Documenting Inuinnaqtun Grammar

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, linguistics, Inuit, grammar

Principal Investigator: Compton, Richard J (1)
Licence Number: 16844
Organization: University of Quebec at Montreal
Licensed Year(s): 2021
Issued: Jun 04, 2021
Project Team: Matthew Schuurman, Nora Villeneuve, Alana Johns, Heather Newell, Anja Arnhold, Emily Elfner, Yoann Léveillé

Objective(s): To better understand and document the grammar of Inuinnaqtun.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4525.

The objective of this project is to better understand and document the grammar of Inuinnaqtun. While extensive research has been carried out on European languages (especially English), less is known about the properties and structures found in other languages, including Inuinnaqtun. The goals of this project include developing a better knowledge of the rules that govern word-formation, the placement of words in sentences (which can be somewhat variable, but not entirely free), and a better understanding of the meaning and properties of the individual morphemes (roots and suffixes) that combine together to create words. In addition to a better understanding of the grammar of Inuinnaqtun (and the Inuit language more generally), this project will include create data that will be useful by communities for creating teaching materials and developing curricula (e.g., annotated short stories, dialogues, etc.).

The Principal Investigator (PI) will work with fluent speakers of Inuinnaqtun (in particular, the former Community Language Officer for Ulukhaktok) to collect data about grammatical constructions in their language (i.e., examples of sentence structures for passive constructions, causative constructions, ditransitive constructions, etc.), as well as probe the meaning of individual suffixes by testing the meaning they contribute as well as how they affect other properties of the words they are added to. In addition, the research team will collect short stories or dialogues from other community participants who consent to these being shared for the purposes of documenting the language. Care will be taken to ensure that participants have control over what data is shared within and beyond the community. (the PI has begun working with the Kitikmeot Heritage Society in Cambridge Bay, where the community language is also Inuinnaqtun).

The PI has reached out to the Manager at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, and received her endorsement for the project. The PI will continue to inquire about their priorities for documenting and revitalizing Inuinnaqtun. Ideally, the team would collaborate to publish a freely-available community grammar of the language (e.g., available online or in PDF format). Similarly, a searchable corpus of language data would be made available to the community.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 4, 2021 to December 31, 2021.