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Greenlandic (Greenlandic: kalaallisut [kalaːɬːisʉt]; Danish: grønlandsk [ˈkʁɶnˌlænˀsk]) is an Eskimo–Aleut language with about 57,000 speakers, mostly Greenlandic Inuit in Greenland. It is closely related to the Inuit languages in Canada such as Inuktitut. It is the most widely spoken Eskimo–Aleut language. In June 2009, the government of Greenland, the Naalakkersuisut, made Greenlandic the sole official language of the autonomous territory, to strengthen it in the face of competition from the colonial language, Danish. The main variety is Kalaallisut, or West Greenlandic. The second variety is Tunumiit oraasiat, or East Greenlandic. The language of the Inughuit (Thule Inuit) of Greenland, Inuktun or Polar Eskimo, is a recent arrival and a dialect of Inuktitut.
Official language in
|Regulated by||Oqaasileriffik [kl]|
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Greenlandic is a polysynthetic language that allows the creation of long words by stringing together roots and suffixes. The language's morphosyntactic alignment is ergative, treating both the argument (subject) of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb in one way, but the subject of a transitive verb in another. For example, "he plays the guitar" would be in the ergative case as a transitive agent, whereas "I bought a guitar" and "as the guitar plays" (the latter being the intransitive sense of the same verb "to play") would both be in the absolutive case.
Nouns are inflected by one of eight cases and for possession. Verbs are inflected for one of eight moods and for the number and person of its subject and object. Both nouns and verbs have complex derivational morphology. The basic word order in transitive clauses is subject–object–verb. The subordination of clauses uses special subordinate moods. A so-called fourth-person category enables switch-reference between main clauses and subordinate clauses with different subjects.
Greenlandic is notable for its lack of grammatical tense; temporal relations are expressed normally by context but also by the use of temporal particles such as "yesterday" or "now" or sometimes by the use of derivational suffixes or the combination of affixes with aspectual meanings with the semantic lexical aspect of different verbs. However, some linguists have suggested that Greenlandic always marks future tense. Another question is whether the language has noun incorporation or whether the processes that create complex predicates that include nominal roots are derivational in nature.
When adopting new concepts or technologies, Greenlandic usually constructs new words made from Greenlandic roots, but modern Greenlandic has also taken many loans from Danish and English. The language has been written in Latin script since Danish colonization began in the 1700s. Greenlandic's first orthography was developed by Samuel Kleinschmidt in 1851, but within 100 years, it already differed substantially from the spoken language because of a number of sound changes. An extensive orthographic reform was undertaken in 1973 and made the script much easier to learn. This resulted in a boost in Greenlandic literacy, which is now among the highest in the world.
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