Inuktitut syllabics

Inuktitut syllabics

Infobox Writing system
name = Inuktitut syllabics
type = Abugida
time = 1870s-present
languages = Inuktitut
fam1 = Pitman Shorthand (disputed)
fam2 = Canadian Aboriginal syllabics
children =
sample =
imagesize =
unicode = Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, U+1400–167F ( [ chart] )
iso15924 = Cans, 440
IPAChartEng =

The Inuktitut syllabary (Inuktitut: ᑎᑎᕋᐅᓯᖅ ᓄᑖᖅ, "titirausiq nutaaq") is a writing system (specifically an abugida) used by the Inuit in Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec. In 1976, the Language Commission of the Inuit Cultural Institute made it the co-official script for the Inuit languages, along with the Latin alphabet.


The first efforts to write Inuktitut came from Moravian missionaries in Greenland and Labrador in the mid-18th century. In the 1870s, Edmund Peck, an Anglican missionary adapted the Cree syllabary to Inuktitut. Other missionaries, and later linguists in the employ of the Canadian and American governments, adapted the Latin alphabet to the dialects of the Mackenzie River delta, the western Arctic islands and Alaska.

Inuktitut is one variation on Canadian aboriginal syllabic writing, and can be digitally encoded using the Unicode standard. The Unicode block for Inuktitut characters is called Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics.

The initial sound in the syllable can be g, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, ng, ł, or nothing, and the vowel can be a, i, u or absent.


The Makivik Corporation has recently changed the official version of the syllabary to restore the ai-pai-tai row. The common diphthong AI has generally been represented by combining the A form with a standalone ᐃ character. This fourth vowel variant of the official syllabary was initially removed so that Inuktitut could be typed and printed using IBM Selectric balls in the 1970s. The reinstatement was justified on the grounds that modern printing and typesetting equipment no longer suffers the restrictions of earlier typewriting machinery. The ai-pai-tai row is only used in Nunavik.


The Inuit language is written in different ways in different places. In Greenland, Alaska, Labrador, the Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories and in part of Nunavut, it is written with the Latin alphabet (also known as Roman orthography in some regions). In most of Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec, Inuktitut is written using the Inuktitut syllabary. At present, Inuktitut syllabics enjoy official status in Nunavut, alongside the Latin alphabet, and are used by the Kativik Regional Government of Nunavik. In Greenland, the traditional Latin script is official and is widely used in public life.

Because the Inuit language is a continuum of only partially intercomprehensible dialects, the language varies a great deal across the Arctic. Split up into different political divisions and different churches reflecting the arrival of various missionary groups, Inuktitut writing systems can vary a great deal.

ee also

* Inuit phonology

Further reading

* Balt, Peter. Inuktitut Affixes. Rankin Inlet? N.W.T.: s.n, 1978.

External links

* [ Government of Nunavut font page] (download the font named Pigiarniq)
* [ Inuktitut syllabary at Omniglot]
* [ Publishing Inuktitut on the Web ]

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