Inuktitut Tusaalanga Learn Inuktitut / Apprendre l’inuktitut

Pronunciation

The Inuit Language in most of Canada and in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) uses a phonetic writing system that (unlike English or French) faithfully represents on paper how words are actually pronounced. This makes the task of learning to pronounce new words much easier.

SIMPLE VOWELS

There are three basic vowel sounds in the Inuit Language, represented by the letters i, u & a in qaliujaaqpait (standardized roman orthography).  Go to the glossary and listen to simple vowel sounds in words like:

timiumiknuna

VOWELS plus Q and R

So far, pretty easy. But watch the letters q and r. When the vowels i or u appear before q or r, they tend to become softer.

In the glossary, click on the following words, listening carefully for the highlighted sounds:

iqaluit

irniq 

imiq
anijuqQurluq tuquqsuq

  LONG (DOUBLE) VOWELS

To get the rhythm of the language right, pay attention to the fact that some vowels are held longer than others. The written language marks these long vowel sounds with double vowels.

As each word below is read, focus on how long each vowel sound is pronounced.

In the glossary, click on the following words, listening carefully for the highlighted sounds:

aqsarniit   uumajuqataata  

VOWELS IN COMBINATION

Two vowels can also be put together to create a new sound.

amauti 

tiguaq

niaquq

aiviq  

niuvirvik 

tui  

  CONSONANTS: THE EASY ONES

The following consonants are pronounced the same way in both the Inuit Language and English.

 paa - tuktu - kamik - kiguti - matu - haakiq

nipi - Sanikiluaq - iqaluk - katimavik - uvanga (uvaŋa)

THE TRICKIER CONSONANTS

R

This sound is not made in English but is similar to the way r is pronounced in French or the j  in Spanish. It sounds like a slight gargle at the back of the throat.

 ArviatKimmirutnirijuq

   

ř

One dialect though, Nattiliŋmiut, also makes an r sound in some words that is similar to the English (retroflex) r.  To distinguish it from the r sound described above it is written ř.

With the Nattiliŋmiut dialect selected, you can click on these words in the glossary:

apiriřuqniriřuthanauřaaq