Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) is the official language of Greenland. It belongs to the Inuit branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family, whose typological features include polysynthesis (in Kalaallisut, hundreds of productive derivational suffixes) and a rich system of inflections.
Kalaallisut inflectional system distinguishes three word categories: verbs inflect for mood; nouns, for case; particles do not inflect. In addition, pronominal argument inflections distinguish two subcategories of verbs and nouns: intransitive verbs inflect for mood and the subject; transitive verbs, for mood, subject and object; common nouns, for number and case; and relational nouns, for possessor, number and case. Pronominal number inflections (for subject, object or possessor) indicate person, number and current centering status (proximate or obviative, i.e. top-ranked in the center or in the background of attention).
Syntactic dependencies are marked both on the head word (by pronominal argument inflections) and on the dependent phrase (by verbal mood or nominal case inflections). The case system is ergative. That is, intransitve subjects and transitive objects are in the absolutive case (unmarked), in contrast to transitive subjects in the ergative case. In Kalaallisut nominal possessors are also in the ergative case.
The following Kalaallisut texts are classified as easy (E), intermediate (I) or advanced (A). They come from school readers (E or I) or Kalaallisut literature (A) written or translated by native speakers. The English glosses and translations are mine. All texts are transcribed in standard Kalaallisut orthography except that I have replaced the allophones (i.e. predictable variants) [e], [o], [ff] with the respective phonemes /i/, /u/, /v/. For example, standard orthography oqaluttuaa (his story), which reflects the predictable lowering of high vowels before uvular consonants (here, the phoneme /u/ is lowered to the allophone [o] before the uvular stop /q/) is transcribed phonemically, as uqaluttuaa.
- Piniartup uqaluttuaa (A hunter's story). Emergency kayak repairs on an iceberg (E).
- Aataarsuup irnikasia (Aataarsuaq's kid son). Eskimo myth. Murder and revenge (E).
- Aapakaaq kuukkuuriarlu (Monkey and Crocodile). Hindi animal tale (E).
- Mitinnguaq (Little Eider). Eskimo myth. Hubris and its cost (I).
- Silliarnamik uqaluttuaq (About Silliarnaq). Eskimo myth. People and other animals (I).
- Paakujuk (Sooty). A husky pup and his boy (I).
- A shaman's definition of poetry. Conversation with Orpingalik, a Netsilik shaman, recorded by Knud Rasmussen in early 1900s. (A)
- Appaliarsuit (Little auks). Natural history. (A)
- From Kalaaq miiraqataalu (Kalaaq and his friends), by J. Platou. Daily life of children in the Thule district, North Greenland. (A)
- From Histi piaraq tappiitsuq, Kalaallisut translation of The Blind Colt by G. Rounds. (A)
- From Naya Nuki: Niviarsiaraq qimaasoq, Kalaallisut translation of Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran, by K. Thomasma. (A)
- From Piiaasup pania Ronja, Kalaallisut translation of Ronja, Röverdotter (Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter), by A. Lindgren. (A)
- From Qillarsuakkunik uqalualaaq (Qillarsuaq's saga), by Inuutersuaq Ulloriaq. Story of a migration from Canada to Thule. The author, Inuutersuaq Ulloriaq, recorded this story based on eyewitness testimony by his wife’s grandmother, who had participated in this migration as a child and told him about it in her old age. (A)
Note to native speakers
Kalaaliuguit nutsikkakkalu kukkunersiorniarlugit piffissaqaruit assut qujamasuutigissagaluarpara. Nutsikkakka pillugit qanoq ikkaluartumilluunniit oqaasissaqaruit allaffigilaarniannga uunga