Greenlandic or Greenlandic Inuit language is an Eskimo–Aleut language spoken by about 57,000 Greenlandic Inuit people in Greenland. It is closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada, such as Inuktitut. The main dialect, Kalaallisut or West Greenlandic, has been the official language of the Greenlandic autonomous territory since June 2009; this is a move by the Greenlandic government to strengthen the language in its competition with the colonial language, Danish. Other dialects are East Greenlandic (Tunumiisut) and the Thule dialect Inuktun or Polar Eskimo.
Greenlandic is a polysynthetic language that allows the creation of long words by stringing together roots and suffixes. Its morphosyntactic alignment is ergative, meaning that it treats (i.e., case-marks) the argument ("subject") of an intransitive verb like the object of a transitive verb, but distinctly from the agent ("subject") of a transitive verb.
Nouns are inflected for one of the eight cases and for possession. Verbs are inflected for one of the eight moods and for the number and person of its subject and object. Both nouns and verbs have complex derivational morphology. Basic word order in transitive clauses is subject–object–verb. Subordination of clauses is done by the use of special subordinate moods. A so-called fourth-person category enables switch reference between main clauses and subordinate clauses with different subjects. Greenlandic is notable for its lack of a system of grammatical tense, as temporal relations are normally expressed through context, through the use of temporal particles such as "yesterday" or "now" or sometimes through the use of derivational suffixes or the combination of affixes with aspectual meanings with the semantic aktionsart of different verbs. However, some linguists have suggested that Greenlandic does mark future tense obligatorily. Another question is whether the language has noun incorporation, or whether the processes that create complex predicates that include nominal roots are derivational in nature.
When adopting new concepts or technologies, Greenlandic usually constructs new words made from Greenlandic roots, but modern Greenlandic has also taken many loans from Danish and English. The language has been written in the Latin script since Danish colonization began in the 1700s. The first orthography was developed by Samuel Kleinschmidt in 1851, but within a hundred years already differed substantially from the spoken language due to a number of sound changes. An extensive orthographic reform undertaken in 1973 that made the script easier to learn resulted in a boost in Greenlandic literacy.
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