Inuktitut iPhone, iPad keyboards help strengthen Inuit language

It's suddenly a whole lot easier for Inuit to share their thoughts — in their language — in Facebook posts and text messages.

The Government of Nunavut and the Pirurvik Centre, a non-government organization focused on keeping Inuit culture alive, have launched a new set of Inuit-language keyboards for Apple products, including iPhones and iPads.

"We hope [the keyboards, known in Inuktitut as Naqittauttit] will help improve and facilitate the greater use of our language on popular mobile phones and tablets," said Minister of Languages George Kuksuk in a news release. 

People who use Microsoft have been able to type in Inuktitut syllabics for a decade, but this technology includes a new feature. 

Now Inuit-language speakers can type using Roman orthography and have their message appear in syllabics, provided the spelling is correct. 

Pirurvik's president, Leena Evic, says the ability to use syllabics on Apple devices will make Inuit languages more visible on social media. 

Keeping Inuit languages alive in the digital age, and with a dwindling number of speakers, has been a hot topic in the territory this year.

In March, Minister of Education Paul Quassa sparked debate among residents, when he announced that the government is looking at the possibility of no longer teaching syllabics in Nunavut schools, but rather, switching to the use of Roman orthography.