Welcome! (addressing 1 person)
What's your name?
What is his / her name?
Where are you from?
I'm from Iqaluit.
I'm from Ottawa.
eating, I am...
eating, you (1) are...
eating, she/he is...
eating, we (2) are...
eating, we (3+) are...
eating, you (2) are...
eating, you (3+) are...
eating, they (2) are...
eating, they are (3+)...
In Inuktut, the basic units of meaning are roots, affixes and grammatical endings.
|aullaq-||to depart; leave town|
Roots that describe nouns (people, places, animals or objects) sometimes appear on their own:
|inuk||an Inuk; a person|
Generally, though, words are built in Inuktut by attaching affixes and endings to a root.
Here are three simple noun endings:
|-mi||in / at a place|
|-mut||to a place|
|-mit||from a place|
We can add these endings to a noun root to create a word:
|sijjami||at the shoreline|
|sijjamut||to the shoreline|
|sijjamit||from the shoreline|
Verb endings are attached to verb roots that describe actions. Here are three simple verb endings:
|-tuq||she / he / it|
If we add different endings to the same root, we get different meanings:
|aullaqtunga||I am departing.|
|aullaqtutit||You are departing.|
|aullaqtuq||He / she is departing.|
Affixes are pieces of words that appear between the root and the ending. They can never begin a word. Affixes add more information about the noun or verb that is described by the root.
For example -lauq- is a verb affix that indicates that an action happened in the past:
|aullalauqtuq||He / she departed.|
In Inuktut, it is possible to build up very long words by adding a series of affixes between the root and the ending. We can end up with single words that would take an entire sentence to say in English:
qangatasuukkuvimmuuriaqalaaqtunga I’ll have to go to the airport.
To introduce yourself, you can add the affix -u- to the end of your name followed by the verb ending -junga:
|Piita + u + junga = Piitaujunga||I am Peter; My name is Peter.|
The affix -u- means to be. When it is added to a root that ends in a -k or a -q, it deletes the final consonant:
|inuk + u + junga = inuujunga||I am Inuk.|
You can change the verb ending to -juq to talk about she or he:
|inuk + u + juq = inuujuq||He/she is Inuk|
Adding -u- to names coming from other languages like English, can sound quite awkward in Inuktut. If such a name ends in a vowel, it usually isn’t a problem:
|Susi + u + junga = Susiujunga||My name is Susie.|
But if the name ends in a consonant, -ngu- is used instead of -u- to make pronunciation easier:
|Charlesngujunga||My name is Charles.|
|Stewartngujunga||My name is Stewart.|
To ask someone their name, you start with the root kina, meaning who? You then add the affix -u- to the end of kina, followed by the question ending -vit?:
|kina + u + vit?||Susie.|
|kinauvit?||Who are you?|
The affix -miutaq- means, someone who comes from the place described by the root of the word:
|Iqalummiutaq||someone from Iqaluit|
|Kimmirummiutaq||someone from Kimmirut|
|Kinngarmiutaq||someone from Kinngait|
|Panniqtuurmiutaq||someone from Panniqtuuq|
|Qikiqtarjuarmiutaq||someone from Qikiqtarjuaq|
As we see in the above examples, -miutaq can appear at the end of a word. But we can also build onto it to talk about different people. We do this by adding the verb -u- to the the end of -miutaq- and follow it with a verb ending:
|Iqalummiutaujunga||I am from Iqaluit.|
|Qikiqtarjuarmiutaujunga||I am from Qikiqtarjuaq.|
We can easily change the verb ending to talk about different people:
|Iqalummiutaujuguk||We (2) are from Iqaluit.|
|Qikiqtarjuarmiutaujusi||You (3+) are from Qikiqtarjuaq.|
We can also add -miutaq- to the question root nami- (meaning where?) to create a question:
|nami + miutaq + u + vit? =||namimiutauvit?|
|Where are you from?|
Verb roots in Inuktut describe actions or states of being. The verb ending tells us who is performing the action.
In the above word, taku- describes the action of seeing and the verb ending –junga describes who is seeing.
By using different verb endings we can talk about different people doing the same action:
|nirijunga||I am eating.|
|nirijutit||You are eating.|
|nirijuq||He / she is eating.|
|nirijuguk||The two of us are eating.|
|nirijugut||We (3+) eating.|
|nirijusik||The two of you are eating.|
|nirijusi||You (3+) are eating.|
|nirijuuk||The two of them are eating.|
|nirijut||They (3+) are eating.|
The verb endings highlighted above in blue can be added to any root that ends in a vowel. Remember Inuktut has three vowels i, u and a.
If the root ends in any other letter, we change the j that begins each of these verb endings to t:
|uqalimaaqtunga||I am reading.|
|sinittuq||He/she is sleeping.|