Open for business
Inuinnaqtun language service offers translation

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

CAMBRIDGE BAY (Oct 18/99) - For Gwen Ohokak, setting up her own business took time. But she planned it that way.

Ohokak, who lives in Cambridge Bay, owns the translating and interpreting business Angulaalik & Associates.

She runs the Inuinnaqtun language services business out of her home.

"I took many years thinking about it. I moved slowly toward setting up a business. I planned for several years," she said.

"I've thought about the pros and cons."

As part of her plan, Ohokak has a view of where she would like the business to be in five years and she knows there could be lean years and prosperous ones as well.

Most recently, Ohokak worked for the GNWT's Department of Education.

She believes her new business is well-suited for the Central Arctic.

Inuinnaqtun, the language of the Inuit of the Central Arctic, is one of three Inuit languages. The others are Inuvialuit in the West and Inuktitut in the East.

Growing up, Inuinnaqtun was the only language Ohokak spoke.

"I didn't learn English until I went to school in the 1960s," she said.

Ohokak, who named Angulaalik & Associates after her father, said she hopes to promote, preserve and enhance Inuinnaqtun.

Funding from the Kitikmeot Corp. helped set up the business, she said.

Among the biggest challenges, she said, involves translating technical words -- many of which are contained in environmental documents generated by the resource industry -- for which there are no Inuinnaqtun words.

And she often finds some Inuinnaqtun words are being "Englishified."

"Adding an 's' to make something plural is not the proper way to speak the language," she said.