Anthropologist to spend a year in northwest Greenland to save disappearing language

A British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions. Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in northwest Greenland, the world’s most northernmost people, and record their conversations and storytelling traditions to try and preserve their language.

Inuktun is an undocumented language with about 1,000 speakers. Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed. He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an “ethnography of speaking.”