About the Nunatsiavut Dialects

The Inuktut language spoken in the communities on the coast of Labrador is generally divided into two sub-dialects. One is spoken in the northern communities : Nunainguk (Nain), Apvitok (Hopedale), KipukKak (Postville) and Maggovik (Makkovik). This sub-dialect has some similarities with Inuttitut that is spoken in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec. In the community of kikiak (Rigolet) there are Inuit whose speech has its own characteristics and is considered a separate dialect.


Like other languages, the different sounds one makes when speaking Inuktut can help identify where someone is from. By comparing Nunatsiavummiutitut with other dialects spoken in Canada, some important differences in pronunciation can be heard.

Double Consonants

Inuktut learners will notice that some dialects use double consonants much more than others. There is, in fact, a gradual pattern that emerges as you move from west to east across the Canadian Arctic.

The dialects of the western Arctic feature a wide range of consonant combinations. To demonstrate just a few:

  inuktut Inuktut
  ublumi today
  taliqpik right side
  ilatka my family

In the eastern Arctic, many of these consonant combinations are pronounced and written as double consonants. The above words in Nunatsiavummiutitut are: 

  inuttut Inuktut
  ullumi today
  talippik right side
  ilakka my family

The Law of Double Consonants

Another characteristic that distinguishes Nunatsiavummiutitut from Inuktut dialects farther west, is what is sometimes called the law of double consonants. Combinations of consonants are shortened to a singular consonant sound when they come immediately after another consonant combination. This change happens in Nunatsiavut but not in the dialects spoken in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

Each of the words below has a consonant combination that is underlined. Note how the consonant combinations that come after them in Nunavut are shortened to a singular sound in the words from Nunatsiavut.

  dialect at the landing strip yesterday shallow
  Nunavut (Qikiqtaaluk) mivvimmi ippatsaq ikkattuq
  Nunatsiavut mipvim ippasak ikkatuq

Keep in mind that words in Nunatsiavummiutitut can have multiple combinations of consonants, but a double consonant will always be followed by a single consonant sound:

  kenaujakkuvimmi at the bank
  ânniasiupvimi at the hospital

Remember that the character combination ng is considered a single consonant sound even though it is written with two letters. It can, therefore, be followed by a consonant cluster:

  Kangattak to rise into the air
  KagitaujaKangittuk he/she doesn’t have a computer


In the dialects spoken in the Nunavut, Nunavik and the Northwest Territories many words end with a -q sound (written K in Nunatsiavut) . Nunatsiavummiutitut speakers, however, do not use this sound at the end of words and make a -k sound instead.

  dialect boat she is sleeping it is good
  Nunavut (Qikiqtaaluk) umiaq sinittuq piujuq
  Nunatsiavut umiak sinittuk piujuk



While many Inuktut dialects have adopted words from English, Nunatsiavummiutitut is the only dialect in Canada that has loan words from German. This is due to the influence of Moravian missionaries who lived and worked in Labrador over several centuries. Words for telling time and the days of the week, in particular, show the influence of German:

  ainsi one (o’clock)
  suvai two (o’clock)
  tarai three (o’clock)
  fiara four (o’clock)
  fimfi five (o’clock)
  Montâg Monday
  Tenistâg Tuesday
  Metivog     Wednesday
  Tonistâg Thursday
  Fraitâg     Friday
  jâri year


Inuttitut in kikiak (Rigolet)

Rigolet is the southernmost Inuit community in the world. Unlike the other Nunatsiavut communities, its early history was not shaped by Moravian missionaries who spoke German. For this reason, the language spoken in the community does not have the German loan words that are heard elsewhere in Nunatsiavut. Another important difference is that mixed double consonants are a strong feature of the language in Rigolet, similar to what is found in dialects west of Hudson Bay. This contrasts with the language spoken in northern Nunatsiavut communities where double consonants are less mixed. Here are some examples for comparison:

  Rigolet northern Nunatsiavut  
  tuktu tuttuk caribou
  angnak annak woman
  ingnik innik son
  pkua kkua those ones
  ukpik uppik snowy owl