Inuktitut 101

Disclaimer: This post has been sitting in my dashboard patiently waiting to be posted!  I thought I had it scheduled to go up immediately following my Northern Lights photos…but apparently it was just saved and not scheduled.  I’m down in Ontario for a bit as my mum had surgery on October 4th…and I’m taking care of her in her recovery phase. This is the first moment I’ve had some time to sit down and work on my blog. But enough about that…without any further ado here’s the post!

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For the last two weeks in September I was a student!  Pirurvik brought an Inuktitut Course to Pangnirtung. It was an Inuktitut as a Second Language course-the first level PIGIARVIKIt is designed to help people who have no background with Inuktitut to help learn the essentials of the language and work on correct pronunciation.  This website is also another great tool for helping people learn more about the language.  If you live in Iqaluit you can sign up to take this course over 12 weeks with two sessions a week for an hour and half.  Our course in Pang was a bit more intensive it was for 2 weeks…every morning for 3 hours!  We also had homework every night as well…but it was so worth it! Practice is everything when you are working on learning a new language.

inuktitut-class-sept-2013

Here is our class… (missing 3 people!) {Photo Credit: Joy from Life in Nunavut}

I was pretty stoked to be able to take part in this course. It was the first time since January of 2011 a language course was brought to Pangnirtung.  So for two weeks I went up to Pang’s Arctic College Campus for 3 hours every morning.  On day 1 my first shock was that it was 100% immersion…so all instruction was done in Inuktitut. To be honest my first reaction was “oh crap”.  But then I took a deep breath and went with it.  We had an extremely talented instructor we worked our way through our lessons…learning about basic conversations, talking about how we are feeling, the weather, questions about having tea and coffee…learning my department, and job title!  Plus other things along the way.  Our instructor was from Pang but has been living in Iqaluit…she just recently moved back to Pang. It was great because she was able to teach us lots of ‘local’ dialect…which is helpful when you are learning a language!

The Jerry Cans are a band from Iqaluit…they just released their first music video of their popular song, Mamuqtuq (which means Delicious!) It’s a song about the thrill of the seal hunt in the spring…and pretty catchy tune!  For the first time after listening to this song I realized that I understood more of what was being sung…it was a pretty awesome discovery! I suppose it is true that languages can be learned easily from music.

Languages have always been a bit of a struggle…added to the fact that I switch around letters and numbers that makes life a bit more interesting.  Especially when you are learning a language where little changes like that can make DRASTIC changes to the meanings of the words.  But the more class time I had and practice…slowly my Inuktitut skills improved.  I must admit I am in no way fluent.  BUT I understand so much more about how the language is put together.  It also helped increase my vocabulary.

My friends in Pang have been really helpful listening to me as I practice…and my hope is to continue to learn and practice what I know and gain new words! For now I can say this though: Inuktitusuungnujunga mikijumik (I can speak a little Inuktitut).

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5 thoughts on “Inuktitut 101

    1. Sarah on the Road Post author

      …it is a great video. It’s all about the thrill of a spring seal hunt. They go out in the morning, but no luck…then they go back out in the afternoon, but no luck… and then again in the evening. They are upset because they are hungry and have no coffee/tea/biscuits but then they get their seal and it’s delicious! 🙂

  1. Jean

    Keep at your language learning.

    As for little changes in proncunciation that can dramatically change word meaning, same applies for some other languages. Just tell yourself you’re not learning Chinese where it is intonation/close to singing.

    1. Sarah on the Road Post author

      Thanks for your comments Jean! I plan to keep learning…and Chinese is also one of those languages where a slight change in tone changes the meaning of the word! When I was working in Toronto years ago with families from China I tired to pick up some words and it was a challenge but worth it!

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