To those UW students thinking about studying Inuktitut, I give you the words of professor Mick Mallon, renowned Canadian linguist, on “casual” Inuktitut learning: “‘Picking up’ Inuktitut would be like would be like putting together an IKEA space rocket kit.”
Any beginner will quickly discover a complex language with a precise grammar completely unrelated to English. But thankfully the “Introduction to Inuktitut” online learning modules, developed in collaboration with the Canadian Studies Center, Center for Global Studies, and UW’s Language Learning Center, provide a firm grammatical foundation upon which students can begin their studies. The rewards of learning Inuktitut are many, but the perhaps greatest is an understanding of the Arctic and Inuit culture that can only be gained through the complex and beautiful constructions of this language. In addition, the modules offer short video clips of Mick Mallon and audio clips of Alexina Kublu. Mallon was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008 for his contributions to the Inuit language. He has written some of the only textbooks on Inuktitut and, according to a CBC radio interview, “trained Inuit in their own language, to become educators and leaders.” Alexina Kublu is the former Language Commissioner for Nunavut and teaches Inuktitut at Nunavut Arctic College.
I studied Inuktitut as a undergraduate FLAS Fellow at UW for two years with professors Alexina Kublu and Mick Mallon, which included studying with Kublu in her community of Igoolik, Nunavut. Since graduation, I have worked with the Canadian Studies Center, Global Studies, and UW’s Language Learning Center to assist Kublu and Mallon in their creation of the “Introduction to Inuktitut” online modules. Thanks to assistance from UW Inuktitut student Kelly Bradford and Russ Hugo, linguist and Project Manager at the Language Learning Center, this resource is now available to students.
As UW students study the Arctic, Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ presence and autonomy should be recognized, and I believe that includes learning and promoting Indigenous languages. I am honored to contribute to the Canadian Studies Center’s initiative to establish of a robust Inuktitut program for students.
Although this module is for UW students who are studying or planning to study Inuktitut, it’s currently open to anyone to peruse: https://moodle.llc.washington.edu/course/view.php?id=183. Inuktitut ilinnialiruk! Now go learn Inuktitut!