Writing system

The writing systems or orthographies of Inuktitut are also varied but based on similar linguistic properties. Most outsiders have seen the syllabic writing system but there are a number of roman-based writing systems which are used as well. Different dialects sometimes have different orthographies. The best description of the history and explanation of the different Inuit writing systems was written by Kenn Harper. The differences between writing systems can sometimes give the appearance that the dialects are more different than they really are. In fact, when you listen to the spoken or oral language, the similarities become more clear. The oral language is the lifeblood of each and every language. Without it, a language is not alive. A language can be alive without a writing sytem. Human language is essentially an oral phenomenon. Writing, although it is very useful, has been added on to it. Children learn naturally to speak the spoken language around them. Writing must be learned through teaching. As I discuss each dialect or dialect region, I will introduce aspects of the writing system used in that area.

Advice to those printing Inuktitut in syllabics in magazines or on the web:

Make the fonts bigger!

Some Inuit are telling me that they read the English rather than the Inuktitut. Of course this also depends on the quality of the Inuktitut.

Alana Johns

tel: 416-978-1761
email: ajohns [at] chass [dot] utoronto [dot] ca

Department of Linguistics
University of Toronto