ALANA JOHNS | PROFESSOR

THE LABRADOR INUIT WRITING SYSTEM


Like other Inuktitut dialects, the writing system of Labrador Inuttitut is relatively easy to learn because it is sound-based (unlike the English writing system which, due to historical reasons, is only partially sound based, e.g. the 'k' in knight is not pronounced but must be memorized). With practice, anyone can learn to write the words and sentences of Inuttitut based on what they hear. Hearing correctly is the tricky part. Speakers naturally hear the language correctly because they speak the language, even if they do not write it. All Inuttitut writing is based on how speakers pronounce the language. As a learner, you should listen to the speakers and try to write down exactly what the speakers say, using the symbols below. If the speakers can write, they will help you if you can't hear properly. If they can't write, do your best and be glad that you have speakers to listen to!

In the following section, I outline the symbols used in Labrador Inuttitut. The system works in general for Rigolet Inuttitut also. Where there are special Rigolet differences, these will be noted.

Consonants which are the same as in English:

Consonants which are different from English

Consonant Combinations

Unlike English, Inuttitut in all dialects have geminate or double consonants. These are pronounced by holding the consonant a little longer than a single one. In both northern Labrador and Rigolet you will find:

Mixed consonant combinations:

Here things get a little more complicated. In both northern Labrador and Rigolet you will hear the following:
In Rigolet only you will hear the following sets of mixed consonants. These are very similar to what you hear in dialects of Inuttitut to the west.

Vowels

Inuttitut vowels are pure vowels. There are three basic vowels which have long and short versions, making six altogether. This is pretty much the same across all Inuktitut dialects.
Short:
Long:
RESEARCH


PUBLICATIONS


INUKTITUT LEARNING


HOME