Facebook now available in Inuktitut

Initiative to translate platform to Inuktitut result of 4-year partnership between Meta, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated’s Facebook page now translated to Inuktitut as part of a collaboration with Meta. (Image courtesy of Meta)

By Meral Jamal

Facebook is now available in Inuktitut.

The South Baffin dialect is a new official language setting for users on Facebook’s desktop interface, announced Meta, the company that owns Facebook, in a news release Friday.

The translation is the culmination of a four-year partnership between Meta and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to promote daily use of the Inuit language spoken across Nunavut.

NTI president Aluki Kotierk says she shared the idea with Meta’s senior director Kevin Chan in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Aluki Kotierk)

NTI president Aluki Kotierk said she shared the idea with Meta’s senior director, Kevin Chan, in 2017.

She said having a mainstream social media platform like Facebook translated to Inuktitut “validates how important our language is.”

“Having this very modern, mainstream social media platform available in Inuktitut gives us a sense of validation that our language is not inferior to English, it’s not inferior to French, that it is a whole language that can be used in the modern world.”

The translation was led by the Pirurvik Centre in Iqaluit, with approximately 4,500 words translated to Inuktitut.

In some cases, Pirurvik created new words for the Facebook interface because there were no equivalent translations. This includes the term “Facebook page,” which will now be known as “Facebook makpigaq.”

Debbie Reid, Meta’s Indigenous policy manager, said the project shows how the Inuktitut language and Facebook platform can evolve and adapt to each other.

“To me, it’s the living language and it’s the discovery of new ways of using the language for 21st-Century technology.”

Facebook is the most-used social network in Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories, according to Media Technology Monitor’s latest report on media technology penetration and usage.

Reid said she believes making Facebook available in Inuktitut might especially help younger Inuit who are eager to learn their language.

“Facebook is an amazing communication tool, but I also think it’s going to be an amazing learning tool,” she said.

“It’s always amazing to me to see new ways of maintaining language, sharing language, bringing it back with a new way of speaking it, new ways of reading it.”

The launch of Facebook in Inuktitut aligns with the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages, meant to draw attention to the critical decline of many Indigenous languages across the world, the news release stated.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Uvanga on

    Nunatsiaq should mention the actual person behind the actual work. Jeela Palluq needs recognition for being a huge part of this entire project. Love this collaboration but don’t leave out the person behind the scenes.

  2. Posted by Terry on

    Good work, Aluki!

    • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

      Jeela Palluq.

  3. Posted by Metaface on

    This is honestly probably one of the best steps taken so far to preserve the language, considering how much Nunavummiut use Facebook.

  4. Posted by earth3rd on

    What dialect is it in? Is there an official dialect that covers all of Nunavut?

  5. Posted by Good Start for Sure on

    So, anything about the rest of Nunavut’s indigenous languages? This focus on south Baffin dialect, while laudable, is very exclusionary. It certainly doesn’t represent all Inuit in the territory, that’s for sure. In many ways, the focus on that dialect, let alone Inuktitut, breeds resentment.

    • Posted by chwart on

      If you want it used in the workplace and taught in schools and want businesses such as Meta to use it and want settlers to learn and use it, a dialect will have to be settled on as a main language. The task of doing this which each dialect is too huge at this point. Projects will fizzle and die. People from North Baffin seem to be able to communicate with South Baffin fine when you see each other and chat. Inuinnaqtun is another can of worms, but the communities that use these languages have a responsibility to keep them thriving. If anyone in the community makes even a minimal effort, the government will throw money at them. The people who started Pirurvik centre saw a need to do that, and the government responded with support.

      • Posted by Kurious on

        Why do you call people settlers?

      • Posted by Stop the Oppression on

        I was talking about languages, not mere dialects, and most certainly not the artificial idea of “Inuktut”. Inuinnaqtun is a distinct language from Inuktitut and all of its dialects. Our government ignores this and focuses only on the south Baffin. This linguistic oppression needs to stop.

        Stop the “the communities that use it” crap and understand that there is a need to have all Inuit languages respected and preserved, just not that of the rich and powerful.

        • Posted by Chicker on

          You specifically mentioned dialects. Twice.
          Anyway, this project wasn’t an attempt to represent everyone in the territory. Someone in South Baffin cared enough about their language to start a school for learning Inuktitut , and now they are used for other projects as well, and because of that, NTI was able to commission this project. The government didn’t start Pirurvik Centre. It was individuals who wanted their language to be used and preserved.
          If someone who speaks Inuinnaqtun started a business or movement for the purpose of teaching and preserving their language, there could be a Facebook page in that language too. As far as I can tell, no one has done that. I believe anyone is welcome to make that effort though.

          • Posted by Martin Gurri on

            In the minds of many Nunavummiut Government is understood as an omnipotent force with the power to act on their universe in nearly any way it chooses.

            This force, of course, regularly lets them down, and its failure to meet their expectations, given its unlimited power, appears as a choice on its behalf. So these let downs become acts of negligence, abusive, or as we see above a form of “oppression.”

            These unrealistic expectations are, in my opinion, the source of so much of the bitterness, even nihilism, we see emerging among our youth today.

          • Posted by jawbones on

            As usual, NTI only pays attention and gives out anything and everything only to the far East and Middle East of Nunavut Territory. Never mind the West, there on their own. Disgusting.

            • Posted by Coart on

              Disgusting? Has anyone in the west spearheaded any effort to preserve, teach or promote their language? If someone makes even the smallest effort, NTI and the GN will throw all kinds of support their way. NTI didn’t do this. They were able to commission it because of the work Pirurvik Centre did. Who would NTI commission to do the same project for Inuinnaqtun? No one in the west seems to care enough at this point to do anything tangible for their dialects or language.

            • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

              Why does it always have to beInuinnaqtun vs. Inuktitut? Does anyone from there know about grassroots? You have to do something about your language, if it so distinct from Inuktitut. The Government will not do it for you. It has to start from grassroots society.
              This complaint about Inuinnaqtun not being paid enough attention is getting old when none of the supposed Inuinnait aren’t doing anything to preserve it.

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