A strong partnership
Work on the lexicon began in 1984 as part of the Ivujivik-Puvirnituq-UQAT group’s Inuit teacher training programs. It had become clear that specialized Inuktitut terminology had to be developed for use in education. There simply was nothing like that available at the time or indeed until last Friday’s launch. The project continued over the years, drawing on high-level Inuktitut speakers and academics from a variety of educational fields to develop a custom lexicon specific to the task. “When I first joined the lexicon team, I didn’t know it would go this far,” said Siaja Mangiuk, a teacher in Ivujivik. “I thought it would be just for us. I am so proud. We had lots of teleconferences where we created new Inuktitut words. We worked hard and spent many hours over the years, but it’s worth it because it will help everyone. It’s going to be a lot faster for the new generation of teachers, having this to refer to.”
The right tool for the job
“It’s a tool, like the dictionary,” said Sarah Angiyou, a teacher in Puvirnituq. “We’ll use it to perpetuate our mother tongue. It’s very important to continue the work and get the lexicon into students’ hands. That’s how we can keep our language alive.” The launch of the lexicon is the culmination of a complex, multi-step process to arrive at a consensus on every translation, every Inuktitut word, and every definition.
“The lexicon has to be seen as a living, open-ended resource,” said Véronique Paul, research agent at the Unit for Research, Training and Development in Education in Inuit and First Nation Contexts (URFDEMIA) of UQAT. “The proposed Inuktitut terms in the lexicon are developed based on the understanding expressed and shared by elders.”
International Year of Indigenous Languages
The launch of the lexicon is a novel contribution to the International Year of Indigenous Languages, which calls for renewed efforts to recognize and value Indigenous languages and their crucial relationship to identity, cultural diversity, social integration, communication, education, and development. Inuktitut language is under threat, and the lexicon will help teachers-in-training to learn, while paving the way for the new generation of Inuit teachers to develop a professional discourse and work out how to educate young Inuit in their native language.
To view the lexicon, click here.
For further information: Catherine Bérubé-Leblanc, Information Officer, Communications and Recruitment, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 819-762-0971, ext. 2079