Four Short Stories on Language

These four short stories discuss the importance of the Inuktitut language for the Inuit culture. 

Inuktitut Dictionary Development Is No Easy Task

By Isaac Anowak

Tumasi Qumaq of Povungnituk has been working on his dictionary development project for over two years.  During this time, he has come to realize that it would be far more difficult to complete than he originally thought.

When Tumasi began the project, he said he knew it would be no easy job, and that it would take a long time to finish.  But once he started working on it, it grew into a project that at times almost seemed endless.  He added that he even wondered why he got involved in it.

However, now that the project is well under way and other people are helping, Tumasi feels certain that the dictionary will be published even if he isn’t around to see it finished.  Nevertheless, he said the hand written work may be completed within a year.

(Taqralik, November 1982, Page 53)

Longest Words

By Alec Gordon

Trying to find the longest Inuktitut word, I ended up with the following results.  Can you do better?


It had been thought that it wasn’t going to be all that fun.


It had been said that he/she could really speak Inuktitut very well.


It was once said that it would keep on continuing to progress.

By the way, the longest word we have seen so far has come from Greenland and it is as follows:


Which means: Once they were just trying to make a telex station.

(Taqralik, May 1982, page 50)

Essay on Language

By Jobie Weetaluktuk

Inuktitut is an international language, spoken by Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and the Soviet Union.  In our circumpolar world we speak the same language with regional variations.  The dialectal differences are superficial, since an Inuk from Canada can communicate with an Inuk from Alaska, not in English but in Inuktitut.

Knowing we have a language and culture in common with people in other countries is heartwarming.  These two things, language and culture, are what makes us different from the rest of the world and the same amongst ourselves.  No matter which country we live in, we have family members in foreign and unknown worlds, such as the Soviet Union, who speak Inuktitut.

That is why our language is so important.  We have to preserve it and participate in its evolution.  It can be argued that our language is not threatened.  However, the evidence contradicts the robust image we have been blindly accepting.  The symptoms show our language is hobbling towards its deathbed.

(Taqralik, November 1985, page 11)

The Inuit Community

In 1977, an international Inuit organization was founded, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.  It represents all the world’s Inuit and is ‘dedicated to protect and advance Inuit rights and interests on the international level’ (preamble, ICC Charter).

The ICC Charter states that the purposes of the organization are:

–       To strengthen unity among the Inuit of the circumpolar region;

–       To promote Inuit rights and interests on the international level;

–       To ensure adequate Inuit participation in political, economic and social institutions which we, the Inuit, deem relevant;

–       To promote greater self-sufficiency of Inuit in the circumpolar region;

–       To ensure the endurance and growth of Inuit culture and societies for present and future generations;

–       To promote long-term management and protection of Arctic and Sub-Arctic wildlife and biological productivity;

–       To promote wise management and use of non-renewable resources in the present and future development of Inuit economics, taking into account other Inuit interests. 

(Taqralik, Summer 1983, page 16)