Greenlandic (Kalaallisut)

Greenlandic is a member of the Inuit branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family. Unlike most Inuit languages, it has a lot of influence and loanwords from languages such as Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Faroese, Finnish and English. It is spoken by about 57,000 people 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 800 people in the north of Greenland. It has more similarities with Inuit languages spoken in Canada than with other Greenlandic dialects, and is classified as a separate language by some linguists. It is also known as Inuktun, Polar Inuit, Thule Inuit or Polar Eskimo.

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). North Greenlandic / Inuktun possibly arrived during the 18th century.

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 (Kallallisut Naqinnerit Tulleriinnerat)

Greenlandic alphabet (Kallallisut Naqinnerit Tulleriinnerat)


The letter Κʼ ĸ (kra) was used in Greenlandic until 1973, when it was replaced by Q.

Greenlandic pronunciation

Greenlandic pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Greenlandic (Excel)


Details provided by Juunataat Saffiooq

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)

Sample videos in Greenlandic

Information about Greenlandic | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel

Learn Greenlandic with uTalk

Greenlandic language resources on Amazon


Information about the Greenlandic languageönländska (in Czech)

Greenlandic lessons

Greenlandic phrases

Greenlandic parser project

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

Kalaallit Nunaata Radio (Radio Greenland)

Education in Greenland

Greenland Guide

Eskimo-Aleut languages

Aleut, Alutiiq, Greenlandic, Inuktitut, Inuktun, Iñupiaq, Sirenik, Yup'ik (Central Alaskan), Yupik (Central Siberian)

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 07.11.23


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