Greenlandic is an Eskimo–
Aleut language spoken by about 56,000
1 History 2 Classification 3 Phonology
3.1 Vowels 3.2 Consonants 3.3 Phonotactics 3.4 Prosody 3.5 Morphophonology
4.1.1 Morphosyntactic alignment 4.1.2 Word order 4.1.3 Coordination and Subordination 4.1.4 Obviation and switch-reference 4.1.5 Indefiniteness construction
188.8.131.52 Indicative and interrogative moods 184.108.40.206 Imperative and optative moods 220.127.116.11 Conditional mood 18.104.22.168 Causative mood 22.214.171.124 Contemporative mood 126.96.36.199 Participial mood
4.2.2 Derivation 4.2.3 Time reference and aspect 4.2.4 Noun incorporation
4.3.1 Pronouns 4.3.2 Case 4.3.3 Possession
5 Vocabulary 6 Orthography
6.1 Sample text
7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 Cited literature 11 Further reading 12 External links
Illustration 1: Distribution of Inuit language variants across the Arctic.
From the Danish colonization in the 1700s to the beginning of
Greenlandic home rule in 1979, Greenlandic experienced increasing
pressure from the Danish language. In the 1950s, Denmark's linguistic
policies were directed at strengthening Danish. Of primary
significance was that post-primary education and official functions
were conducted in Danish.
From 1851 to 1973, Greenlandic was written in a complicated
orthography devised by the missionary linguist Samuel Kleinschmidt. In
1973, a new orthography was introduced, intended to bring the written
language closer to the spoken standard, which had changed considerably
since Kleinschmidt's time. The reform was effective and in the years
following it, Greenlandic literacy received a boost.
Another development that strengthened the
Example of differences between the 3 main dialects
English Kalaallisut Inuktun Tunumiisut
humans inuit inughuit iivit
The most prominent Greenlandic dialect is West Greenlandic
(Kalaallisut), which is the official language of Greenland. The name
Ranges of West Greenlandic monophthongs on a vowel chart.
The Greenlandic three vowel system, composed of /i/, /u/, and /a/, is typical for an Eskimo–Aleut language. Double vowels are analyzed as two morae, so they are phonologically a vowel sequence and not a long vowel; they are also written as two vowels in the orthography. The only diphthong in the language is /ai/, which occurs only at the ends of words. Before a uvular consonant ([q] or [ʁ]), /i/ is realized allophonically as [e], [ɛ] or [ɐ], and /u/ is realized allophonically as [o] or [ɔ], and the two vowels are written e, o respectively (as in some orthographies used for Quechua and Aymara). /a/ becomes retracted to [ɑ] in the same environment. /i/ is rounded to [y] before labial consonants. /u/ is fronted to [ʉ] between two coronal consonants. The allophonic lowering of /i/ and /u/ before uvular consonants is shown in the modern orthography by writing /i/ and /u/ as ⟨e⟩ and ⟨o⟩ respectively before uvulars ⟨q⟩ and ⟨r⟩. For example:
/ui/ "husband" pronounced [ui]. /uiqarpuq/ "she has a husband" pronounced [ueqɑʁpɔq] and written ⟨ueqarpoq⟩.
/illu/ "house" pronounced [iɬːu]. /illuqarpuq/ "he has a house" pronounced [iɬːoqɑʁpɔq] and written ⟨illoqarpoq⟩.
Consonants Greenlandic has consonants at five points of articulation: labial, alveolar, palatal, velar and uvular. It does not have phonemic voicing contrast, but rather distinguishes stops from fricatives. It distinguishes stops, fricatives, and nasals at the labial, alveolar, velar, and uvular points of articulation.[note 2] The earlier palatal sibilant [ʃ] has merged with [s] in all but a few dialects. The labiodental fricative [f] is only contrastive in loanwords. The alveolar stop [t] is pronounced as an affricate [t͡s] before the high front vowel /i/. Often, Danish loanwords containing ⟨b d g⟩ preserve these, although this does not imply a change in pronunciation, for example ⟨baaja⟩ [paːja] "beer" and ⟨Guuti⟩ [kuːtˢi] "God"; these are pronounced exactly as /p t k/.
2. Consonants of Kalaallisut
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Stops /p/ ⟨p⟩ /t/ ⟨t⟩
/k/ ⟨k⟩ /q/ ⟨q⟩
Fricatives /v/ ⟨v⟩[note 3] /s/ ⟨s⟩ (/ʃ/)[note 4] /ɣ/ ⟨g⟩ /ʁ/ ⟨r⟩
Nasals /m/ ⟨m⟩ /n/ ⟨n⟩
/ŋ/ ⟨ng⟩ /ɴ/ ⟨rn⟩
/l/ ⟨l⟩ ⁓ [ɬ] ⟨ll⟩
A bilingual sign in Nuuk, showing the contrast between Danish and Kalaallisut. The sign translates to "parking forbidden for all vehicles".
The morphology of Greenlandic is highly synthetic and exclusively
suffixing, with the exception of a single highly limited and
fossilized demonstrative prefix. It creates very long words by means
of adding strings of suffixes to a stem.[note 5] In principle there is
no limit to the length of a Greenlandic word, but in practice words
with more than half a dozen derivational suffixes are not so frequent,
and the average number of morphemes per word is 3 to 5.[note 6]
The language employs around 318 inflectional suffixes and between four
and five hundred derivational ones.
There are few compound words, but lots of derivations. The grammar
employs a mixture of head and dependent marking: both agent and
patient are marked on the predicate and the possessor is marked on
nouns, while dependent noun phrases inflect for case. The
morphosyntactic alignment of
Verb Noun Particle
Word Oqar-poq "he says" Angut "A man" Naamik "No"
Gloss say-3p/IND[note 7] man.ABS No
The verb is the only word required to build a sentence. Since verbs inflect for number and person of both subject and object, the verb is in fact a clause itself. Therefore, clauses where all participants are expressed as free-standing noun phrases are rather rare. The following examples show the possibilities of leaving out these verbal arguments: Intransitive clause with no subject noun phrase:
Sini-ppoq "(S)he sleeps" sleep-3p/IND[note 8]
Intransitive clause with subject noun phrase:
Angut sinippoq "the man sleeps" man.ABS sleep-3p/IND
Transitive clause with no overt arguments:
Asa-vaa "(S)he loves him/her/it" love-3p/3p
Transitive clause with agent noun phrase:
Angut-ip asa-vaa "the man loves him/her/it" man-ERG love-3p/3p
Transitive clause with patient noun phrase:
Arnaq asa-vaa "(S)he loves the woman" woman.ABS love-3p/3p
Anda sini-ppoq "Anda sleeps" Anda.ABS sleep-3p/IND
Transitive with agent and object:
Anda-p nanoq taku-aa "Anda sees a bear" Anda.ERG bear-ABS see-3p/3p
Word order In transitive clauses where both object and subject are expressed as free noun phrases, basic, pragmatically neutral word order is AOXV / SXV, where X is a noun phrase in one of the oblique cases. This order is fairly free, though. Topical noun phrases occur at the beginning of a clause whereas new or emphasized information generally come last. This is usually the verb, but it can also be a focal subject or object as well. In spoken language also "afterthought" material or clarifications may follow the verb, usually in a lowered pitch. On the other hand, the noun phrase is characterized by a rigid order where the head of the phrase precedes any modifiers and the possessor precedes the possessum. In copula clauses the order is usually Subject-Copula-Complement.
Andap tujuuluk pisiaraa "Anda bought the sweater" Anda sweater bought A O V
An attribute appears after its head noun.
Andap tujuuluk tungujortoq pisiaraa "Anda bought the blue sweater" Anda sweater blue bought A O X V
An attribute of an incorporated noun appears after the verb:
Anda sanasuuvoq pikkorissoq "Anda is a skilled carpenter" Anda carpenter.IS skilled S V APP
Coordination and Subordination Syntactic coordination and subordination is done by combining predicates in the superordinate moods (indicative, interrogative, imperative, optative) with predicates in the subordinate moods (conditional, causative, contemporative and participial). The contemporative has both coordinative and subordinative functions depending on context. The relative order of the main clause and its coordinate or subordinate clauses is relatively free, and mostly subject to pragmatic concerns. Obviation and switch-reference The Greenlandic pronominal system includes a distinction known as obviation or switch-reference. There is a special so-called fourth person used to denote a third person subject of a subordinate verb or the possessor of a noun that is coreferent with the third person subject of the matrix clause. Below are examples of the difference between third and fourth person:
illu-a taku-aa "he saw his (the other man's) house" house-3POSS see-3p/3p
illu-ni taku-aa "he saw his own house" house-4POSS see-3p/3p
Ole oqar-poq tillu-kkiga "Ole said I had hit him (the other man)" Ole say-3p hit-I/3p
Ole oqar-poq tillu-kkini "Ole said I had hit him (Ole)" Ole say-3p hit-I/4p[note 9]
Eva iser-uni sini-ssaa-q "When Eva comes in she'll sleep" Eva come.in-4p sleep-expect-3p
Eva iser-pat sini-ssaa-q When Eva comes in (s)he'll sleep (someone else). Eva come.in-3p sleep-expect-3p
Indefiniteness construction There is no category of definiteness in Greenlandic, so the information whether participants are already known to the listener or new in the discourse is encoded by other means. According to some authors, morphology related to transitivity such as the use of the construction sometimes called antipassive or intransitive object conveys such meaning, along with strategies of noun incorporation of non-topical noun phrases. This view, however, is controversial. Active:
Piitap arfeq takuaa "Peter saw the whale" Peter-ERG whale see
Piitaq arfermik takuvoq "Peter saw (a) whale" Peter-ABS whale-INSTR see
Verbs The morphology of Greenlandic verbs is enormously complex. The two main processes are inflection and derivation. Inflectional morphology includes the processes of obligatory inflection for mood, person, and voice (tense/aspect is not an inflectional category in Kalaallisut). Derivational morphology modifies the meaning of verbs in a way similar to that expressed by adverbs in English. Derivational suffixes of this kind number in the hundreds. Many of these suffixes are so semantically salient that they are often referred to as postbases rather than suffixes, particularly in the American tradition of Eskimo grammar. Such semantically "heavy" suffixes may express concepts such as "to have", "to be", "to say", or "to think". The Greenlandic verb word consists of a root + derivational suffixes/postbases + inflectional suffixes. Tense and aspect is marked by optional suffixes that appear between the derivational and inflectional suffixes. Inflection Greenlandic verbs inflect for agreement with agent and patient, for mood and for voice. There are eight moods, of which four are used in independent clauses and four in subordinate clauses. The four independent moods are: indicative, interrogative, imperative, optative. The four dependent moods are causative, conditional, contemporative, and participial. Verbal roots can take transitive, intransitive or negative inflections, so that all eight mood suffixes have these three forms. The inflectional system is further complicated by the fact that transitive suffixes encode both agent and patient in a single morpheme, requiring up to 48 different suffixes to cover all possible combinations of agent and patient for each of the eight transitive paradigms. As some moods do not have forms for all persons (imperative only has 2nd person, optative only 1st and 3rd person, participial mood has no 4th person and contemporative has no 3rd person), the total number of verbal inflectional suffixes is about 318. Indicative and interrogative moods The indicative mood is used in all independent expository clauses. The interrogative mood is used for posing questions. Questions with the question particle immaqa "maybe" cannot use the interrogative mood.
napparsima-vit? "Are you sick?" (interrogative mood) be.sick-YOU/INTERR
naamik, napparsima-nngila-nga. "No, I am not sick" (indicative mood) no, be.sick-NEG-I/IND
Table 5 shows the intransitive indicative inflection for patient
person and number of the verb neri- "to eat" in the indicative and
interrogative moods (question marks mark interrogative
intonation—questions have falling intonation on the last syllable as
opposed to most
5. Indicative and interrogative intransitive moods
nerivunga "I am eating" nerivunga? "Am I eating?"
nerivutit "You are eating" nerivit? "Are you eating?"
nerivoq "He/she/it eats" neriva? "Is he/she/it eating?"
nerivugut "We are eating" nerivugut? "Are we eating?"
nerivusi "You are eating (pl.)" nerivisi? "Are you eating? (pl.)"
neripput "They are eating" nerippat? "Are they eating?"
Table 6 shows the transitive indicative inflection for patient person and number of the verb asa- "to love" (an asterisk means that this form does not occur as such but would have to use a different reflexive inflection).
6. Transitive indicative mood
First person subject Second person subject Third person subject
* asavarma "You love me" asavaanga "He/she/it loves me"
asavakkit "I love you" * asavaatit "He/she/it loves you"
asavara "I love him/her/it" asavat "You love her/him/it" asavaa "He/she/it loves him/her/it"
* asavatsigut "You love us" asavaatigut "He/she/it loves us"
asavassi "I love you (pl.)" * asavaasi "He/she/it loves you (pl.)"
asavakka "I love them" asavatit "You love them" asavai "He/she/it loves them"
Imperative and optative moods The imperative mood is used to issue orders. It is always combined with the second person. The optative is used to express wishes or exhortations and is never used with the second person. There is a negative imperative form used to issue prohibitions. Both optative and imperative have transitive and intransitive paradigms. There are two transitive positive imperative paradigms: a standard one, and one that is considered rude and is usually used to address children.
sini-git! "Sleep!" sleep-IMP
sini-llanga "Let me sleep!" sleep-1p.OPT
sini-nnak! "Don't sleep!" sleep-NEG.IMP
Conditional mood The conditional mood is used to construct subordinate clauses with the meaning "if" or "when".
seqinner-pat Eva ani-ssaa-q "If the sun shines, Eva will go out" Sunshine-COND Eva go.out-expect/3p
Causative mood The causative mood (sometimes called the conjunctive) is used to construct subordinate clauses with the meaning "because", "since" or "when"; it is also sometimes used with the meaning of "that". The causative is also used in main clauses to imply some underlying cause.
qasu-gami innar-poq "He went to bed because he was tired" be.tired-CAU/3p go.to.bed-3p
matta-ttor-ama "I've eaten blubber (that's why I'm not hungry)" blubber-eat-CAU/I
ani-guit eqqaama-ssa-vat teriannia-qar-mat "If you go out, remember that there are foxes" go.out-COND/YOU remember-fut-IMP fox-are-CAUS
Contemporative mood The contemporative mood is used to construct subordinate clauses with the meaning of simultaneity. It is only used if the subject of the subordinate clause and of the main clause are identical. If they differ, the participial mood or causative mood are used. The contemporative can also be used to form complement clauses for verbs of speaking or thinking.
qasu-llunga angerlar-punga "Being tired, I went home" be.tired-CONT.I go.home-I
98-inik ukio-qar-luni toqu-voq "Being 98 years old, he/she died", "he/she was 98 when he/she died" 98-INSTR.PL year-have-CONT.4p.SG die-3p
Eva oqar-poq kami-it akiler-lugit "Eva said she had paid for the boots" Eva say-3p boot-PL pay-CONT.3p.PL
Participial mood The participial mood is used to construct a subordinate clause describing its subject in the state of carrying out an activity. It is used when the matrix clause and the subordinate clause have different subjects. It is often used in appositional phrases such as relative clauses.
atuar-toq taku-ara "I saw her read/I saw that she read" read-PART/3p see-I/3p
neriu-ppunga tiki-ssa-soq "I hope he is coming/I hope he'll come" hope-I come-expect-PART/3p
Derivation Verbal derivation is extremely productive, and Greenlandic employs many hundreds of derivational suffixes. Often a single verb will use more than one derivational suffix, resulting in very long words. Below are given some examples of how derivational suffixes can change the meaning of verbs. -katap- "be tired of"
taku-katap-para "I am tired of seeing it/him/her" see-tired.of-I/3p
-ler- "begin to/be about to"
neri-ler-pugut "We are about to eat" eat-begin-WE
-llaqqip- "be proficient at"
erinar-su-llaqqip-poq "She is good at singing" sing-HAB-proficiently-3p
-niar- "plans to/wants to"
aallar-niar-poq "He plans to travel" travel-plan-3p
angerlar-niar-aluar-punga "I was planning to go home though" go.home-plan-though-I
sini-ngajap-punga "I had almost fallen asleep" sleep-almost-I
-nikuu-nngila- "has never"
taku-nikuu-nngila-ra "I have never seen it" see-never-NEG-I/3p
-nngitsoor- "not anyway/afterall"
tiki-nngitsoor-poq "He hasn't arrived after all" arrive-not.afterall-3p
Time reference and aspect Greenlandic grammar has morphological devices to mark a distinction between, for example, recent and distant past, but the use of these is not obligatory, and they should therefore rather be understood as parts of Greenlandic's extensive derivational system than as a system of tense markers. Rather than by morphological marking, fixed temporal distance is expressed by temporal adverbials:
toqo-riikatap-poq "He died long ago" die-long.ago-3p/IND nere-qqammer-punga "I ate recently" eat-recently-I/IND ippassaq Piitaq arpap-poq "Yesterday Peter was running." yesterday Peter-ABS run-3p/IND
All other things being equal and in the absence of any explicit adverbials, the indicative mood will be interpreted as complete or incomplete depending on the verbal aktionsart.
Piitaq arpap-poq "Peter runs" Peter-ABS run-3p/IND Piitaq ani-voq "Peter was gone out" Peter-ABS go.out-3p/IND
But if a sentence containing an atelic verbal phrase is embedded within the context of a past time narrative, it would be interpreted as past. Greenlandic has several purely derivational devices of expressing meaning related to aspect and aktionsart, e.g. sar expressing "habituality" and ssaar expressing "stop to". Next to these, there are at least two major perfect markers: sima and nikuu. sima can occur in several positions with obviously different function Rightmost position indicates evidential meaning, but this can be determined only if a number of suffixes are present.
tiki(t)-nikuu-sima-voq "Apparently, she had arrived" arrive-NIKUU-SIMA-3p/INT
With atelic verbs, there is a regular contrast between indirective evidentiality marked by sima and witnessed evidentiality marked by nikuu. Due to its evidential meaning, the combination of first person and sima sometimes is marked.
qia-sima-voq "He cried (his eyes are swollen)" cry-SIMA-3p/IND qia-nikuu-voq "He cried (I was there)" cry-NIKUU-3p/IND
In the written language and more recently also in the spoken language especially of younger speakers, sima and nikuu can be used together with adverbials referring to a particular time in the past. That is, they might arguably mark time reference, but not yet systematically. Just as Greenlandic does not systematically mark past tense, the language also does not have a future tense. Rather, it employs three different strategies to express future meaning:
suffixes denoting cognitive states that show an attitude about prospective actions.
e.g. Ilimaga-ara aasaq manna Dudley qujanar-tor-si-ffigi-ssa-llugu "I expect to get some fun out of Dudley this summer."
expect-I/3p/IND summer this Dudley be.fun-cn-get.from-expect-CONTEMPORATIVE/3p
inchoative suffixes creating telic actions which can then be understood as already having begun by virtue of the indicative mood.
e.g. Aggiuti-ler-para "I've started to bring him."
moods that mark the speech act as a request or wish.
e.g. Qimmi-t nirukkar-niar-nigik "Let us feed the dogs, ok?"
While the status of the perfect markers as aspect is not very controversial, some scholars have claimed that Greenlandic has a basic temporal distinction between future and non-future. Especially, the suffix -ssa and handful of other suffixes have been claimed to be obligatory future markers. However, at least for literary Greenlandic, these suffixes have been shown to have other semantics that can be used to refer to the future via the strategies just described. Noun incorporation There is also a debate in the linguistic literature whether Greenlandic has noun incorporation. This is because Greenlandic does not allow the kind of incorporation common in many languages in which a noun root can be incorporated into almost any verb to form a verb with a new meaning. On the other hand, Greenlandic does often form verbs that include noun roots. The question then becomes whether to analyse these verb formations as incorporation or as denominal derivation of verbs. Greenlandic has a number of morphemes that require a noun root as their host and which form complex predicates that correspond closely in meaning to what is often seen in languages that have canonical noun incorporation. Linguists who propose that Greenlandic does have incorporation argue that these morphemes are in fact verbal roots that must obligatorily incorporate nouns to form grammatical clauses. This argument is supported by the fact that many of the derivational morphemes that form denominal verbs work almost identically to canonical noun incorporation. They allow the formation of words with a semantic content corresponding to an entire English clause with verb, subject and object. Another argument is that the morphemes used to derive denominal verbs come from historical noun incorporating constructions that have become fossilized. Other linguists maintain that the morphemes in question are simply derivational morphemes that allow the formation of denominal verbs. This argument is supported by the fact that the morphemes cannot occur without being latched on to a nominal element. The examples below illustrate how Greenlandic forms complex predicates including nominal roots. qimmeq "dog" + -qar- "have" (+ -poq "3p")
qimme-qar-poq "She has a dog"
illu "house" + -'lior- "make"
illu-lior-poq "She builds a house"
kaffi "coffee" + -sor- "drink/eat"
kaffi-sor-poq "She drinks coffee"
puisi "seal" + -nniar- "hunt"
puisi-nniar-poq "She hunts seal"
allagaq "letter" + -si- "receive"
allagar-si-voq "She has received a letter"
anaana "mother" + -a- "to be"
anaana-a-voq "She is a mother"
Nouns Nouns are obligatorily inflected for case and number and optionally for number and person of possessor. Singular and plural are distinguished and 8 cases used: absolutive, ergative (relative), instrumental, allative, locative, ablative, prosecutive (also called vialis or prolative), and equative. Case and number are marked by a single suffix. Nouns can be derived from verbs or from other nouns by a number of suffixes, e.g. atuar- "to read" + -fik "place" becomes atuarfik "school" and atuarfik + -tsialak "something good" becomes atuarfitsialak "good school". The fact that the possessive agreement suffixes on nouns and the transitive agreement suffixes on verbs in a number of instances have similar or identical shapes has even resulted in the theory that Greenlandic has a distinction between transitive and intransitive nouns, parallel to the same distinction in the verbs.[note 10] Pronouns There are personal pronouns for first-, second-, and third-person singular and plural. These pronouns are optional as subjects or objects, but only when the verbal inflection refers to such arguments.
First person uanga uagut
Second person illit ilissi
Third person una uku
Personal pronouns are, however, necessary in the oblique case:
ilin-nut niri-qu-aa thou all. eat tell-to 3s-3s-indic. 'He told you to eat it'
Case The two grammatical core cases ergative and absolutive are used to express grammatical and syntactical roles of participant noun phrases. The oblique cases express information related to movement and manner.
3. Kalaallisut case endings
case singular plural
Absolutive -q/-t/-k/-Ø -(i)t
Ergative -(u)p -(i)t
Instrumental -mik -nik
Allative -mut -nut
Locative -mi -ni
Ablative -mit -nit
Prosecutive -kkut -tigut
Equative -tut -tut
angu-t neri-voq "The man eats" man-ABS eat-3p
angu-tip puisi neri-vaa "The man eats the seal" man-ERG seal-ABS eat-3p/3p
The instrumental case is versatile. It is used for the instrument with which an action is carried out, for oblique objects of intransitive verbs (also called antipassive verbs) and for secondary objects of transitive verbs.
nano-q savim-mi-nik kapi-vaa "He stabbed the bear with his knife" polar bear-ABS knife-his.own-INSTR stab-3p/3p
kaffimik tor-tar-poq "She usually drinks coffee" coffee-INSTR drink-usually-3p
Piitaq savim-mik tuni-vara "I gave Peter a knife" Peter-ABS knife-INSTR give-I/3p
It is also used to express the meaning of "give me" and for forming adverbs from nouns:
imer-mik! "(give me) water" water-INSTR
sivisuu-mik sinip-poq "He slept late" late-INSTR sleep-3p
The allative case describes movement towards something.
illu-mut "towards the house"
It is also used with numerals and the question word qassit to express the time of the clock, and in the meaning "amount per unit":
qassi-nut? – pingasu-nut. "When?" – "At three o'clock" when-ALL three-ALL
kiilu-mut tivi krone-qar-poq "It costs 20 crowns per kilo" kilo-ALL twenty crown-have-3p
The locative case describes spatial location:
illu-mi "in the house"
The ablative case describes movement away from something or the source of something:
Rasmussi-mit allagarsi-voq "He got a letter from Rasmus" Rasmus-ABL receive.letter-3p
tuttu-mit nassuk " (antler)horn from a rein-deer" rein.deer-ABL horn
The prosecutive case describes movement through something as well as the medium of writing or a location on the body. It is also used to describe a group of people such as a family as belonging to the modified noun.
matu-kkut iser-poq "He entered through the door" door-PROS enter-3p
su-kkut tillup-paatit? "Where (on the body) did he hit you?" where-PROS hit-3p/YOU
palasi-kkut "the priest and his family" priest-PROS
The equative case describes similarity of manner or quality. It is also used for deriving language names from nouns denoting nationalities, i.e. "like a person of x nationality [speaks]".
nakorsatut suli-sar-poq "he works as a doctor" doctor-EQU work-HAB-3p
4. Absolutive possessive inflection for weak nouns
Possessor Singular Plural
1st person Sg. illora "my house" illukka "my houses"
2nd person Sg. illut "your house" illutit "your houses"
3rd person Sg. illua "his house" illui "his houses"
4th person Sg. illuni "his own house" illuni "his own houses"
1st person Pl. illorput "our house" illuvut "our houses"
2nd person Pl. illorsi "your (pl) house" illusi "your (pl) houses"
3rd Person Pl. illuat "their house" illui "their houses"
4th person Pl. illortik "their own house" illutik "their own houses"
In Greenlandic possession is marked on the noun which agrees with the person and number of its possessor. The possessor is in the ergative case. There are different possessive paradigms for all of the different cases. Table 4 gives the possessive paradigm for the absolutive case of illu "house". Below are given examples of the use of the possessive inflection, the use of the ergative case for possessors and the use of fourth person possessors.
Anda-p illu-a "Anda's house" Anda-ERG house-3p/POSS
Anda-p illu-ni taku-aa "Anda sees his own house" Anda-ERG house-4p/POSS see-3p/3p
Anda-p illu-a taku-aa "Anda sees his (the other man's) house" Anda-ERG house-3p/POSS see-3p/3p
The orthography and vocabulary of the
Greenlandic vocabulary is mostly inherited from Proto-Eskimo–Aleut, but it has also taken a large number of loans from other languages, especially from Danish. Early loans from Danish have often become acculturated to the Greenlandic phonological system, for example the Greenlandic word palasi "priest" is a loan from the Danish "præst". But since Greenlandic has an enormous potential for the derivation of new words from existing roots, many modern concepts have Greenlandic names that have been invented rather than borrowed, e.g. qarasaasiaq "computer" which literally means "artificial brain". This potential for complex derivations also means that Greenlandic vocabulary is built on very few roots which combined with affixes come to form large word families. For example the root for "tongue" oqaq is used to derive the following words:
oqarpoq 'says' oqaaseq 'word' oqaluppoq 'speaks' oqaasilerisoq 'linguist' oqaasilerissutit 'grammar' oqaluttualiortoq 'author' oqaasipiluuppaa 'harangues him' oqaloqatigiinneq 'conversation' oqaatiginerluppaa 'speaks badly about him'
Lexical differences between dialects are often considerable. This is due to the earlier cultural practice of imposing taboo on words which had served as names for a deceased person. Since people were often named after everyday objects, many of these have changed their name several times because of taboo rules, causing dialectal vocabulary to diverge further. Orthography
ĸ in a Greenlandic–Danish dictionary from 1926
Greenlandic is written with the Latin script. The alphabet:
A E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V
To spell loanwords from other languages, especially from Danish and
English, the additional letters B, C, D, X, Y, Z, W, Æ,
Inuit grammar Inuit phonology
^ According to the Namminersornerullutik Oqartussat / Grønlands Hjemmestyres (Greenlands Home, official website): « Language. The official languages are Greenlandic and Danish... Greenlandic is the language [that is] used in schools and [that] dominates in most towns and settlements ». "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2008-12-13. ^ The uvular nasal [ɴ] is not found in all dialects and there is dialectal variability regarding its status as a phoneme (Rischel 1974:176–181) ^ ⟨ff⟩ is the way of writing the devoiced /vv/ geminate, otherwise ⟨f⟩ only occurs in loanwords. ^ /ʃ/ is found in some dialects, but not in the standard language. ^ For example the word Nalunaarasuartaatilioqateeraliorfinnialikkersaatiginialikkersaatilillaranatagoorunarsuarooq which means something like "Once again they tried to build a giant radio station, but it was apparently only on the drawing board" ^ Compare this with the English rate of slightly more than one morpheme per word. ^ This article uses the following abbreviations for grammatical terminology in the example glosses: IND: indicative mood; INT: intransitive; TR: transitive; ABS: Absolutive case; I: first person singular; WE: first person plural; YOU: second person; 3p: third person; 4p: reflexive/obviative person; ERG: ergative case; CONT: contemporative mood; POSS: possessor; INSTR: instrumental case; NEG: negative; INTERR: interrogative mood; IMP: imperative mood; OPT: optative mood; COND: conditional mood; CAU: causative mood; PL: plural. For affixes about which the precise meaning is the cause of discussion among specialists the suffix itself is used as gloss and its meaning must be understood from context: -SSA ( meaning either future/expectation), -NIKUU and -SIMA. ^ In glosses of examples in Greenlandic the abbreviation "3p" means "third person singular" and has the same meaning as the English third person pronouns he, she and it, but it does not carry any information about gender. ^ The abbreviation "4p" refers to the fourth or reflexive person. ^ For example the suffix with the shape -aa means "his/hers/its" when suffixed to a noun, but "him/her/it" when suffixed to a verb, likewise the suffix -ra either means "my" or "me" depending on whether it is suffixed on a verb or a noun.
^ Greenlandic at
Bittner, Maria (1987). "On the Semantics of the Greenlandic
Antipassive and Related Constructions" (PDF). International Journal of
American Linguistics. 53 (2): 194–231. doi:10.1086/466053. Archived
from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-06.
Bittner, Maria (1995). "Quantification in Eskimo". In Emmon W. Bach.
Quantification in natural languages. 2. Springer.
Bittner, Maria (2005). "Future discourse in a tenseless language".
Journal of Semantics. 12 (4): 339–388. doi:10.1093/jos/ffh029.
Bjørnum, Stig (2003). Grønlandsk grammatik (in Danish). Atuagkat.
Fortescue, Michael (1980). "Affix Ordering in West Greenlandic
Derivational Processes". International Journal of American
Linguistics. 46 (4): 259–278. doi:10.1086/465662.
Fortescue, Michael (1984). West Greenlandic. Routledge.
Fortescue, Michael (1991). "Switch reference anomalies and 'topic' in
west greenlandic: A case of pragmatics over syntax". In Jef
Verschueren. Levels of Linguistic Adaptation: selected papers of the
Fortescue, M. D. (1990). From the writings of the Greenlanders =
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Greenlandic.
Wikinews has related news: Category:Greenland
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Greenlandic language.
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