Language - Greenlandic language

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Greenlandic language

Greenlandic is an Eskimo–Aleut language spoken by about 56,000 Greenlandic Inuit in Greenland. It is closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada such as Inuktitut. The main variety, Kalaallisut or West Greenlandic, has been the official language of the Greenlandic autonomous territory since June 2009; this is a move by the Naalakkersuisut (government of Greenland) to strengthen the language in its competition with the colonial language, Danish. The second variety is Tunumiit oraasiat or East Greenlandic. The Thule Inuit of Greenland, Inuktun or Polar Eskimo, is a recent arrival and a dialect of Inuktitut.

Greenlandic is a polysynthetic language that allows the creation of long words by stringing together roots and suffixes. Its morphosyntactic alignment is ergative, meaning that it treats (i.e. case-marks) the argument ("subject") of an intransitive verb like the object of a transitive verb, but distinctly from the agent ("subject") of a transitive verb.

Nouns are inflected for one of the eight cases and for possession. Verbs are inflected for one of the eight moods and for the number and person of its subject and object. Both nouns and verbs have complex derivational morphology. Basic word order in transitive clauses is subject–object–verb. Subordination of clauses is done by the use of special subordinate moods. A so-called fourth-person category enables switch-reference between main clauses and subordinate clauses with different subjects. Greenlandic is notable for its lack of a system of grammatical tense, as temporal relations are normally expressed through context, through the use of temporal particles such as "yesterday" or "now" or sometimes through the use of derivational suffixes or the combination of affixes with aspectual meanings with the semantic aktionsart of different verbs. However, some linguists have suggested that Greenlandic does mark future tense obligatorily. Another question is whether the language has noun incorporation, or whether the processes that create complex predicates that include nominal roots are derivational in nature.

When adopting new concepts or technologies, Greenlandic usually constructs new words made from Greenlandic roots, but modern Greenlandic has also taken many loans from Danish and English. The language has been written in the Latin script since Danish colonization began in the 1700s. The first orthography was developed by Samuel Kleinschmidt in 1851, but within a hundred years already differed substantially from the spoken language because of a number of sound changes. An extensive orthographic reform undertaken in 1973 that made the script easier to learn resulted in a boost in Greenlandic literacy, which is now among the highest in the world.

The Greenlandic language was brought to Greenland with the arrival of the Thule people in the 1200s. It is unknown which languages were spoken by the earlier Saqqaq and Dorset cultures in Greenland.

The first descriptions of Greenlandic date from the 1600s, and with the arrival of Danish missionaries in the early 1700s, and the beginning of Danish colonialism in Greenland, the compilation of dictionaries and description of grammar began. The missionary Paul Egede wrote the first Greenlandic dictionary in 1750, and the first grammar in 1760.

From the Danish colonization in the 1700s to the beginning of Greenlandic home rule in 1979, Greenlandic experienced increasing pressure from the Danish language. In the 1950s, Denmark's linguistic policies were directed at strengthening Danish. Of primary significance was that post-primary education and official functions were conducted in Danish.

From 1851 to 1973, Greenlandic was written in a complicated orthography devised by the missionary linguist Samuel Kleinschmidt. In 1973, a new orthography was introduced, intended to bring the written language closer to the spoken standard, which had changed considerably since Kleinschmidt's time. The reform was effective and in the years following it, Greenlandic literacy received a boost.

Another development that strengthened the Greenlandic language has been the policy of "greenlandization" of Greenlandic society which began with the homerule agreement of 1979. This policy has worked to reverse the former trend towards marginalization of the Greenlandic language by making it the official language of education. The fact that Greenlandic has become the only language used in primary schooling has meant that today monolingual Danish-speaking parents in Greenland are raising children bilingual in Danish and Greenlandic. Today Greenlandic has several dedicated news media: the Greenlandic National Radio, Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa, which provides television and radio programming in Greenlandic. The newspaper Sermitsiaq, has been published since 1958, and in 2010 merged with the other newspaper Atuagagdliutit/Grønlandsposten, which was established already in 1861 to form a single large Greenlandic language publishing house.

Before June 2009, Greenlandic shared its status as the official language in Greenland with Danish. Since then, Greenlandic has become the sole official language. This has made Greenlandic a unique example of an indigenous language of the Americas that is recognized by law as the only official language of a semi-independent country. Nevertheless, it is still considered to be in a "vulnerable" state by the UNESCO Red Book of Language Endangerment. The country has a 100% literacy rate. As the Western Greenlandic standard has become dominant, a UNESCO report has labelled the other dialects as endangered, and measures are now being considered to protect the Eastern Greenlandic dialect.



Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat, ; Grønland, ) is an autonomous constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium. The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors began migrating from the Canadian mainland in the 13th century, gradually settling across the island.

Greenland is the world's largest island (Australia and Antarctica, both larger than Greenland, are generally considered to be continental landmasses rather than islands). Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. With a population of about 56,480 (2013), it is the least densely populated territory in the world. About a third of the population live in Nuuk, the capital and largest city. The Arctic Umiaq Line ferry acts as a lifeline for western Greenland, connecting the various cities and settlements.


Greenlandic language (English)  Lingua groenlandese (Italiano)  Groenlands (Nederlands)  Groenlandais (Français)  Grönländische Sprache (Deutsch)  Língua groenlandesa (Português)  Гренландский язык (Русский)  Idioma groenlandés (Español)  Język grenlandzki (Polski)  格陵兰语 (中文)  Grönländska (Svenska)  グリーンランド語 (日本語)  Ґренландська мова (Українська)  Гренландски език (Български)  그린란드어 (한국어)  Grönlannin kieli (Suomi)  Bahasa Greenland (Bahasa Indonesia)  Grenlandų kalba (Lietuvių)  Grønlandsk (Dansk)  Grónština (Česky)  Grönlandca (Türkçe)  Гренландски језик (Српски / Srpski)  Grööni keel (Eesti)  Grónčina (Slovenčina)  Grönlandi nyelv (Magyar)  Grenlandski jezik (Hrvatski)  ภาษากรีนแลนด์ (ไทย)  Grenlandščina (Slovenščina)  Grenlandiešu valoda (Latviešu)  Γροιλανδική γλώσσα (Ελληνικά)  Tiếng Greenland (Tiếng Việt)