Grammar » 26 » Possessions & Relations

In English we have words that we put before nouns to indicate who they belong to:

my jacket your parka

In Inuktut, we add an affix to the end of the noun. The above would be translated:

jaikaga qulitaujait

The same endings can be used for possessions or relations:

ataataga my father
irniit your son

In English the words that indicate possession: my, your, our, etc. are fairly straightforward. There is only one form that we use before any noun, be it singular or plural:

my car my cars

In Inuktut, though, different endings are used depending on whether the thing that is possessed is singular, dual or plural.

 

ONE POSSESSION OR RELATION

illuga my house
illuit your (1) house
illunga his / her house
illuvuk our (2) house
illuvut our (3+) house
illusi your (2+) house
illungat their house

 

SOME TRICKIER DETAILS...

(i) For nouns that end in vowels, you just add the ending.

If these endings are added to a noun that ends in a consonant, the last consonant is deleted:

jaikak jacket
jaikaga my jacket
   
qimmiq dog
qimmisi your (2+) dog
   
allavvik office
allavvingat their office

 

(ii) -ga (my) has a second form, -ra, that is used after any noun that ends in -q:

nasaq hat
nasara my hat
   
qulitaujaq parka
qulitaujara my parka

(iii) For the Inuktut version of 'your' just add -t (instead of -it) to roots that end in two vowels:

tui shoulder
tuit your shoulder
   
qiluaq belt
qiluat your belt


TWO POSSESSIONS OR RELATIONS

kamiik two skin boots
kamiikkak my two skin boots
kamiikkik your (1) two skin boots
kamiingik his or her two skin boots
kamivuk our two skin boots
kamisik your (2+) two skin boots
kamingik their two skin boots
  • The last vowel sound in the root is lengthened before -kkak and -kkik to make pronunciation easier.
  • All dual endings delete the last consonant
  • The endings for “his / her” and “their” are the same. Context makes it clear who you are speaking of.

3+ POSSESSIONS OR RELATIONS

pualut mittens (3+)
pualukka my mittens (3+)
pualutit your (1) mittens (3+)
pualungit his or her mittens (3+)
pualuvut our mittens (3+)
pualusi your mittens (3+)
pualungit their mittens (3+)
  • All plural possessive endings delete the last consonant of roots they are added to.
  • The endings for “her/his” and “their” are the same. Context makes it clear who you are speaking of.

 

NAMING THE PERSON WHO POSSESSES SOMETHING

In English, when we want to name a person that something belongs to, we add an apostrophe + s to the person's name, followed by the object:

Mary's car Piita's dogs

 

In Inuktut, these three sentences would be written this way:

Mialiup nunasiutinga Piitaup qimmingit

 

  • Note that the affix -up is attached to the possessor's name, much like apostrophe + s is used in English.
  • the affix -nga is added to the person or thing that is possessed if it is singular; -ngik if it is dual; and -ngit if it is plural.
If -up is added to a root that ends in a consonant, it deletes the consonant:
Naullaq + up =  
Naullaup qullinga Naullaq's qulliq

 

Remember that in Inuktut you normally don't find more than two vowels in a row. So, if you delete the final consonant and the root ends in two vowels, just add p instead of -up:
qallunaaq + up =  
qallunaap illuralaanga the qallunaaq's cabin

 

-up works for more than just names. It can be added to any noun, as long as it is singular:

angutiup nasanga the man's hat
najaup kamingik the sister's kamiks
qimmiup umiangit the dog's tail