The Inuit language is spoken from Alaska through the Canadian Arctic to Greenland. But Canadian dialects are under pressure from colonial languages, and many are at risk of disappearing altogether. In addition to the deep socio-cultural significance of the Inuit language, its structure also reveals the properties of human language more generally. For instance, its individual words are particularly complex, sometimes encoding the equivalent of what would be entire sentences in other languages.
Dr. Richard Compton, Canada Research Chair in Transmission and Knowledge of the Inuit Language, is working with Inuit communities to document and revitalize their language. He and his research team are also analyzing its unique grammar to better understand how human languages vary.