August 7, 2015

Congratulations, Alana!

Congratulations to Alana Johns and her colleagues Jean L. Briggs and Conor Cook on the publication of the Dictionary of Utkuhiksalingmiut Inuktitut Postbase Suffixes! The work is being published by Nunavut Arctic College and will be released shortly. Based on Jean Briggs's fieldwork conducted with speakers of the Utkuhiksalingmiutitut dialect of Inuktitut in Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven) and Qamani'tuaq (Baker Lake), the book is a comprehensive list of word-forming suffixes with examples taken from real speech and morphological and phonological analysis.

The work reflects the efforts of a team of scholars over many years - in Briggs's case, many decades. Briggs, an anthropologist, learned the Utkuhiksalingmiut dialect while conducting doctoral research between 1963 and 1968 in the camp at Chantrey Inlet, now located in Nunavut. Writing down words was originally just a learning aid for Briggs, but it evolved into a dictionary project once Briggs made contact with linguists working with Inuktitut, who were unfamiliar with the Utkuhiksalingmiut dialect. When the Utkuhiksalingmiut people moved to Gjoa Haven, they too became interested in documenting their dialect, given the new contact with other dialects that had the potential to alter it.

The idea of creating a dictionary of postbases was Alana’s, and her linguistic expertise and extensive knowledge of Inuktitut has been informing the project for over a decade. Conor Cook, a former University of Toronto student now working in Iqaluit, was in charge of the database searching, drafting and proposing entries and putting the manuscript together.

Congratulations to Alana and the entire team on this milestone.

(Photo courtesy of Sali A. Tagliamonte.)

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