Nasalizer

umiaq-

Noun Root

boat to a / the boat

 

umiarmut

So

change in the syllabic final:

ᐅᒥᐊ-

ᐅᒥᐊᕐᒧ

Technical Note (but it's important):

You have probably noticed that in roman and syllabics we have use the same symbol for both voiced and nasal uvulars. The phonetic symbol we have used in the table for the nasal uvular is [ ɴ ] in square brackets. [ ɴ ] is the nasal allophone of q. Unlike /r/, it is not a phoneme: it is not a basic sound in the language. There is therefore no need to give it a separate symbol. No Inuk would ever pronounce the r in umiarjuaq (big boat, ship) as if it were nasal, or the r in

umiarmut (to a boat) as if it were simply voiced.

There is, however, another source of confusion here. We'll leave that till later

the last page.

One last complication with some voicers and nasalizers coming up.

Some odd complications after some Voicers

The affix which we have so far written as -juaq for some reason inserts r after vowels. So

-(r)juaq Voicer: insert r after vowels

noun chunk

big

iglu + (r)juaq

iglurjuaq

big house

But:

kuuk + (r)juaq

kuugjuaq

big river

tasiq + (r)juaq

tasirjuaq

big lake

In North Baffin and west of there the affix which we have so far written as -vik inserts v after vowels. So, for North Baffin, the Keewatin and west

-(v)vik Voicer: insert v after vowels

Noun-Maker

 

place for

kati + (v)vik

kativvik

meeting-place

But:

pisuk + (v)vik

pisugvik

walkway

niuviq + (v)vik

niuvirvik

store

In South & East Baffin, and in Nunavik, the affix is simply -vik.

 

kati + vik

kativik

meeting-place

Similar complications after some Nasalizers

 

Compare these two affixes, both of which are Nasalizers beginning with m.

 

-mut

noun ending

to

Nasalizer

nuna

Noun Root

land

nunamut

to the land

But:

-mat

Nasalizer: insert ŋ after vowels

verb ending

because she / he / it

sana- Verb Root

sana ŋ mat

because she / he / it sana- Verb Root sana ŋ mat make because he makes

make

because he makes

Compare these two affixes, both of which are Nasalizers beginning with m.

-mi

noun ending

in, on

Nasalizer

nunami

on the land

But

-mi-

verb chunk

also, too

Nasalizer: insert ŋ after vowels

sana ŋ mijunga

5: Consonant Alternating

I work too

So far the affixes we have looked at affect their neighbours, actively. Now we have an affix which reacts to its neighbour. These affixes take one form after vowels, and another after consonants. Disregarding some dialectal flavours, we can state this.

There are two sets of Consonant Alternators.

• One begins with j after vowels, and with t after consonants.

• The other begins with v after vowels, and with p after consonants. Note that we give both forms in the dictionary listing.

-ji/ti- Consonant Alternator

Noun-Maker

-er

ilisai-

Verb Root

teach

ilisaiji

teacher

niuviq-

Verb Root

trade

niuviqti Syllabics: the vowel form has, of course, no final:

trader

ᐃᓕᓴᐃ-

ᓂᐅᕕᖅ -

ᐃᓕᓴᐃᔨ

ᓂᐅᕕᖅᑎ

Consonant Alternators abound in Statement and Interrogative verb endings:

tukisijunga

I understand

naalaktunga

I listen

tukisivit?

do you understand?

naalakpit?

are you listening?

ᑐᑭᓯᔪᖓ

ᓈᓚᒃᑐᖓ

ᑐᑭᓯᕕᑦ ?

ᓈᓚᒃᐱᑦ?

6: Uvular Alternating

Now it starts to get complicated. Not to begin with. Some Uvular Alternators are (comparatively) simple:

-ga/ra-

possessive marker

my 1st person singular possessor singular possession

Uvular Alternator after vowels:

add -ga fuse k + ga to ga fuse q + ga to ra

 

after k:

after q:

ataata

Noun Root

father

ataataga

my father

panik

Noun Root

daughter

paniga

my daughter

irniq

Noun Root

son

irnira Syllabics: note the final fusing into the possessive:

my son

ᐊᑖᑕ

ᐊᑖᑕᒐ

However

ᐸᓂᒃ

ᐸᓂᒐ

ᐃᕐᓂᖅ

ᐃᕐᓂᕋ

In conservative dialects some Uvular Alternators have a different form for every possible stem. (Note that Noun Roots end only in vowels, k or q, but Verb Roots end in vowels, t k or q.) Here is one common form from North Baffin west to Siglitun (in the extreme west of Canada.)

-juma/tuma/guma/ruma-

Uvular Alternator after vowels:

after t:

verb chunk

want to

add -juma add -tuma to the stem, retaining the original t

after k:

fuse k + juma- to guma- fuse q + juma- to ruma-

 

after q:

ani-

Verb Root

go out I want to go out

 

anijumajunga

ingit-

Verb Root

sit down I want to sit down

ingittumajunga

sinik-

Verb Root

sleep I want to sleep

 

sinigumajunga

utiq-

Verb Root

return I want to return

utirumajunga

Syllabics:

ᐊᓂ-

ᐃᖏᑦ-

ᓯᓂᒃ-

ᐅᑎᖅ -

ᐊᓂᔪᒪᔪᖓ

ᐃᖏᑦᑐᒪᔪᖓ

ᓯᓂᒍᒪᔪᖓ

ᐅᑎᕈᒪᔪᖓ

You would be forgiven to think that if you memorized that pattern you could apply it to all the other multiple Uvular Alternators, but unfortunately they are unpredictable. Look at these two sets of verb endings. Notice that despite the obvious similarities they have different forms for Verb Stems ending in t.

I'll spare you the examples. The pattern is all we are after.

-gama/nama/kama/rama

verb ending

because I Becausative, nonspecific 1st person singular

Uvular Alternator after vowels:

add -gama

after t:

nasalize the t to n: add -nama

after k:

add kama to the stem, retaining the original k

after q:

fuse q + gama to rama

-guma/kuma/kuma/ruma

Uvular Alternator

verb ending

if I Conditional, nonspecific 1st person singular

after vowels:

after t:

after k:

after q:

add -guma change the t to k: add -kuma add kuma to the stem, retaining the original k fuse q + guma to ruma

7: Vowel Heads

At first sight any affix that begins with a vowel seems to be simply a deleter. Take the affix which would seem to be -innaq(-). I call it a double chunk, since it acts as both noun chunk and verb chunk (hence the bracketed dash).

Don't get tangled up in its meaning: it's very subtle.

siku

sikuinnaq

(it's) all ice

qungattuq

qungainnaqtuq

she hasn't stopped smiling

inuk

inuinnaq

a total person

imiqtuq

imiinnaqtuq

he hasn't stopped drinking

However, there is a potential problem lying in ambush. Remember: the syllabic structure of Inuktitut (C)V(V)(C) prohibits a succession of three vowels. So if you want to say a total qallunaaq or you want to use the verb tuksiaq- to say he hasn't stopped praying you will face a problem:

qallunaaq

*qallunaainnaq

a total qallunaaq

tuksiaqtuq

*tuksiainnaqtuq

she hasn't stopped smiling

The answer, in this case, is insertion. We insert the sound ŋ to break up the sequence.

qallunaaq

qallunaa ŋ innaq

tuksiaqtuq

tuksia ŋ innaqtuq

-( ŋ )innaq(-)

double chunk

nc: total vc: still engaged in

Vowel Head delete final consonant, then insert ŋ after two vowels

ŋ is not the only sound used to break up the three-vowel sequence:

-(ra)aluk

noun chunk

large, big (often used pejoratively)

Vowel Head delete final consonant, then insert ra after two vowels

qimmiq

qimmialuk

a (nasty) big dog

ᕿᒻᒥᖅ

ᕿᒻᒥᐊᓗᒃ

qallunaaq

qallunaaraaluk

a (nasty) big qallunaaq

ᖃᓪᓗᓈᖅ

ᖃᓪᓗᓈᕌᓗᒃ

umiaq

boat

ᐅᒥᐊᖅ

umiarjuaq

big boat, ship

ᐅᒥᐊᕐᔪᐊᖅ

umiarjuaraaluk

big ship

ᐅᒥᐊᕐᔪᐊᕌᓗᒃ Insertion is not the only solution used by Vowel Heads to avoid three-vowel sequences. In some cases Vowel Heads go to the extreme of Self-Decapitation. Here is the affix for the plural ending:

-it

plural marker

plural

Vowel Head delete final consonant, then delete the i of -it after two vowels

tuktu

tuktuit

caribou (pl)

ᑐᒃᑐ

ᑐᒃᑐᐃᑦ

inuk

inuit

people

ᐃᓄᒃ

ᐃᓄᐃᑦ

qimmiq

qimmiit

dogs

ᕿᒻᒥᖅ

ᕿᒻᒦᑦ

umiaq

umiat

boats

ᐅᒥᐊᖅ

ᐅᒥᐊᑦ

A final affix to slip in here would be the dual marker for nouns, which has its own morphological charm.

-*k

dual marker

dual

Vowel Head delete final consonant, then *Indicates "double the vowel, unless there already are two."

inuk

inuuk

two people

ᐃᓄᒃ

ᐃᓅᒃ

tupiq

tupiik

two tents

ᑐᐱᖅ

ᑐᐲᒃ

umiaq

umiak

two boats

ᐅᒥᐊᖅ

ᐅᒥᐊᒃ

That finishes the section on Morphophonology in general. Now we should take a look at some of the systematic differences among dialects.

G: SYSTEMATIC DIALECTAL DIFFERENCES

This sketch map gives a general idea of the position and relationship of the dialects. Note that Aivilik is very close to North Baffin, and South Baffin to both East Baffin and Nunavik.

Baffin, and South Baffin to both East Baffin and Nunavik. Now we'll look at some of

Now we'll look at some of the differences.

Vocabulary: Obviously we're not going to take the time to list the different vocabulary items.

Such differences are almost all arbitrary.

Grammar: The differences in grammar, i.e., in morphology and syntax, are minor, and mostly arbitrary.

Phonology: Oh yes, indeed.

Static Differences in Phonology

Nasalizing word final consonants

Many speakers, mostly older, more in the west than in the east, tend to nasalize final consonants, especially t.

basic form:

inuit

people

nasalized:

inuin

the phoneme /s/ and its western equivalent /h/

Kivalliq, Natsilingmiutut and Inuinnaqtun dialects substitute /h/ for /s/. Because we have the letter h available in a roman alphabet, it is used in the roman orthography. Since the substitution is automatic, it should not be necessary to create a different syllabic symbol, so to my mind, these are perfectly acceptable transcriptions, with the readers pronouncing the syllabics as their dialect prompts them to. (Some of my Western students disagree, they want a phonetic representation in syllabics as well as roman.)

Eastern:

siniktuq

people

Western:

hiniktuq

the allophone [b]

Aivilik, Kivalliq, Natsilingmiutut and Inuinnaqtun dialects have the allophone [b] before /l/. Once again, since we have the letter b available in a roman alphabet, it is used in roman. In syllabics we are a little more subtle. We use the p final , and assume automatic voicing. Thus:

Western:

kublu

thumb

Eastern:

kullu

the glottal stop [ ʼ ]

Several dialects have a glottal stop. However the original phoneme it replaces varies from dialect to dialect. Many writers simply use the original phoneme: others use the apostrophe in both roman and syllabics.

Nunavik (Hudson Bay):

original q

tupirmi

tupiʼ mi

in a tent

ᑐᐱᕐᒥ

ᑐᐱ ˈ

Baker Lake (Kivalliq):

original q Qamanittuaq Qamani ʼ tuaq Baker Lake

ᖃᒪᓂᑦᑐᐊᖅ

ᖃᒪᓂˈᑐᐊᖅ

Natsilingmiutut seems to glottalize ŋ in verb endings. (I haven't finished studying this):

 

naalangmat

naala ʼ mat

because he listens

ᓈᓚᖕᒪᑦ

ᓈᓚˈᒪᑦ

But

 

niuvirvingmi

niuvirvingmi

in the store

ᓂᐅᕕᕐᕕᖕᒥ

ᓂᐅᕕᕐᕕᖕᒥ

Now we should start to look at the processes that have the greatest effects on dialectal differences, and on the pattern of usage of finals.

Assimilation of Place and Flow

We have concentrated on Regressive Assimilation of Manner, as it is the key process in Inuktitut Morphophonology. However, there is also Assimilation of Place.

labial

alveolar

palatal

velar

uvular

p

t

k

q

s ɬ

v

l

j

g

r

m

n

ŋ

Assimilation of Place

Consider the English expression in + tolerant, which comes out as intolerant,. Note that the n and the t are both in the alveolar column. Now consider the same structure, but with a different base in + possible. The n is still the same alveolar, but the p is labial. If we apply regressive assimilation of place, we get a labial nasal, m, to give us impossible.

In South Baffin and in Nunavik, the sequence ts exists as in natsiq seal. But the sequences ps and ks are subject to regressive assimilation of place, as in:

original

SB / Nunavik

natsiq

natsiq

seal

ᓇᑦᓯᖅ

ᓇᑦᓯᖅ

takugapsi

takugatsi

because you (pl) see

ᑕᑯᒐᑉᓯ

ᑕᑯᒐᑦᓯ

iksivautaq

itsivautaq

chair

ᐃᒃᓯᕙᐅᑕᖅ

ᐃᑦᓯᕙᐅᑕᖅ

Assimilation of Flow

By Assimilation of Flow I mean assimilation from stop to fricative, or vice versa. This is not very common, and in the example I am about to give it has no effect on the writing system, but we should dispose of it, if only for the sake of symmetry. Here is the table for voiceless consonants in Inuinnaqtun, including the fricative allophones, in square brackets. Note that in the Inuinnaqtun dialect the phoneme h replaces the phoneme s, and also the phoneme ɬ .

Inuinnaqtun Voiceless Consonants Stops labial alveolar palatal velar uvular aspirated k p t Voiceless Fricatives
Inuinnaqtun Voiceless Consonants
Stops
labial alveolar palatal velar uvular aspirated
k
p
t
Voiceless
Fricatives
[f]
[x]
q
[ χ ]
h

Here is one of the basic participles compared with its Inuinnaqtun equivalent. Note the Regressive Assimilation of Flow: stop to fricative: the voiceless velar stop /k/ becomes the voiceless velar fricative [x].

basic form

Inuinnaqtun form (as written)

(as pronounced)

pisuk ɬ uni

pihukhuni

[pihuxhuni]

she / walking

North Baffin has a reverse example equivalent: Progressive Assimilation of Flow: fricative to stop:

basic form

North Baffin form

natsiq

nattiq

seal

Now we're ready for Gemination

Gemination

Gemination means complete Assimilation. In Gemination one consonant becomes identical to its neighbour. We're going to give you a table indicating the spread of Gemination across the Nunavut and Nunavik dialects, increasing from west to east to south. We'll use these symbols in the table:

labC

a consonant cluster in which the first consonant is labial:

e.g., pk vv mn

alvC

a consonant cluster in which the first consonant is alveolar:

e.g., tp lv nm

velC

a consonant cluster in which the first consonant is velar:

e.g., kt gj ŋ n

uvuC

a consonant cluster in which the first consonant is uvular:

e.g., qt rl rm Note: If the second consonant is a voiceless fricative, then the patterns will be more complex than shown here.

Here is the table. means the cluster exists as shown. gem means the cluster is regressively geminated.

 

West

Aivilik

North Baffin

South Baffin / Nunavik

labC

gem

gem

alvC

gem

gem

gem

velC

gem

uvuC

And here is a partial table for clusters involving fricatives.

basic form

North Baffin

South Baffin / Nunavik

ps

ss

ts

ts

tt

ts

ks

ks

ts

As we give examples of these forms you can begin to see the effect on the pattern of finals in the different dialects. Dialects with a high proportion of geminates have obviously a smaller proportion of mixed clusters.

 

West

Aivilik

N. Baffin

S. Baffin / Nunavik

labC

takugapku

takugapku

takugakku

takugakku

ᑕᑯᒐᑉᑯ

ᑕᑯᒐᑉᑯ

ᑕᑯᒐᒃᑯ

ᑕᑯᒐᒃᑯ because I see her

ublumi

ublumi

ullumi

ullumi

ᐅᑉᓗᒥ

ᐅᑉᓗᒥ

ᐅᓪᓗᒥ

ᐅᓪᓗᒥ

 

today

 

uvamnut

uvamnut

uvannut

uvannut

ᐅᕙᒻᓄᑦ

ᐅᕙᒻᓄᑦ

ᐅᕙᓐᓄᑦ

ᐅᕙᓐᓄᑦ

 

to me

alvC

tikitpa?

tikippa?

tikippa?

tikippa?

ᑎᑭᑦᐸ ?

ᑎᑭᑉᐸ?

ᑎᑭᑉᐸ?

ᑎᑭᑉᐸ? has she arrived?

milvik

mivvik

mivvik

mivvik

ᒥᓪᕕᒃ

ᒥᕝᕕᒃ

ᒥᕝᕕᒃ

ᒥᕝᕕᒃ

 

landing strip

 

tikinmat

tikimmat

tikimmat

tikimmat

ᑎᑭᓐᒪᑦ

ᑎᑭᒻᒪᑦ

ᑎᑭᒻᒪᑦ

ᑎᑭᒻᒪᑦ because he's arrived

velC

auktuq

auktuq

auktuq

auttuq

ᐊᐅᒃᑐᖅ

ᐊᐅᒃᑐᖅ

ᐊᐅᒃᑐᖅ

ᐊᐅᑦᑐᖅ it has melted

iglu

iglu

iglu

illu

ᐃᒡᓗ

ᐃᒡᓗ

ᐃᒡᓗ

ᐃᓪᓗ

 

house

 

inungnut

inungnut

inungnut

inunnut

ᐃᓄᖕᓄᑦ

ᐃᓄᖕᓄᑦ

ᐃᓄᖕᓄᑦ

ᐃᓄᓐᓄᑦ

 

to people

uvuC

No need to fill this in. Only Labrador ever geminates uvulars.

Now you can see some of the effects on the syllabic system:

North Baffin is the only dialect that needs final s , and then only in geminates from original ps: takugapsi because you (pl) see becomes takugassi: ᑕᑯᒐᑉᓯ ᑕᑯᒐᔅᓯ .

South Baffin & Nunavik only use all the other final symbols (except q and r ) in doubles or geminates, or at the end of words. These two dialects also have a high proportion of ts ᑦᓯ ᑦᓱ ᑦᓴ.

In all dialects the only words ending in p are nouns with the possessive noun ending -up.

The western dialects and Aivilik are the only ones that use a medial p, either to indicate the voiceless phoneme p as in takugapsi because you (pl) see ᑕᑯᒐᑉᓯ , or, in syllabics, to indicate the automatically voiced allophone b as in kublu thumb ᑯᑉᓗ.

Two dialectal peculiarities, an admission of failure, and then we're done.

TWO DIALECTAL PECULIARITIES

One of these peculiarities does not affect the syllabic system at all, but would affect any kind of spelling checker or word generator that might conceivably be developed later (much later?)

Nunavik's Law of Double Consonants (LDC)

Nunavik refuses to permit a sequence of two consonant clusters. Any time this is about to occur, the first consonant of the second cluster is automatically deleted. This is a completely phonological process, and pays no heed to the underlying morphology.

The following three words express the same basic idea in the same structure, animal + hunt + he. Note the difference in the surface forms between South Baffin and Nunavik. We'll use tuttu caribou, aiviq walrus, and natsiq seal.

South Baffin

LDC

Nunavik

tuttusiuqtuq

does not apply

tuttusiuqtuq

tuttusiuqtuq

intervening s breaks sequence

tuttusiuqtuq

natsiqsiuqtuq

natsi*siuqtuq

natsisiuqtuq

natsiqsiuqtuq

natsisiuqtuq

aiviqsiuqtuq

aiviqsiu*tuq

aiviqsiutuq

aiviqsiuqtuq Effect of "ghostly consonants"

aiviqsiutuq

Even after a consonant has been deleted by the LDC its ghost continues to wheel its phonological barrow. Compare these forms with the verbs sallu- lie (tell untruth), which ends in a vowel, and aullaq- depart, which ends in the uvular consonant q.

sallujuq

Consonant Alternator:

-juq after vowels

he lies

aullatuq

she departs

-tuq after the ghost of a consonant

sallugumajuq

Uvular Alternator (S.B. / Nunavik forms):

-guma- after vowels

he wants to lie

aullarumajuq

she wants to depart

-ruma- after the ghost of a uvular consonant

The extra phoneme of Natsilingmiutut

Natsilingmiutut, with other western dialects, substitutes h for s. I have already mentioned that although some speakers want their own syllabic symbol for that sound, in strict linguistic theory it is unnecessary. The fortuitous existence of the letter h in roman is irrelevant.

pisuktuq

pihuktuq

she walks

Local opinion may overcome linguistic pedantry, but that is a minor matter.

However

Natsilingmiutut is the only Canadian dialect to retain the difference between the voiced palatal phoneme j and the retroflex phoneme ɟ. In all other dialects these two have merged to j. I don't know this dialect well, but I have not found a minimal pair, where the only difference in meaning comes from a contrast in these two sounds, (like pet and bet in English.) However the occurrence of j and ɟ is not predictable:

iji

taku ɟuq

I don't know how seriously this problem is going to be regarded, but it exists.

H: MY BLUNDER

It's a long story, but I'll shorten it. Back in 1976, at the ICI standardization conference, because of my belief that it was a good idea to mirror the Assimilation of Manner in the orthography, it was decided to use q for the first consonant in voiceless clusters, and r for the first consonant in voiced and nasal clusters.

That was a mistake. That particular distinction does not come natural to Inuit writers, (possibly because of the non-phonemic status of [ɴ ].) Public signs, newspaper articles, government publications, children's literature produced by the Department of Education, all are littered with qs where there should be rs, and rs where there should be qs.

Kativik did the right thing in switching to the use of rs medially, with qs left for word initial and word final. When things settle down, maybe Nunavut will make that change. It won't affect the keyboard or the fonts, but it will reduce spelling errors among the otherwise literate by about 30%.