Inuvialuktun are three
dialects of the language of the Inuit
spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by those Canadian Inuit who call themselves Inuvialuit.
Inuvialuktun is spoken by the Inuit of the
River delta in the Northwest Territories, Banks
Island, part of Victoria Island and the Arctic Ocean coast of the Northwest Territories - the lands of
Settlement Region. The government of the Northwest Territories
considers Inuvialuktun distinct from the Inuktitut spoken in
Inuvialuktun is an official language of the
Territories and is written using the Roman alphabet, like all NWT official
languages, and has no tradition of Inuktitut syllabics.
official understanding of Inuvialuktun is somewhat at variance to
the way linguists understand it. Rather than a single dialect,
Inuvialuktun is a politically motivated grouping of three quite
distinct and separate dialects.
20th century, the Inuvialuit Settlement Region was primarily inhabited by Siglit Inuit who spoke the Siglitun dialect, but in the second half of
the 19th century, their numbers were dramatically reduced by the
introduction of new diseases.
Inuit from Alaska moved into
traditionally Siglit areas in the 1910s and 20s, enticed in part by
renewed demand for furs from the Hudson's Bay Company
. These Inuit are
- which means
people of the green trees
- in reference to their
settlements near the tree line
Originally, there was an intense dislike between the Siglit and the
Uummarmiut, but these differences have faded over the years, and
the two communities are thoroughly intermixed these days.
Inuvialuktun has three main dialect divisions, plus a fourth
dialect conventionally grouped here from a neighboring language:
- Siglitun: Until the 1980s, it was believed
that the Siglitun dialect was extinct, but it is still spoken by
people in Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Tuktoyaktuk.
consists of 4 subdialects: Kangiryuarmiutun, Coppermine, Bathurst,
Cambridge. The Kangiryuarmiutun subdialect is spoken in
the small community of Ulukhaktok. It is essentially identical to the Inuinnaqtun spoken in the bordering part of
consists of 3 subdialects: Natsilik,
- Uummarmiutun, the dialect of the
Uummarmiut, is essentially
identical to the Inupiatun dialect spoken
in Alaska, and is
considered an Iñupiaq language, but is
conventionally grouped with Inuvialuktun. Uummarmiutun is found
in the communities of Inuvik and Aklavik.
|You are welcome
|How are you?
|I am fine
(an expression used when alarmed or fearful)
|See you later
|See you, too
|It is like this
|Who is this?
|Where are you from?
|How much does it cost?
|How old is he/she?
|What do you call it?
|What is time?
|Why? Or how come?
|Doesn't matter/It is ok
|What are you doing?
|It can't be helped! Too bad.
|in fact, actually
|Do it again!
|Go ahead and do it
|It is cold out!
|Eskimo ice cream
|Siglitun Inuvialuktun snow terms
||first snow layer in autumn that stays
||first fall of snow
||small, fresh snowdrift
||deep, soft snow
||blowing wet snow
||good snow conditions for sled travel
English has in recent years become the common language of the
Inuvialuit. Surveys of Inuktitut usage in the NWT vary, but all
agree that usage is not vigorous. According to the Inuvialuit
Cultural Resource Centre
, only some 10% of the roughly 4,000
Inuvialuit speak any dialect of Inuvialuktun, and only some 4% use
it at home.  Statistics
's 2001 Census reports 765 self-identified Inuvialuktun
speakers out of a self-reported Inuvialuit population of
With only a few hundred speakers and already divided into diverse
dialects, Inuvialuktun's future appears bleak.
- Harper, Kenn. Current Status of Writing Systems for
Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun and Inuvialuktun. [Yellowknife,
N.W.T.]: Northwest Territories, Culture and Communications,