Archive for July, 2011

Ilatamiutitut in Cyrillic

July 30th, 2011
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I was thinking about the possibility of writing Ilatamiutitut (or, for that matter, Inuktitut) in Cyrillic.

The first obstacle is /q/. As far as I know, most languages using the Cyrillic script tend to add little hooks to letters to create new ones, so I /q/ would be something like қ ҝ ҟ ҡ. But that looks a bit too indistinct from plain к, I think. (Similarly for ң for /ŋ/ – though ҥ and ӈ look more distinctive, IMO.)

So I thought about using digraphs instead, inspired a little by old orthographies for Inuit languages as well as the writing conventions for Syllabics.

Here’s what I came up with:

Vowels – a = а, i = і, u = у; aa = аа, ii = іі, uu = уу; ai = аі, au = ау, ia = іа, iu = іу, ua = уа, ui = уі.

Consonants – voiceless: p = п, t = т, s = с,  ł[5] = дл, k = , q = [1]; voiced: b[2] = б, v = в, l = л, j = я/ї/ю[7], g = г, r[3] = р; nasal: m = м, n = н, ŋ = нг[6], ɴ[4] = р.


  1. кр- at the beginning of a syllable, -рк at the end of a syllable, -ркк- when geminate, -р- as the first part of a consonant cluster.
  2. occurs only as the first part of a consonant cluster, e.g. mibvik = мібвік, kublu = кублу.
  3. As I mentioned elsewhere, the realisation of this phoneme (in particular, its manner of articulation: stop, fricative, or continuant) varies.
  4. Not a separate phoneme; only occurs as the first part of a consonant cluster.
  5. Only occurs as the second part of a consonant cluster, or geminate (then spelled simply дл); never as the first part of a cluster or by itself.
  6. ннг when geminate.
  7. I’m not quite certain yet what to do with geminate -jj-. Perhaps I’ll take advantage of the fact that this sometimes has a fricative or affricate pronunciation (compare the spelling “dj” rather than “yy” or “jj” in Inuinnaqtun) and write this combination as -жя/-жї/-жю.

To reduce the number of -рк- sequences, I decided to write a uvular place of articulation as the first part of a consonant cluster with a fixed -р-, regardless of the manner of articulation; this would be signalled unambiguously by the second member of the consonant cluster except in the case of a geminate voiceless uvular stop. This bit is a bit like Nunavik orthographical conventions, as I understand them.

An alternative, with slightly fewer digraphs, is to use Serbian Cyrillic њ for /ŋ/ and љ for /ɬ/; it would then seem attractive to use ј for /j/ (and -јј- for geminate /jj/), and since this gets rid of ї, we can use и for /i/. The only digraph then would be for /q/. I’ll admit that this leads to rather unusual values for the letters њ and љ.

I suppose it might even be possible to get rid of that final digraph by using х for /q/, as in Greek-script Ilatamiutitut. (Or ԛ, but font support for that is likely to be bad.)

That would lead to the following two spellings of the Lord’s Prayer as reproduced in the article on Greek-script Ilatamiutitut:

“Russian” –

Атаатавут крілангміітутіт: ангінірпангунііт ікпігіяуттіарлі;

атаніувііт краілаурлі; піюмаяіт атуртаулі нунамі суурлу крілангмі атуртаунгмат.

Ублумі нікріксаптіннік тунісівітігут.

Таммарніптіннік ісумакрарквінгіюнгніірлута саіммаутітігут, суурлу інуукратіпта уваптінгнут таммарнгнінгіт саіммаутіяраангаптігут ісумакрірквігіюннірпак каттігут.

Ууктуртаутіттаілітігут аюртаптігут, сапутітігублі саатаанасіміт. (Атаніунірк, аюгакрангірнірлу, інукранірюарнірлу пігігавігіт, ісукрангітумут.)

“Serbian” –

Атаатавут хилањмиитутит: ањинирпањуниит икпигијауттиарли;

атаниувиит хаилаурли; пијумајаит атуртаули нунами суурлу хилањми атуртауњмат.

Ублуми нихиксаптинник тунисивитигут.

Таммарниптинник исумахахвињијуњниирлута саиммаутитигут, суурлу инуухатипта уваптињнут таммарњнињит саиммаутијараањаптигут исумахихвигијуннирпак каттигут.

Ууктуртаутиттаилитигут ајуртаптигут, сапутитигубли саатаанасимит. (Атаниуних, ајугахањирнирлу, инуханирјуарнирлу пигигавигит, исухањитумут.)

Creating vocabulary with Awkwords

July 27th, 2011
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A while ago, I became aware of Awkwords, which lets you generate random words matching a given pattern.

I thought I’d try to use that to create words for Ilatamiutitut, so I had a go at creating patterns that would sound like Inuktitut.

Read more…