Kaktovik Inupiaq numerals

Inuit, like other Eskimo languages (and Celtic and Mayan languages as well), uses a vigesimal counting system. Inuit counting has sub-bases at 5, 10, and 15. Arabic numerals were not adequate to represent the base-20 system, so students from Kaktovik, Alaska, came up with the Kaktovik Inupiaq numerals,[1] which has since gained wide use among Alaskan Iñupiaq, and is slowly gaining ground in other countries where dialects of the Inuit language are spoken.[1]

The numeral system has helped to revive counting in Inuit, which had been falling into disuse among Inuit speakers due to the prevalence of the base-10 system in schools.

The picture below shows the numerals 119 and then 0. Twenty is written with a one and a zero, forty with a two and a zero, and four hundred with a one and two zeros.

The corresponding spoken forms are:

atausiq malġuk piŋasut sisamat
tallimat itchaksrat tallimat malġuk tallimat piŋasut quliŋuġutaiḷaq
qulit qulit atausiq qulit malġuk qulit piŋasut akimiaġutaiḷaq
akimiaq akimiaq atausiq akimiaq malġuk akimiaq piŋasut iñuiññaŋŋutaiḷaq

(19 is formed by subtraction from iñuiññaq 20, just as 9 is formed by subtraction from 10. See Inupiat language.)

In Greenlandic Inuit language:

Ataaseq Marluk Pingasut Sisamat Tallimat Arfinillit Arfineq-marluk Arfineq-pingasut
Qulaaluat, Qulingiluat,
Qulit Isikkanillit,

(Dependent on the region in Greenland. Numbers differ, as do accents)


  1. 1 2 http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/SOP/SOPv2i1.html#oldway
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