Fighting to Preserve Inuktitut:
Kevin Kablutsiak Brings His Passion to the Editing Suite.
Who do you call when 25% of the footage for your TV series is filmed in Inuktitut? Picture This contacted Kevin Kablutsiak.
Kablutsiak, a former CBC North reporter, comes from the Northern community of Arviat, Nunavut. Kablutsiak’s first language is Inuktitut, but he also learned English at a very young age. In his hometown children are taught English in school, but, according to Kablutsiak, he begin learning even earlier through the media and church.
Inuktitut is the native language of many Inuit Canadians. It is an official language in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. However, the language varies greatly from community to community.
It is this dialectical variance that led Kablutsiak to collaborate with Inuit Tapriit Kanatami in arranging an Inuit language summit this fall. At this summit, Kablutsiak aims to allow for an open debate on the topic of standardization of the Inuktitut language.
The language summit will be the initiation of the new Inuit language task group. This group has been formed to research the logistics behind the language standardization. Kablutsiak wants the summit to be a place for the Inuktitut-speaking community “to come together to get a common understanding of where (they) are all at in (their) written language across Inuit Nunangat (Homeland).”
He says a standard Inuit language writing system will help to unify the community. In the modern age of globalization “Inuit are up against and unprecedented immersion of non-Inuktitut languages, “ so now is a critical time for the community to unite and save the language.
This standardization does not mean that all dialects will be eliminated. The task force only wants to create a system with one common orthography and one set of rules that can be taught in schools; one written language with many dialects.
The variance in dialects even affected Kablutsiak in the editing suite. The Inuit in the Watchers of the North series are from Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven, so their spoken language, Natsilingmiutut, differs from Kablutsiak’s. “There were times when I could not understand an entire sentence,” he said. “However, I was able to learn new words and began to understand better the more I listened to the spoken dialect.” There is enough of a disparity between the Arviat dialect and Natsilingmiutut to make it difficult for one to understand the other, but the similarity in their language structures make it easy to learn one if you know the other.
Kablutsiak has an extensive background in Inuktitut language studies, so, in the end, he was able to translate most of what we asked him to.