Talk:Inuit

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Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

If the plural of Inuit is Inuit then what is Inuits? Non standard or misspelling? Something else? RJFJR 02:43, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Nonstandard, I would say. Someone who types "Inuits" (probably) isn't just hitting the "s" key by mistake, but actually considers that to be the plural. -- Visviva 06:37, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Note that it can also refer to languages or dialects: “the Inuits spoken in the western Arctic sound closer to the nearby Inupiak dialects.”
The CanOD lists Inuit as “noun (pl. same)”, and lacks Inuits. NOAD says “pl. same or -its”, but also has a long note saying that Inuit people don't live in Alaska, and the use of the word in the USA is “usually in an attempt to be politically correct, as a general synonym for Eskimo”. Dictionary.com lists both plural forms, with Inuit preferred for people (as opposed to the language). American Heritage and Merriam-Webster list both forms. Michael Z. 2008-11-15 20:33 z
Say, what?! The language, AFAIK, is called Inuktitut, and Inuit is a plural noun referring to the people as a whole. Though uncommon in English, a single Inuit person is called an Inuk and a specific number of Inuit people — let’s say six — are called “six Inuit”.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 21:14, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that appears to be the correct Canadian usage. And it follows that the mass noun Inuit can also be used attributively, so: the Inuit, Inuit peoples, Inuit persons, an Inuit man, an Inuit.
The last example in your list is surely a count noun, not an attributive use of a mass noun…  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:06, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
But according to the non-Canadian dictionary sources, that's not the only usage. Per every one of NOAD, Dictionary.com, AH, and M–W, the family of languages is also called Inuit, and a member of these peoples is an Inuit. Michael Z. 2008-11-17 05:21 z
Alas! I can well believe that the Canadian (i.e., correct) usage is not the only one. I think we can safely label the “an Inuit” and “many Inuits” uses in reference to people as non-standard. What about the uses referring to the different languages? Would it be more correct to say *Inuktituts? (Inuktitut looks plural to me; I know almost nothing about the grammar of Inuktitut, but I’m guessing that nouns with -k or -q endings are singular, whereas those with -t endings are plural. Then again, the etymology section of Inuktitut seems to say that in Inuktitut, Inuktitut is an adjective meaning “like the Inuit”, or something like that…) Thoughts?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 17:06, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Plural of Inuk[edit]

A new discussion is taking place here. - -sche (discuss) 05:14, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Little silly to link to my talk page. Let's just do it here.
At 05:10, 27 April 2012 (UTC), Sche wrote:
Thanks for adding the Inuktitut ᐃᓄᐃᑦ! :) I don't think I agree with your recent edits to the English entry on the Inuit, though. Did you possibly misunderstand definition 1? "Any of several Aboriginal peoples of coastal Arctic Canada, Alaska, and Greenland" means "Any one [group of people] of the several groups of people living in coastal arctic North America", not "Any one individual person from the several groups of people". "Inuk" is currently defined as referring to "A member...", so I think the sense which is the plural of Inuk is, in fact, the second sense, "the collective members of one of these peoples" (which is thus not improper at all).
I didn't misunderstand anything, but you may have. The first sense is the plural of inuk — their native name, used to describe the peoples in Canada and Greenland, simply means "The More-than-One-Human-Being" and is the plural of inuk — and the second (using the word "People" to describe a single inuk) is simply wrong (per the prestige dialects of Inuit in Canada and Greenland) or questionable (it follows English treatment of some other groups, but the growing tendency in pedanty academia is to generally favor correct usage across languages unless some English usage is absolutely established). LlywelynII (talk) 00:36, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
To slightly muddy the waters, it's my understanding that at least some Inuit languages have a dual case, so that one inuk and another inuk taken together are neither inuk nor inuit but some other form entirely. (Probably safe to ignore that, of course).
More importantly, reading the conversation above, apparently American dictionaries do employ "Inuit" for a single inuk. So (Nonstandard) or (American English)? LlywelynII (talk) 00:45, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
The definition “individual members” is poorly worded, and so unclear as to number. And wouldn't it be clearer to separate the collective proper noun from the plural common noun:
  1. Collective noun for the Inuit race.
    The Inuit are a northern people.
  2. Plural form of Inuk.
    Two Inuit walked into a bar.
  3. (nonstandard) Inuk. Plural varies.
    Two Inuit(s) walked into a bar and met another Inuit.
The singular inuit can also be analyzed as an adjective or adjectival noun, like the singular “a Chinese.”
He is an Inuit man. He is Inuit. The Inuit put on his mukluks. Her Inuit friends.
 Michael Z. 2012-04-29 20:48 z