Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 08, 2014 - 9:11 am

Learn Inuktitut by singing with homegrown Nunavut software

Pinnguaq's "Singuistics" incorporates Inuit art, music

DAVID MURPHY
Here's a screen shot of the iPad application Singuistics made by the Pangnirtung gaming firm, Pinnguaq. Users can learn one of three songs at present including this one, Paniapiutsunga, a song sung by a little girl as part of a game. Originally called 'Songbird' the application was officially released on iTunes Dec. 19, 2013. (SCREEN SHOT COURTESY OF RYAN OLIVER)
Here's a screen shot of the iPad application Singuistics made by the Pangnirtung gaming firm, Pinnguaq. Users can learn one of three songs at present including this one, Paniapiutsunga, a song sung by a little girl as part of a game. Originally called 'Songbird' the application was officially released on iTunes Dec. 19, 2013. (SCREEN SHOT COURTESY OF RYAN OLIVER)

Nunavut’s go-to tech startup company has launched their new Inuktitut learning app for iPad on the iTunes store.

Singuistics — known before as “Songbird” — is the newest app to come from the Pangnirtung tech company Pinnguaq.

The app allows users to sing and learn Inuktitut with the help of different images created by Nunavut artists.

“The whole thing is 100 per cent Nunavut based. There’s nothing in it that just doesn’t feel like it doesn’t come from Nunavut because artistically the whole thing is created all internally here,” the director of Pinnguaq, Ryan Oliver, said.

In Singuistics, you pick a song to practice in Inuktitut and record a final performance to the music — like karaoke.

“One of the main things when you’re learning a language is to actually speak it. So beyond just playing the song and studying the language lessons, the other two modes are practice and perform,” Oliver said.

“Essentially you just practice your pronunciation and you’re given a file at the end. You put it on Twitter, you can put on Facebook or you can email it,” he said.

Pinnguaq’s website also said the app is a “useful tool for Nunavut and Nunavik parents, daycares and schools who wish to complement their Inuktitut and cultural lessons with an interactive element.”

Oliver says the number of people using that app has been surprisingly good since it launched on Dec. 19. 

“We’re not taking the world over. But it’s actually better than we expected,” Oliver said.

Close to 100 people have downloaded the app since its release date.

And the medium length of time a person uses the app is 10 minutes.

“All in all it’s what you would expect from people that are curious,” Oliver said. “[It] means people are sticking around more than a quick glance.”

It’s not just people from Nunavut or even Canada downloading the app — Oliver said people from the U.S., Australia, Guatemala, Germany and France have also downloaded it.

And Oliver wants to expand the app to make it more marketable to other countries too.

“Now we’re starting to switch focus and look into other languages. Looking at getting the rights to some French songs and some German,” Oliver said.

“We’re also looking at other indigenous languages to see if there’s any support for that still.”

But first, Oliver hopes to end 2014 with about 10 Inuktitut songs on the app. Right now there are three, but Oliver will be adding three or four Inuktitut songs from Iqaluit’s The Jerry Cans in March or April.

“The main thing I have to do now is get art to accompany these songs,” Oliver said. 

“For Mamaqtuq we’re going to use their original video. So that’ll be pretty straightforward,” Oliver said.

“But for the other songs we’re using, we’re going to set it to art from the background and be able to promote artists as much as the musicians, as much as the technology.” 

You can download the free app on Apple iPad by following the link here.

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