Grammar » locations

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

Inuktut speakers are precise when talking about where things are located.  There is a long list of locations to master.  The first thing to remember is that there are different workds to indicate a person or objects is in a specific spot versus a general area:

uvani (right) here
maani around here
   
ikani over 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:

uvani right here (in Iqaluit)
vs.  
maani here (in Nunavut)

 

or they could each refer to much smaller spaces:

uvani right 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 form with ta-prefix English equivalent
uvani tavvani* right here
maani tamaani around here
ikani taikani over there (specific spot)
avani taavani over there (general area)
pikani tapikani up there (specific spot)
paani tapaani up there (general area)
kanani takanani down there (specific spot)
unani taunani down 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 location English equivalent
tavvunga to here (specific spot)
tamaunga to 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)