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Standardization of Inuit language debated


Delegates from across the four Inuit regions of Canada, as well as representatives from Greenland, and Alaska, attended a two-day summit organized by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami that discussed the future of the Inuktitut language.

There are 60,000 Inuit in Canada; 63 per cent of them speak their native language. Both the oral and written language varies among regions, with about 12 distinct dialects. The Inuit in Labrador and the western Arctic use roman orthography in their written language while Inuit in Nunavut and northern Quebec use syllabics — characters originally developed by missionaries for the Cree.

The gathering spoke on a variety of topics analyzing the importance of a unified language in an effort to form a framework for a new, standardized, written form of Inuktitut for all Inuit in Canada.

At the conclusion of the conference the Autausiq Inuktut Titirausiq task force recommended exploring roman orthography over syllabics. The group’s recommendations will be passed on to the National Committee on Inuit Education and submitted to delegates at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. However, local land claim organizations, language authorities, and governments will decide how to proceed further.