Young Greenlanders’ Greenlandic

Lead Author Karen, Langgård
Institution Contact Ilisimatusarfik / University of Greenland P.O.Box 1061 GR-3900 Nuuk Greenland
Theme Theme 3: Local and Traditional Knowledge
Session Name 3.3 Vulnerability and resilience of Northern Languages: ways to move forward
Datetime Fri, Sep 16, 2016 11:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Kalaallisut / Greenlandic, the Inuit language spoken in Greenland, is polysynthetic, pro-drop, and morphologically an ergative language. It is not a threatened language, but L1, the mother tongue, for the large majority of the population of Greenland.
It became a written language in the 18th century – and both newspapers, literary works etc written by Greenlanders in Kalaallisut have been published since the 19th century.
Today, reading and writing in Kalaallisut is not in high esteem even among L1 speakers of the language. The majority of the newspaper articles are no longer conceived in Kalaallisut, but translated into Kalaallisut from Danish. On the other hand Kalaallisut is the single official language of Greenland, and thus it is supposed that Kalaallisut should cover all domains.

In such an ambiguous linguistic market, the language usage among young Greenlanders becomes a very important and relevant research object. All languages undergo changes all the time, and they ought to in order to develop. Changes found in the language spoken / written by young Greenlanders, are they just such normal changes or are they warnings against future language decay?
The presentation will present some results from an on-going research project about young Greenlanders’ language usage: the syntactical structures of their Kalaallisut, their code-switching to Danish and English and the degree of cohesion of their language – both in spoken language and in written language.
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