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Canadians Translate Bible into Inuit Language

34-year project completed this week
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: May 18th, 2012 in News » World
Now in Inuktitut

A group of Inuit-Christians in Nunavut completed a 34-year project this week, translating the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament into the local Inuktitut-language, according to Haaretz.

The completed Inuit-language bible, which was a $1.7 million joint project by the Canadian Bible Society and the Anglican Church, will be unveiled at a June 3 ceremony at the igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, the National Post reported.

Five Anglican ministers, all Inuk, led the project. They say that one of the major difficulties they encountered was translating objects, such as certain types of trees that do not exist in the arctic, as there was often no direct translation in Inuktitut.

“It’s just like you have one word for snow but we have many words for snow,” Rev. Canon Jonas Allooloo, who was with the translation team since its 1978 inception, told the Post.

For certain animals that cannot be found in Nunavut, such as camels, English lone words were occasionally used.

“We borrowed a lot of words,” said Allooloo, who noted that the two most difficult words to translate were “peace” and “grace,” as these terms do not exist in the Inuit language. Translators had to instead describe the context surround these words in order to convey equivalent meanings.

There are approximately 50,000 Inuits living in Canada, according to the JTA.

Christians account for 90 per cent of Nunavut’s citizens and the territory has the highest churchgoers per capita rate in Canada.

Around seven in 10 Nunavummiut speak Inuktitut, while 2,000 cannot speak any other language.

“We’re happy to have this out of the way,” said Allooloo. “It’s been 34 years and we can do something else now.”

Related articles: Canada, Bible, Hebrew, New Testament, Inuit, Christians, Inuktitut, Nunavut, Canadian Bible Society, Anglican Church, Canon Jonas Allooloo, Iqaluit, church
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