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 9,700,000 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 hand.
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 orssunguvoq .
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 qavak.
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.
If, after all that instruction, you still want 9.7m acts of sexual intercourse, previous users of this site have enjoyed this