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Inuit phonology

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Title: Inuit phonology  
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Subject: Greenlandic language, Inuit languages, Eskimo-Aleut languages, Proto-Eskimo language, Kivalliq dialect
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Inuit phonology

Most Inuit varieties have fifteen consonants and three vowel qualities (with phonemic length distinctions for each). Although Inupiatun and Qawiaraq have retroflex consonants, retroflexes have otherwise disappeared in all the Canadian and Greenlandic dialects.


Ranges for West Greenlandic monophthongs on a vowel chart. Adapted from .

Almost all dialects of Inuktitut have only three basic vowels and make a phonemic distinction between short and long vowels. In Inuujingajut (the standard alphabet of Nunavut) long vowels are written as a double vowel.

IPA Inuujingajut
/a/ a
/aː/ aa
/i/ i
/iː/ ii
/u/ u
/uː/ uu

In western Alaska, Qawiaraq and to some degree the Malimiutun variant of Inupiatun retains an additional vowel which was present in proto-Inuit and is still present in Yupik, but which has become /i/ or sometimes /a/ in all other dialects. Thus, the common Inuktitut word for water – imiq – is emeq (/əməq/) in Qawiaraq.[1]

Furthermore, many diphthongs in the Alaskan dialects have merged, suggesting the beginnings of a new more complex vowel scheme with more than

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