Inuktitut Language


Terminology database

Terms that have been discussed in workshops are added to a database of about 10,000 words, created with File-Maker Pro software. A collection of terms in danger of disappearing has also been added, principally through the effort of Davidie Niviaxie of Umiujaq.

The database can be sorted and searched by word in both Inuktitut and English. Whenever possible, definitions in both these languages are included. There is still work to be done in specialized fields, which is a complex task because the spirit/logic/thinking/approach underlying the Inuktitut language is quite different from Western thought, and this especially complicates the classification of Inuktitut terms.

The database requires ongoing updating, correction and improvement. A CD version has already been released (2003), but the paper version is still the most popular.

The next phase of work on the database will involve integrating voiced pronunciation into the files. A campaign will soon get underway to record the correct pronunciation of words and phonemes, because spoken usage is deteriorating among younger generations. In addition, discussions are underway to do a collaboration with Termium Plus using the computerized database of Public Works Canada.

Terminology workshops

The main goal of these workshops is to develop new terminology and recuperate old words that are falling out of use. The workshops are conducted as discussions between groups of resource people (Elders from the three coasts) and a group of translators/interpreters. The most recent workshop was held in Kangirsualujjuaq in April 2006. Negotiations have begun with the Department of Justice to improve judicial terminology by holding one or more workshops and updating the lexicon.

Promotional activities

Avataq regularly distributes products in the region to remind Nunavimmiut of the importance of using Inuktitut in their daily life. Over the years, these promotional items have included pens, balloons, magnets and key rings. These small reminders are a modest effort in support of the programme’s long-term goals. Avataq is considering other promotional activities through the Martha-Kauki Foundation and the Inuktituurniup Saturtauninga Project.