Grammar » 15 » The Affix -mik

-mik and its plural form -nik are used very frequently in Inuktut and require a detailed explanation. Consider the following two sentences in English:

He bought the blue car. He bought a blue car.

In the first sentence, we are talking about a specific car that is known both to the person who is speaking and the person he is talking with. In the second sentence, the speaker refers to the car very generally. The exact car that was purchased is irrelevant to the conversation they are having.

In Inuktut, when we are speaking very generally about a person or a thing, we attach the affix-mik to the person or thing.

illumik takujuq. She sees a house.

Note, too, that -mik is added to words that describe the object:

Atausirmik illumik takujuq. She sees one house.
Quqsuqtumik illumik takujuq. She sees a yellow house.

When -mik is added to a noun ending in -q, it normally changes this -q to -r.  An exception, though, happens with the names of colours.  When -mik is added to a colour, it deletes final -q.

The dual form of -mik is -nik :

Quqsuqtuunnik pualuqaqtutit. You have two yellow mittens.

Note above how the word for yellow, quqsuqtuq, changes to quqsuqtuuk in the dual.

The plural form of -mik is also -nik :

Pingasunik qiturngaqaqtunga. I have three children.

In the above sentence, the speaker says very generally that she has three children. The person she is speaking to probably doesn't know the children or very much about them.

An easy way to learn -mik and -nik is to use them with numbers and colours

Ququsuqtumik nasaqsimajuq. He is wearing a yellow hat.
Tallimaniktuttunik takujunga. I see five caribou.

-mik is also used frequently with people's names:

Mialimik nulialik. He has a wife named Mary.

Note the spelling changes that happen with -mik and -nik are added to roots ending in consonants:

When -mik and -nik (plural) are added to stems that end in -q, they change the -q to -r:

surusiq child
surusirmik a child
surusirnik some children (3+)

In the South Qikiqtaaluk dialect, when -mik or -nik (dual or plural) are added to a stem ending in -k, the -k changes to match either the -m or -n that follows:

inuk person
inummik a person
inuunnik two people
inunnik some (3+) people

When -nik (plural) is added to a root ending in -t, it deletes the final -t:

tallimat five
talimanik five of something