Grammar » locations

This grammar note is available in the South Qikiqtaaluk dialect only.

English speakers can become overwhelmed by the many words used in Inuktitut to describe locations. Fortunately, they follow patterns that can be mastered with some practice.

1. It is important to understand that Inuktitut speakers use different words to indicate a person or an object is in a specific spot versus a general area. Let’s look at the following pairs of terms:

uvani(right) here
maani around here
  
ikaniover there (specific spot)
avani
over there (general area)
  
pikani
up there (specific spot)
paani
up there (general area)
  
kanani
down there (specific spot)
unani
down there (general area)

There are no set rules that will help you to decide when to use one term over the other. A lot depends on context. For example, both uvani / maani could refer to very large areas:

uvaniright here (in Iqaluit)
vs. 
maani
here (in Nunavut)

 

or they could each refer to much smaller spaces:

uvaniright here in this spot
vs. 
maani
in this building

 The best advice is to learn these terms as pairs and then listen carefully to fluent speakers to hear how they are used in coversation.

2. These locational words will often be heard with the prefix ta- which indicates that a location has already been mentioned or implied in the conversation:

basic formwith ta-prefixEnglish equivalent
uvani
tavvani*right here
maani
tamaaniaround here
ikani
taikani over there (specific spot)
avani
taavaniover there (general area)
pikani
tapikaniup there (specific spot)
paani
tapaaniup there (general area)
kanani
takanani down there (specific spot)
unani
taunanidown there (general area)

 * pay attention to this word as it does not follow the same pattern as the others.  In the other words, ta- is added directly to the simple form, with no change in spelling.

3. The next level of complexity is that these terms are also used to describe motion. For this lesson, we will just look at how these words can be used to describe motion towards a place. If you refer to the terms listed above, you will notice that they all end with the affix -ni , meaning that the person/object described is in or at a place.

To talk about motion towards a specific spot we replace the -ni ending with -unga:

towards a locationEnglish equivalent
tavvunga
to here (specific spot)
tamaungato here (more general area)
taavunga
to there (specific spot)
taikunga
to there (more general area)
tappikunga up to there (specific spot)
tappaunga
up there (general area)
takanunga
down to there (specific spot)
taununga
down to there (more general area)