Grammar » 41 » Telling Time

To tell time in Nunatsiavummiutut, we use root words that originated with German missionaries and reflect German numbers.

We then add affixes and endings to talk about where the hands of the clock are at a paricular moment.

To say it is on the hour, you simply add the verb ending -vuk:

ainsi one
ainsivuk It is one o’clock.
suvai two
suvaivuk It is two o’clock.
suvailfa twelve
suvailfavuk It is twelve o’clock.

To indciate the time is after a particular hour, we talk about the motion of the long hand of the clock (takijua) towards the half hour. To do this we do the following:

1. Add the motion affix -liak to the root word representing the number:


2. We then take the root word apvak (meaning half) and add the motion affix, -giattuk- plus the affix -lik- (to indicate the action is underway). In this way we can talk about the long hand moving towards the half hour:

ainsiliak apvagiattulittuk from 1:00 to 1:30
suvailiak apvagiattulittuk from 2:00 to 2:30
âttaliak abvagiattulittuk from 8:00 to 8:30

To say that it is coming up on a particular hour, you add the affixes -giattuk- + -lik- to the root:

ainsigiattulittuk from 12:30 to 1:00
suvaigiattulittuk  from 1:30 to 2:00
âttagiattulittuk from 7:30 to 8:00

To say that it is almost a particular hour, you can also use the affixes -kasâk- + -lik:

ainsikasâlittuk It is almost 1 o’clock.
suvaikasâlittuk It is almost 2 o’clock.
âttakasâlittuk It is almost 8 o’clock.
ainsiliak apvakasâlittuk It is almost 1:30
suvailiak apvakasâlittuk It is almost 2:30
âttaliakliak apvakasâlittuk It is almost 8:30


What about if you want to say that something will happen at a particular hour? In this case, you use the ending -mi

Sunaliami aullaniakKise? What time will you (3+) be departing?
AullaniakKugut senami. We (3+) will be departing at 10.
Sunaliami utilâkKen Kauppat? What time will you be returning tomorrow?
UtilâkKunga sepami Kauppat. I will be returning at seven.

If the event happened in the past, you can say the following:

suvai + met + tilugu =  
Suvaimettilugu utilaukKugut. It was two when we got back.
sepa + met + tilugu =  
Sepamettilugu nigikKauvunga. It was seven when I ate.


You may also hear people simplify this by saying the following:

UtilaukKugut suvaimi. We (3+) got back at two.
NigikKauvunga sepami. I ate at seven
Sunaliami tupakKauven?  What time did you get up?
TupakKauvunga âttami. I got up at eight.