THE MOST inspiring thing I have read all year is on a wall in the
Scandinavian exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London. It is not the
statistic that there were 9.7 million acts of sexual intercourse in Sweden in March 1967, but the excerpts from the
Schultz-Lorentzen Dictionary of the West Greenland Eskimo Language, 1927,
selected by Gunnar
Pettersson and Frank Perry.
When first I saw it, I laughed until I feared a passer-by would say:
Ata, sulorsimavutit. But the exhibition will
soon be over, so the Independent has gathered the essential elements
together for those readers who will miss the real thing.
The conventions of drawing- room comedy do not well survive translation to
Inuit. But it is still possible to construct a mini-saga from the materials to
First comes the invitation to an meal. Qujanaq says the well-bred guest, and excuses
himself - qajara iluarsaratdlardlara .
He may be a picky traveller, one who is aipalingiagpoq. That is all right, the hostess just
agssior poq. This would serve as the necessary
nivgornerqutigssag, even if our hero had rather
hoped for a bar of Cadbury's fruit and nut sukulaq instead. He would be
lucky to get a slice of toast spread with sungarnit.
The hosts' teenage son fidgets throughout the meal. His table manners are
appalling. Given his food, he mkagtorpa, until he
His doting parents excuse him after he rushes from the table. He is going
through a phase in which he is only interested in computer games. In fact, he
is a spotty anoraq.
The panik of the house, the anoraq's sister,
looks much more fun. The guest makes a bet with himself that she
kangunartuliorpoq, given half a chance.
But when he approaches her in the recesses of the igdlo, she
putuva and snaps that he has
arferup anernera, and is a dumb
He rushes out the door shouting Suingne. He
pugtarpoq - until at length he is exhausted.
The traveller, now alone in a vast waste of siko and snow,
reflects glumly that he always was pingortorpoq -
unlucky in throwing the harpoon.
If, after all that, you still want 9.7m acts of sexual
intercourse, previous users of this site have enjoyed this