Grammar » 39 » If and when...

Inuktut has a series of endings to talk about events that have not yet happened:

Uqaalaguvit, qailangajunga.
if / when you call, I will come.

 

Depending on the context, these endings can be translated in English as "when something happens..." or "if something happens..."

 

Inuktut does not make this distinction. Instead, these endings convey the idea that the events that they describe are not real because they have yet to take place.

uqaala - to call someone on the phone

 

uqaalaguma if/when I call
uqaalaguvit if/when you call
uqaalaguni* if/when he/she calls
uqaalappat if/when he/she calls
uqaalagunnuk if/when the two of us call
uqaalagutta if/when we (3+) call
uqaalagutsik if/when two of you call
uqaalagutsi if/when you (3+) call
uqaalagutik* if/when they (2+) call
uqaalappata if/when they (2+) call

Two of the above endings start with p-, the others start with g-. This is important because they behave differently as we will see below.

* -guni, and -gutik can only be used when the subject of the verb they are attached to is the same person who is the subject of the verb in the main sentence:

Qaiguni, mumiriarunnarniaqtuq.
If she comes, she will be able to go dancing.

This sentence only works if the person who is coming is the same person who will be able to go dancing.

If, on the other hand, we wanted to say:

If Ilisapi comes, Ani will be able to go dancing

we would have to say:

Ilisapii qaippat, Aita mumiriarunnarniaqtuq.

 

Adding these affixes to roots ending in -q:
The basic endings that begin with g- change to r-. The last consonant of the root is deleted:

Nattiruvit, niritsiarniaqtugut. Quvianalaarmijualuk ammuumajjialirutta.
If you get a seal, we will eat well. It will be a lot of fun if/when we go clam digging.

The basic endings that begin with p- change to q-.

Aniniaqtunga 11-miinngaaliqqat. Pijariiqqata, qailangajut.
I will go out after 11. If/when they are finished, they will come.

Adding these affixes to roots ending in -t:
The basic endings that begin with g- change to k-. The last consonant of the root also changes to -k:

 Tikikkumaniuvirvimmuurniaqtunga.
 If/when I arrive, I will go to the store.

The basic endings that begin with -p are unchanged.  They delete the last consonant of the root:

Aullalaaqtugut ulippat.
We will depart when the tide is high.