The Greenlandic language is an Eskimo-Aleut language spoken by the people of Greenland. It is closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada, such as Inuktitut. It is spoken by about 54,000 people, which is more than all the other Eskimo-Aleut languages combined. The most prominent dialect is Western Greenlandic ("Kalaallisut"), which is the official language of Greenland.
The northern dialect, "Inuktun" ("Avanersuarmiutut"), spoken around the city of Qaanaaq (Thule) is particularly closely related to Canadian Inuktitut. Other dialects are Eastern Greenlandic ("Tunumiit oraasiat"), and the dialect of Upernavik. Additionally, Danish and English are spoken in Greenland, and the country has a 100% literacy rate.
The most extensive study of Greenlandic phonology is Jørgen Rischel's "Topics in West Greenlandic Phonology" (1974) [Jørgen Rischel, 1974, "Topics in West Greenlandic Phonology". Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag.] .
Three vowels: /i/, /u/ and /a/ .Before a uvular consonant (IPA| [q] or IPA| [ʁ] ) /i/ is realized allophonically as [e] or IPA| [ɛ] and /u/ as [o] or IPA| [ɔ] . This alternation is shown in the modern standard orthography by writing /i/ and /u/ as and respectively when occurring before uvulars ( and ).
Double vowels are pronounced as two moras, so they are phonologically a vowel sequence not a long vowel, they
are also written as two vowels in the orthography. There is no stress phonemic or phonetic but heavy syllables (with double vowel or in front of a consonant cluster) sound stressed and some intonational patterns also sound like stress.
Letters between // are phonemes and the following letter is the way it is spelled in the new standard Greenlandic orthography of 1973.
Greenlandic phonology distinguishes itself phonologically from the other Inuit languages by a series of assimilations. One of the most famous Inuktitut words, "iglu" ("house"), is "illu" in Greenlandic, where the /gl/ consonant cluster of Inuktitut is assimilated into an unvoiced lateral affricate. The name "Inuktitut", when translated into Kalaallisut, is "Inuttut", for example.
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).
Greenlandic distinguishes two open word classes: nouns and verbs. Each category is subdivided by intransitive and transitive words. 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.
In contrast to most Eskimo-Aleut languages in Canada, Greenlandic is written with the Latin alphabet and not with the Inuktitut syllabary.
A special character, "kra" (unicode|Κʻ / ĸ), was used until the spelling reform of 1973 replaced it with the letter q. [http://www.evertype.com/alphabets/greenlandic.pdf] In addition, vowel and consonant gemination were indicated by means of diacritics on the vowels (in the case of consonant gemination, the diacritics were placed on the vowel preceding the affected consonant).
For example, the name "Kalaallit Nunaat" was spelled "Kalâlit Nunát". This spelling system, including the use of the letter Kʻ (kra), although abolished in Greenland in 1973, remains in use for the Nunatsiavummiutut dialect of Inuktitut, spoken in the Nunatsiavut region of northeastern Labrador.
This scheme uses an acute accent ( acute ) to indicate vowel gemination ("i.e.", "á", "í", "ú" modern: "aa", "ii", "uu"), a tilde ( ~ ) or a grave accent ( ` ), depending on the author, indicates gemination of the consonant following ("e.g.", "ãt", "ĩt", "ũt" or "àt", "ìt", "ùt", modern: "att", "itt", "utt"), while a circumflex accent ( ^ ) indicates a sequence of a geminated vowel followed by geminated consonant ("e.g.", "ât/ît/ût", modern: "aatt", "iitt", "uutt"). The letters "ê" and "ô", used only before "r" and "q", are now written "er/eq" and "or/oq" in Greenlandic. (The vowels "e" and "o" are position-dependent phonemic variants of "i" and "u", as described in the discussion of "vowels" above.)
The alphabet for Greenlandic is: A E G 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", "h", "x", "y", "z", "w", "æ", "ø" and "å" are used.
Greenlandic uses the symbols >...< and »...« for quotation marks.