Whenever you travel to a new country, it is always a polite gesture to learn at least a few words in the local language. For Greenland, this means learning a few essential terms in Kalaallisut – the Greenlandic language. Read on to learn your first words in Greenlandic and their correct pronunciation.
The official language of Greenland is Kalaallisut (West Greenlandic). As the English name implies, there are actually several different dialects (also East Greenlandic and North Greenlandic), and the language itself is part of the Eskimo-Aleut family that is spoken across arctic Canada and Alaska.
This means that it bears no resemblance at all to Danish (the second language spoken in Greenland) nor any of the other Nordic languages. Unfortunately, it is also completely different to English (the third language spoken in Greenland).
Learn how to say the words for ‘Greenland’ (Kalaallit Nunaat) and the West Greenlandic language (Kalaallisut) in the following short video:
The longest word in Greenlandic
The Greenlandic language is a polysynthetic language which means that affixes (beginnings) and suffixes (endings) are attached to the root word in order to form meaning. The result is that an entire sentence can be encompassed by a single word.
This is the longest word in the Greenlandic language. Read more about this seemingly impossible 156-letter word in our blog post dedicated to it.
Get started with your first words in Greenlandic
You may have already guessed from the above, but Kalaallisut it not the easiest language in the world. It is also not spoken very widely, with less than 60,000 people fluent in the tongue.
Fortunately, several of the most useful words are quite easy to remember and pronounce. Pack these in your travel bag for Greenland the locals will be most impressed!
Saying ‘Welcome’ in Greenlandic
One of the first words you are likely to see when you arrive in Greenland is Tikilluarit! This means “Welcome!” and it is quite prominent in each airport.
Watch the following short video for how to say ‘Welcome’ in Kalaallisut.
Salutations and Greetings in Greenlandic
When you want to greet someone or say goodbye to them, most of the words are similar enough to English that you shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering them.
Aluu = Hello
Baj = Bye
Kumoorn = Good morning
Kutaa = Good day
Kunaat = Good night
Takuss’ = See you later
The exception is Takuss’ (shortened from Takussaagut) – which means “see you later”. This is something you’ll hear a lot!
Watch the following short video for how to greet and farewell someone in Greenlandic.
Expressing agreement or disagreement
Saying “yes” and “no” is also fairly simple in Greenlandic,
Yes = Aap
No = Naamik
Learn how to pronounce them by watching this video:
Expressing thanks in Greenlandic
Possibly the most useful word you can learn for your vacation to Greenland is the word for “thank you” – Qujanaq. This is often shortened to Qujan (thanks) and the person you say it to will probably reply with Illillu (“you’re welcome”).
Learn how to pronounce these terms by watching the following video:
How to say ‘Awesome’ in Greenlandic
Finally, as you travel around Greenland, you will want a word to exclaim at all you are seeing and experiencing. The best option: Torrak!, which means “awesome” in English.
Learn how to pronounce Torrak by watching the following video:
Summary of your first Greenlandic Words
Congratulations! You now have 16 useful and relatively simple words in your Greenlandic vocabulary!
You can revise the full set in the following video:
You can also expand on this while you are in Greenland by taking a Crash Course in Greenlandic!