Creating vocabulary with Awkwords
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.
I started by taking all the headwords from Spalding’s Multi-dialectal Outline Dictionary (with an Aivilingmiutaq base) that were nouns and verbs, trying to omit clearly-derived ones. (This was also the reason for only taking lemmata at the beginning of paragraphs, since lemmata inside paragraphs were usually derived from the first one. But this is not always the case; going through and adding more by hand might make for a more balanced “corpus”, at the expense of a lot of additional work, given the size of the dictionary.)
Then I wrote a script to analyse the nouns for things such as the distribution of initials, finals, medial consonant clusters, number of syllables, and the like.
After that, I turned the results into a set of rules for Awkwords and gave the script a spin.
I was fairly satisfied with many of the results; they do look fairly Inuktitut-like, and I even spotted a few of the words I already knew, such as nanuq or sila, amongst the results.
Here’s a run of 16 items I did just now: asanuuq – puqqulumukłuq – tuamiptamaq – iritiq – paaq – ajijaq – ulit – nuqqi – kivaqiq – aak – mimat – isaaluq – utakpiq – maqsaapi – sirlapatiq – tasaq. What do you think?
Since the dictionary I used a base is based on a phonologically fairly conservative (western) dialect, there are some consonant clusters that you won’t see in more eastern dialects of Inuktitut such as North Baffin or South Baffin, let alone Greenlandic, where consonant clusters such as -pt- tend to get assimilated. (For some details on such assimilation in various dialects, see Section G of Inuktitut Linguistics for Technocrats.)