THE COMPLETE INUTTITUT VOCABULARY COLLECTED BY WILLIAM RICHARDSON CA.1765-1771
Keywords:Labrador, Inuttitut, William Richardson, Vocabulary
William Richardson is known to researchers of Labrador history for his account of a 1771 voyage along the coast of southern Labrador. A re-examination of the Richardson material at the University of Toronto Libraries revealed a 92-entry Inuttitut vocabulary that has heretofore never been published and is among the earliest collected in the English language. Many of the entries in the vocabulary directly reflect the nature of the relationship between Inuit and Europeans at the time, namely the exchange of furs and sea mammal products for objects of European manufacture. In order to assess the vocabulary's relevance and authenticity, this article presents research findings on Richardson's naval career, which show that he voyaged to western Newfoundland and southern Labrador each year between 1765 and 1771. During these voyages he encountered not only Inuit, but naval officers, Moravian missionaries, and others familiar with Inuit language and culture, who might have been the source of his material.