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CHAT: Inuktitut (Canada)

From:Danny Wier <dawiertx@...>
Date:Friday, April 16, 2004, 10:25
I mentioned I'm discovering the language nowadays. I found some RealPlayer
files on the 2004 elections in Nunavut, and I noticed not only are there
borrowings from English like 'government' (it's pronounced something like
[kavamint]), but a lot of numbers, even relatively small numbers like
'twenty-five' [twanifaiv]!

Apparently number words can get quite long. According to Mark Rosenfelder
(, Inuit-Aleut languages are base-5,
and the Proto-Eskimo for 'eight' is *ningajuneng arvinelegh (*arvinelegh is
'five'). The massive database on the number words of the world only has
numbers from one to ten.

The Nunavut Living Dictionary has _avatit_ and _inungaavuq_ (among other
words) for 'twenty' and _allimat_ for 'five'. I don't know how one would say
'twenty-five'; 'twenty-one' is _avatillu atausirlu_. And I have no idea what
Greenlandic does.

Being a purist in a lot of things, I wonder why a language would borrow from
other languages for numbers less than a hundred! Swahili does borrow 'six',
'seven' and 'nine' from Arabic, but that's Swahili.