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Some Ethnolinguistic Notes on Polar Eskimo


Stephen Leonard

This book serves as an insightful ethnographic introduction to the language and oral traditions of the Inugguit, a sub-group of the Inuit who live in north-west Greenland. A unique work, it encompasses an overview of the grammar of Polar Eskimo – a language spoken by about 770 people – as well as a description of their oral traditions (drum-dancing and story-telling) and the most extensive glossary of the language compiled to date. The book presents the Polar Eskimo language in the orthography established by the author in conjunction with the local community in Greenland, an extremely difficult task for a language made up of such an aberrant phonology and with no written tradition. By exploring their ways of speaking and ways of belonging, Leonard provides an original ethnographic interpretation of the nature of Inugguit social organization and their world-view. Some Ethnolinguistic Notes on Polar Eskimo will serve as an invaluable resource for linguists who specialise in the Eskimo-Aleut group and will be of much interest to anthropologists working in the Arctic region.
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Chapter 13: The Texts



The Texts

Modern Texts in Polar Eskimo

The texts that follow are the only modern poetry written in Polar Eskimo that I have ever seen. Juulut Daorana has in the past ten years also apparently written poetry in Polar Eskimo, but I have never been able to get a copy of it. The author of these two poems below is Magssanguaq Qujaukitsoq. Born in 1977, Magssanguaq is a young poet who grew up in Qaannaq. He left the region to complete his education and lived for some years in Aaasiaat and Nuuk before moving to Uummannaq where he lives today and works as a teacher. The poems have been produced in the orthography that the author chose and the translations are his own. For the benefit and interest of comparison, I have not reproduced them in the orthography I use in the glossary.


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