1 Tunngasugit

Dialogue: Welcome

Tunngasuppunga.ᑐᙵᓱᑉᐳᖓ. Response to 'Tunngasugit', literally "I feel welcome."
Inuktituusuunguvit?ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑑᓲᖑᕕᑦ? Do you speak Inuktitut?
ii, mikijumik.ᐄ, ᒥᑭᔪᒥᒃ. Yes, a little bit.
Riitaujunga. Kinauvit? ᕇᑕᐅᔪᖓ. ᑭᓇᐅᕕᑦ? I'm Riita. What's your name?
Taivitiujunga.ᑕᐃᕕᑎᐅᔪᖓ. My name is Taiviti.


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+)...
understand (I...)


1 » The Basic Structure of Inuktut


In Inuktut, the basic units of meaning are roots, affixes and grammatical endings.

Roots involve basic vocabulary and always appear at the beginning of words in Inuktut. Here are some examples:
niri- to eat
aullaq- to depart; leave town
tupiq tent

Roots that describe nouns (people, places, animals or objects) sometimes appear on their own:

nuna land
inuk an Inuk; a person
natsiq ringed seal

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:

-tunga I
-tutit you
-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:

aullalauqtunga I departed.
aullalauqtutit You departed.
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.


2 » I am...

To introduce yourself, you can add the affix -u- to the end of your name followed by the verb ending -junga:

Piita Peter
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 Susie.
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?



3 » Where are you from?

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?



4 » Simple Verb Endings

Verb roots in Inuktut describe actions or states of being. The verb ending tells us who is performing the action.

takujunga I see.

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.