Interpreter/translators count themselves in

Develop Inuktitut words for statistics terminology



About 25 interpreter/translators from the Kitikmeot and Baffin regions gathered in Iqaluit last week to develop Inuktitut terminology for the complex world of statistics.

The Nunavut Bureau of Statistics organized the workshop in conjunction with the GN’s department of culture, language, elders and youth.

Participants developed 90 terms for statistics during the four-day workshop, as well as 22 terms for periods of time and another 10 miscellaneous terms.

There were no participants from the Kivalliq region of Nunavut or the Nunavik region of Quebec. However, Eva Aariak, Nunavut’s languages commissioner attended the workshop, along with the legislative assembly’s simultaneous interpreters and four elders who served as consultants. Jack Hicks, the director of evaluation and statistics for the GN served as facilitator for the workshop.

Working together, they recalled old words and developed new words for English terms that are gaining wider use in Inuit society.

English terms such as household and dwelling mean the same thing in Inuktitut. The distinction was in how Statistics Nunavut uses the information.

For example, the term developed for “household” is “iglumiuqatigiit,” meaning people living in the same house. For “dwelling,” the term developed was “iglu,” meaning the physical house and not the people.

The other challenge was developing terms for words that have similar meanings, such as “average” and “median.” The terms developed for “average” was “imaigajuktuq,” meaning a number multiplied and divided by another number. For “median,” the term developed in Inuktitut was “akulliqpaaq,” meaning right in the centre.

As Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut are distinct dialects of the Inuit language, interpreter/translators from the Kitikmeot region had their own list of terms, as well as their own way of speaking and writing. They also developed their terminology in half the time of Qikiqtaalungmiut interpreter/translators.

In Inuinnaqtun, “Child Tax Benefit” was translated as “paablalaut” meaning money for baby food, or “pablum.”

The workshop is the third of its kind since the creation of Nunavut. The first was held in 1999 and a second, focused on financial terms, was held this past May. Organizers plan to hold at least four workshops a year and record the results in the Living Dictionary.

Kitikmeot Elder Tommy Pigalak participated in the language development workshop for the first time. “I thought the workshop was very interesting. I learned a lot of words that I didn’t know,” he said.

Henry Ohokanoak, an independent interpreter/ translator who does simultaneous Inuinnaqtun interpreting for Nunavut’s legislature, was pleased with the results. “It’s going to help me a lot in my line of work. Some of the government jargon are quite difficult to interpret or translate. I learned a lot and I would like to see more development workshops like this,” he said.

Simeonie Natsiq, originally from Repulse Bay and now a resident of Iqaluit, also participated in the workshop. “The process of elimination and getting down to the root meaning of the word was very effective. Although it was quite frustrating at times, it allowed us to get to the heart of the meaning and a good product in the end,” he said.

Elders Sammy Qaumagiak and Enoapik Sageatook, both from Iqaluit, served as the Baffin dialect consultants during the workshop. They agreed that they have read material that could have been better written.

“I’ve understood that some material could be better written for it to be more understandable,” Qaumagiak said. “Even though I am not a linguist, I am happy with the results of the workshop.”

“We learned from you younger people about the details of statistics and what is involved. We learned from each other,” Sageatook added.

Lazarie Otak and Chris Douglas of CLEY agreed that it was a successful workshop. Otak said, “If we all agreed on something, it’s obvious we won’t accomplish as much. The fact that people from different communities can work on the same term gives strength to what has been developed and I know for a fact that they’ll be usable.”

Douglas said the real test for the new terms will come when they are used by interpreter/translators. CLEY will be reviewing the workshop and will also ask for some feedback from participants.

However, there is still no mechanism for evaluating the terms developed during language workshops.

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