Greenlandic is an Eskimo-Aleut language spoken by about 57,000
people in Greenland (Kalaallit
Nunaat) and Denmark. There are three main dialects: West
Greenlandic (Kalaallisut), East Greenlandic
(Tunumiisut) and North Greenlandic (Inuktun).
West Greenlandic is spoken by 54,500 people in Nuuk, Sisimiut and
Kangerussuaq, is has been the official language of the Greenlandic
autonomous territory since 2009 - before then it shared official
status with Danish. West Greenlandic used in Greenland's schools,
and is the sole medium of instruction in primary schools. It is also
spoken by 7,000 people in Denmark. East Greenlandic is spoken by 3,000
people mainly in the Tasiilaq in southeast Greenland, and North
Greenlandic is spoken by 1,000 people in Qaanaaq and Nord in the
north of Greenland. North Greenlandic has more similarities with
Inuktitut, an Eskimo-Aleut language
spoken in Canada, than other Greenlandic dialects.
Greenlandic probably arrived in Greenland in the 13th century and
was first described in the 1600s. In the 1700s Danish missionary
compiled dictionaries and grammars of the language - the first
Greenlandic dictionary was published in 1750, and the first grammar
in 1760, both by Paul Edege (1708-1789).
Between 1851 and 1973 a complex orthography invented by Samuel
Kleinschmidt, a missionary linguist, was used to write Greenlandic.
A new orthography which bought the written language closer to
the spoken language was introduced in 1973.
The letters B (be), C (ce) D (de), W (we), X (iks), Y (y), Z (ze),
Æ (æ), Ø (ø) and Å (å) are also
used, but only in loanwords and names.
Before a uvular consonant, [q] or [ʁ]), /i/ is realized
allophonically as [e] or [ɛ] and /u/ as [o] or [ɔ].
This alternation is shown in the modern orthography by writing /i/
and /u/ as ⟨e⟩ and ⟨o⟩ respectively
before uvulars ⟨q⟩ and ⟨r⟩.
t, k, q, p and g are pronounced weaker at the ends of words, ex. Inuugujaq /inu:guja(q)/
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