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Greenlandic (Kalaallisut)

Greenlandic is an Eskimo-Aleut language spoken by about 60,000 people (in 2007) in Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) and Denmark (Danmark / Qallunaat Nunaat). There are three main dialects: West Greenlandic (Kalaallisut), East Greenlandic (Tunumiisut / Tunumiit oraasiat) and North Greenlandic (Avanersuarmiutut).

West Greenlandic is spoken by 53,000 people (in 1995) in Nuuk, Sisimiut and Kangerussuaq. It is has been the official language of the Greenlandic autonomous territory since 2009 - before then it shared official status with Danish. West Greenlandic is 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 (in 1995) mainly in the Tasiilaq in southeast Greenland.

North Greenlandic is spoken by 1,000 people in (1995) 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 brought the written language closer to the spoken language, was introduced in 1973.


Greenlandic alphabet (Kalaallisut aioa)

A a E e F f G g I i J j K k L l M m
a e ef ge i je ka el em
N n O o P p Q q R r S s T t U u V v
en o pe qaa er es te u ve

The letters B (be), C (ce) D (de), H (ha), W (dobbel-ve), X (ex), Y (y), Z (zed), Æ (æ), Ø (ø) and Å (å) are also used, but only in loanwords and names. The letter Κʼ ĸ (kra) was used in Greenlandic until 1973, when it was replaced by Q.

Greenlandic pronunciation

Greenlandic pronunciation


Sample text

Inuit tamarmik inunngorput nammineersinnaassuseqarlutik assigiimmillu ataqqinassuseqarlutillu pisinnaatitaaffeqarlutik. Silaqassusermik tarnillu nalunngissusianik pilersugaapput, imminnullu iliorfigeqatigiittariaqaraluarput qatanngutigiittut peqatigiinnerup anersaavani.

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All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Greenlandic | Greenlandic phrases | Tower of Babel in Greenlandic


Information about the Greenlandic languageönländska (in Czech)

Greenlandic phrases

Greenlandic parser project

Greenland Language Council / Oqaasileriffik (in Greenlandic, Danish and English)

Kalaallit Nunaata Radio (Radio Greenland)

Greenlandic songs

Education in Greenland

Greenland Guide

Eskimo-Aleut languages

Aleut, Greenlandic, Inuktitut, Iñupiaq, Yup'ik

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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