Orthography

Inuktitut has a long and rich history as a spoken language. However, its writing system is fairly new. The Inuktitut syllabary was adapted from the Cree syllabary, which itself was adapted from the Ojibwe syllabary. Inuktitut is written in syllables, a phonetic form of writing that was developed by Rev. James Evans for the Cree, adapted for the Inuit in the latter part of the 1800s by the Anglican missionaries John Horden and E.A. Watkins, and brought to the Arctic by their colleague, Edmund Peck.

In the late 1970s, the Inuit Cultural Institute established a standardized dual orthography for the roman style and the syllabic style.  This syllabary is known as titirausiq nutaaq and is most used by writers of the Inuktitut dialect spoken in Quebec, Canada. The Inuktitut syllabary is used in Canada, especially in the new Canadian province of Nunavut, the population of which is 85% Inuit. The use of the syllabic writing system spread up to the (eastern) Hudson's Bay coast to the Ungava Bay coast, and continued to the Northwest Territories (Nunavut).

In Greenland and Alaska the Latin alphabet is used to write Inuit, and in Siberia Inuit is written with the Cyrillic alphabet. It is interesting to note that Inuit populations outside the eastern Arctic region do not use the syllabic writing system. Inuit in (what is now) N.W.T., Labrador Coast and in Alaska use Roman orthography, as well as the Inuit of Greenland (Greenlandic). Siberian Inuit use the Cyrillic script to write Inuktitut. The Inuktitut language has fallen into considerable decline where syllabics are not used except in Greenland.

The Inuktitut syllabary consists of a small number of basis signs, the vowel sound attached to each one depends on their orientation.

Inuktitut Syllabary (adapted from Omniglot)

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You may want to have some fun at http://www.halfmoon.org/inuit.html, which generates Inuktitut words for you.

Please download the font for Inuktitut at http://www.nunatsiaq.com/download.html#inuktitut.

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