Inuktitut on the Net

Damien Hall halldj at
Thu Nov 4 01:15:58 UTC 2004

>>From the BBC News website.

I recommend you look at the link if you're interested, in order to be able to
see the pictures.  For those who can't, I've copied and pasted the text.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania


Inuit language finds home on net

(Caption to a photo of a snowy landscape:  'The communities are spread across a
vast area')

Inuktitut speakers will soon be able to have their say online as the Canadian
aboriginal language goes on the web.

Browser settings on normal computers have not supported the language to date,
but has changed that.

It provides a content management system that allows native speakers to write,
manage documents and offer online payments in the Inuit language.

It could prove a vital tool to keep the language alive in one of the most remote
communities on earth.

Vital link

([sic] - Caption to a picture of the Inuktitut script:  'The Inuktitut langauge
was developed in the 18th Century')

Inuktitut is spoken by the Inuit people living in Nunavut, northern Canada,
which is an area two to three times the size of France.

An historic agreement signed with the Canadian government in 1999 allowed the
communities living there independence to run their land how they chose.

In this long-established society, the modern medium of the internet is proving a
breath of fresh air.

"There are 25 settlements, 30,000 people and no roads. It is a huge area of land
and the internet is tailor-made for these groups," said Oliver Zielke, the chief
executive of Web Networks, a non-profit organisation based in Canada which
provides web services for socially committed groups.

Web Networks worked with the Piruvik Centre of Iqualuit, the capital of Nunavut,
to develop the system.

Reaching goals

"It was a big challenge to give the Inuit and Inuktitut speakers the ability to
have web pages published in their native language," said Mr Zielke.

"A lot of people have older computers and limited ability to use technology," he

With high-speed satellite net access planned for the region and the website
providing the easy-to-use tools to make publishing easy, that is about to

"The worldwide web can seem like a foreign place to these people but now they
can be players in that world. The internet will eventually be one of the basic
tools that the Inuit people use," predicted Mr Zielke.

The technology behind can be used for other syllabic languages such
as Cree, Oji-cree and Korean.

The government of Nunavut is committed to making Inuktitut its working language.

"This type of development puts that goal within reach," said Eva Aariak,
Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.

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