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 Language Learning Forum : Collaborative writing Post Reply
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ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 4858 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 1 of 15
23 January 2008 at 11:15pm | IP Logged 
I tried to be accurate, but as I haven't studied this language yet, some details may be wrong. If anyone can correct any errors or add any details, that'd be great. Any suggestions are welcome.

INTRODUCTION
Greenlandic - also known by it's native name Kalaallisut - is the language of roughly 54,000 Inuit in Greenland. Alomgside Danish, Greenlandic is the official language of the world's largest island and has both an extensive oral literature and a steadily growing written literature. Known , Western Greenlandic serves as the standard dialect, being officially spoken in the island's capital, Nuuk.

USEFULNESS
The usefulness of Greenlandic is really only restricted to Greenland, and even here there are dialects depending on where you travel to.
       
CHIC FACTOR     
It's difficult to say what the language's chic factor is, as many people have not even heard of it! As is with most "obscure", exotic languages, the chic factor for being able to speak Greenlandic would probably be quite high. Particularly so, as most Greenlanders are used to immigrants and visitors conversing in either Danish or English. In fact, many people of non-Greenlandic descent who move to Greenland never get past a few phrases, as Danish is so widespread.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE
Not of particularly enourmous economic value, unless you have business ties with Greenland of course. It could also be important in Denmark.

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES
Knowing Greenlandic will be of great value when travelling to Greenland, both personally and in terms of getting around. It should be noted again that most Greenlander's know at least some Danish, and English is steadily growing.

COUNTRIES
Greenland only, excluding countries that have similar varieties.

SPEAKERS
Estimates are put at around 54,000.

VARIATIONS
Greenland has three main dialects: Avanersuaq (Northern Greenland), Tunu (East Greenland) and Kitaa (West Greenland). Greenlandic is also rather similar to Inuktitut, spoken in Northern Canada and, to a lesser extent, with Yupik spoken across Siberia.

CULTURE
he culture of Greenland has much in common with Inuit tradition, as the majority of people are descended from Inuit. Many people still go ice-fishing and there are annual dog-sled races in which everyone with a team participates.

However, Greenland has now become somewhat of a tourist attraction. It holds contests to attract tourists such as dog racing, ice fishing, hiking, and cross country racing. Greenlandic people are mostly of Inuit origin. The nation's culture reflects that. Hunting is iconic to their culture and most Greenlanders still hunt at least part-time to supplement their diet and provide skins for clothing and kayaks.

DIFFICULTIES
The language is often reported for expatriates in the country to be extremely difficult, taking into consideration it's non-Indo-European roots, and the fact that it has a grammar completely alien to the larger, more popular languages. Despite this, Greenlandic is by no means unlearnable for a foreigner, and with constant exposure and study, the language can be learned like any other. It will take a lot of time to overcome and get used to the language's extremely different ways of expressing even the simplest of ideas. Then again, that's part of it's attraction!

GRAMMAR
The language, like its relatives, is highly polysynthetic and ergative. There are almost no compound words, but mostly derivations. Greenland has three main dialects: Avanersuaq (Northern Greenland), Tunu (East Greenland) and Kitaa (West Greenland).

The language distinguishes four persons (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd reflexive), two numbers (singular, plural; no dual as in Inuktitut), eight moods (indicative, participial, imperative, optative, past subjunctive, future subjunctive, habitual subjunctive), ten cases (absolutive, ergative, equative, instrumental, locative, allative, ablative, prolative; for some selected nouns: nominative, accusative). Verbs carry bipersonal inflection for subject and object (distinguished by person and number). Transitive nouns carry possessive inflection.

An example of Greenlandic verbal conjugation is as follows:

Declarative (indicative)

1 - with a single person marker
sinippunga (I am sleeping)
sinipputit (you are sleeping)
sinippoq (...)
sinippugut
sinippusi
sinipput

2 - with a double person marker
takuakkit (I see you sg)
takuara (I see him/her)
takuassi (I see you pl)
takuakka (I see them)

takuarma (you see me)
takuat (you see him/her)
takuatsigut (you see us)
takuatit (you see them)

takuaanga (he/she sees me)
takuaatit (he/she sees you sg)
takuaa (he/she sees him/her)
takuaatigut (he/she sees us)
takuaasi (he/she sees you pl)
takuai (he/she sees them)

takuatsigit (we see you sg)
takuarput (we see him/her)
takuassi (we see you pl)
takuavut (we see them)

takuassinga (you pl see me)
takuarsi (you pl see him/her)
takuatsigut (you pl see us)
takuasi (you pl see them)

takuaannga (they see me)
takuaatsit (they see you sg)
takuaat (they see him/her)
takuaatigut (they see us)
takuaasi (they see you pl)
takuaat (they see them)

PRONUNCIATION
Pronuncation shouldn't pose too much problem, though this is of course relative to the languages you know. There are some possibly difficult sounds for English speakers to master - such as their "q" sound - and the intonation will require attention also.

VOCABULARY
Although English derives a few words from Greenlandic, namely kayak and anorak, the vocabulary is almost exclusively of Inuit origin, with the exception of Danish numbers and country-names.

TRANSPARENCY
Unless you're familar with any of the neighbouring languages or dialects mentioned earlier, Greenlandic unfortunately offers roughly zero-percent transparency, save for a few Danish loanwords.

SPELLING
In contrast to Eskimo-Aleut languages in Canada, Kalaallisut is written with the Latin alphabet and not with the Inuktitut syllabary. A special character, Kra (ĸ), was used exclusively in Kalaallisut until the spelling reform of 1973 replaced it with the letter q.

TIME NEEDED
Be prepared to put in the hard-yards for this language. Owing to a dearth of materials, and the exposure needed to become accustomed with a potentially extremely difficult language, this could take years. But language-learning is a life-long process.

BOOKS
In Danish:
QAAGIT - Grønlandsk som fremmedsprog, by Brigitte Hertling and Pia Rosing Heilmann
KALAALLISUT SUNGIUSAATIT - Laesestykker i Grønlandsk, by Chr. Berthelsen.
GRøNLANDSK GRAMMATIK by Stig Bjørnum.

In German:
GRÖNLÄNDISCH Wort für Wort (Kauderwelsch Band 204) by Richard Kölbl.

English:
"From the Writings of the Greenlanders - Kalaallit atuakkiaannit" edited by Michael Fortescue.

SCHOOLS
The University of Copenhagen offer classes, as does the University of Greenland. The instruction is primarily in Danish.

LINKS
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/greenlandic/
http://home.unilang.org/main/forum/viewforum.php?f=105&sid=b 26cb48fdff70f3aa41c70185df83d12
http://phrasebase.com/forum/board.php?FID=333

These sites will connect you to a (sometimes very quiet) community of people interested in the language. Beyond that, some other sites of interest are:

http://www.neriusaaqbooks.com/blog/
http://www.knr.gl/
http://www.oqaasileriffik.gl/content/us

Edited by Fränzi on 27 February 2008 at 10:04pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Veig
Triglot
Newbie
France
Joined 4658 days ago

12 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: French*, English, Danish
Studies: Icelandic, Greenlandic

 
 Message 2 of 15
26 February 2008 at 3:48pm | IP Logged 
Fränzi wrote:
Verbs carry bipersonal inflection for subject and object (distinguished by person and number).


May I add a few examples ?

Declarative (indicative)

1-with a single person marker
sinippunga (I am sleeping)
sinipputit (you are sleeping)
sinippoq (...)
sinippugut
sinippusi
sinipput

2-with a double person marker

takuakkit (I see you sg)
takuara (I see him/her)
takuassi (I see you pl)
takuakka (I see them)

takuarma (you see me)
takuat (you see him/her)
takuatsigut (you see us)
takuatit (you see them)

takuaanga (he/she sees me)
takuaatit (he/she sees you sg)
takuaa (he/she sees him/her)
takuaatigut (he/she sees us)
takuaasi (he/she sees you pl)
takuai (he/she sees them)

takuatsigit (we see you sg)
takuarput (we see him/her)
takuassi (we see you pl)
takuavut (we see them)

takuassinga (you pl see me)
takuarsi (you pl see him/her)
takuatsigut (you pl see us)
takuasi (you pl see them)

takuaannga (they see me)
takuaatsit (they see you sg)
takuaat (they see him/her)
takuaatigut (they see us)
takuaasi (they see you pl)
takuaat (they see them)

Edited by Veig on 27 February 2008 at 11:15am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5698 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 3 of 15
26 February 2008 at 3:51pm | IP Logged 
Hmm... that's an elaborate conjugational pattern.
1 person has voted this message useful



ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 4858 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 4 of 15
26 February 2008 at 9:02pm | IP Logged 
It's quite terrifying.

Do you personally know any Greenlandic, Veig?

Edited by Fränzi on 26 February 2008 at 9:03pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Veig
Triglot
Newbie
France
Joined 4658 days ago

12 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: French*, English, Danish
Studies: Icelandic, Greenlandic

 
 Message 5 of 15
27 February 2008 at 4:13am | IP Logged 
I try to learn a bit of Greenlandic on my own, with books. I do not know any Greenlanders, I've only met one once when I studied in Copenhagen, a few years ago... It is a very difficult language, but also fascinating one.

Fränzi, you wrote above, for instance, that Kalaallisut distinguishes nouns and verbs. In fact, specialists do not all agree with this. A word we first considered as a noun can sometimes become a verb. Ronald Lowe described Canadian inuit languages. According to him, a word IS not a noun or a verb by itself, it becomes either an "object word" (noun) or an "action word" (verb) at the moment of speech. Am I clear ?
1 person has voted this message useful



ChristopherB
Triglot
Senior Member
New Zealand
Joined 4858 days ago

851 posts - 1074 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: English*, German, French

 
 Message 6 of 15
27 February 2008 at 9:52pm | IP Logged 
No worries, I'll edit that out. Most of the grammar-specific information I obtained from Wikipedia, as I haven't yet studied the language. Thanks for the correction.
1 person has voted this message useful



Veig
Triglot
Newbie
France
Joined 4658 days ago

12 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: French*, English, Danish
Studies: Icelandic, Greenlandic

 
 Message 7 of 15
28 February 2008 at 4:48am | IP Logged 
It was not false either to write that Greenlandic distinguish verbs and nouns ! Anna Berge, in her article "The Inuit language in syntactic theory", wrote that though the question still is open, most specialists obviously agree to say that Greenlandic do distinguish nouns and verbs, as in most languages.
For instance the word nasaq is considered as a noun which means "hat". But if you add the ending of the declarative mood, it becomes a verb : nasaqpuq (he puts his hat on).
That means either that a word can be, depending on the context, a verb and a noun, or that there are in reality two similar words, the first one being a noun (hat), the second one being a verb (to put one's hat on)

Edited by Veig on 28 February 2008 at 5:19am

1 person has voted this message useful



Miiyii
Groupie
Greenland
Joined 4125 days ago

59 posts - 97 votes 

 
 Message 8 of 15
28 August 2009 at 6:05pm | IP Logged 
Veig wrote:
nasaq is considered as a noun which means "hat". But if you add the ending of the
declarative mood, it becomes a verb : nasaqpuq


Well.. I don't hope you are saying you wrote Nasaqpuq in Greenlandic, cuzz' it's not right.. (Sooorry to say it.. d:
- Unless you mean Inuktitut?)

In greenland we say ''Nasaq'' (That right what you said) but we say Nasalerpoq/Nasani ativaa. (Directly translated
the first would be ''Hat on it does.'' and the second ''Hat takes on it.'' so.. :))

And yes, there are many many ways writing up here.. Let me show you..

Avannaa (Cities: Aasiaat, Ilulissat Qasingiannguit, Uummannaq, Upernavik) Atuangaq uanga
uangut
Qeqqata (Cities: Sisimiut, Maniitsoq, Nuuk) Atuagaq uanga uagut
Kujataa (Cities: Paamiut, Narsaq, Qaqortoq, Nanortalik) Atuagaq uanga uagit

All these ways of writing is okay in the right part in Greenland, but if you are going to write with people from
other towns, or if you are going examing you have to write the Qeqqata way. Or else, you'll just get a 6 - 7
hehe.. d:

And the grammar isn't so hard to learn.. It's only ''neuter'' even if you are girl or boy. And there is ''Taggisit''
''Susaq Susorlu'' ''Susuik Susavik'' ''Kinaassusersiutit'' ''Oqaluutit'' and other stuff i'll write about later..

(This will continue)

Edited by Miiyii on 20 September 2009 at 2:18pm



2 persons have voted this message useful



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