Here’s a short piece of text for Lesson 4 which
comes from a well-known novel translated into
Greenlandic. I’m not going to name it or translate it for now, but I think it’s
very guessable, so please put your thoughts as to the book title (or any
translation thoughts) in the comments.
pisarneq – (being)normal with4th person possessive –ni (its
own…).Pi- is often used as a
“dummy” word root without much meaning, a similar role to the word “it” in
English sentences like “it’s raining”. After that we have -sar-(/-tar) which signifies habitual action and –neq a verbal noun. So together it
literally means something like “the condition in which it habitually is”, i.e.
qaanger- – exceed, go past with3rd
person object contemporative mood, singular object –lugu (while (verbing) it)
18-inik – here pronounced atteninik reflecting the Danish word
for eighteen, in the instrumental case (by, with, “more specifically”)
issippoq – it is cold. With 18-inik,
itexpresses the idea of 18 [degrees] of cold i.e. -18C.
nittaappoq – it is snowing
uanga - here combined with –lu and.
Uanga commonly means I, andwith an intransitive verb would be in the absolutive case (e.g. uanga kalaaliuvungaI am a Greenlander), but note
thatuangaalso has the same
form in the relative case, as it is here, governing (possessing) the wordoqaaseriunnaarsimasattut
which follows. It acts as the agent of the passive nominal ending –saq, described below, giving a meaning
of [by me] or [my].
maanna – now
oqaaseq - word.
Derived from this is oqaasii (their words) with 3rd
person plural possessive –i (note:
alternative form of –at), which is
used to denote a language, for example kalaallit
oqaasii (literally: of.the.Greenlanders their.words). Here oqaaseq is combined with –ri(vaa)/-raa
(to have as one’s…), -iunnaar- (no more), -sima- (perfective affix, to have done…), -saq/-gaq (passive nominaliser – a
thing which is (verbed)), and–tut (/-sut) (equative case, like, as, in the manner of. When –tut/-sut used with nationalities it usually
describes speaking in their language, e.g. kalaallisut[oqaluttarpoq] meaning literally [he speaks] like a Greenlander or more
naturally [he speaks] Greenlandic). Note that here the equative case ending has a double -t- which signifies a truncated first person singular possessor -v- + -tut giving -ttut which complements uanga.
So together uangaoqaaseriunnaarsimasattut means literallyin the language which is no
longer had [as a language] by me,or
more naturally in the language which is
no longer mine
aput – snow. Usually means “snow on
the ground” as opposed to “snow in
the air” but in this case it has a more generic meaning, as is clear from
the remainder of the sentence.
taaneqartarpoq – is called from taavaahe/she names it and–neqar-passive suffix and –tar- habitual suffix
qanik – fallingsnow, snow in the
air, snowflake. Based on this alsonoteqannerpoq – it is snowing which is another
(regional) term used alongside nittaapoq
Clearly having an article about
an Eskimo-Aleut/Inuit language with multiple words for snow begs some
questions! For a definitive discussion about how many words there are for snow
in these languages, I highly recommend Geoffrey Pullum’s The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax. The title of the book gives you a bit of a clue to the answer…
angisooq – large, plural angisuut
aligoq – crystal. The plural form is a slightly irregular aliggut with a doubled (geminate)
consonant. For words like this, the plural form is used as the base for oblique
cases such as –mi, -mik, and in this case –tut. Hence aliggutut like a crystal
or like crystals
ippoq – is. Here in nominal mood, absolutive plural form, ittut. Together with aliggutut it gives an adjectival form being like crystals which is in
apposition to the preceding and following plural descriptive terms. It’s not
completely clear to me, but I suspect these plural terms are referring to an
implied qaniit snowflakes (plural ofqanikabove) as the subject of the final part of the sentence. Note also
that the stand-alone verb ippoqis only used is a few settings, as with –tut here. It also occurs in the phrase
qanorippit? How are you? (originally qanoq
oqimaa*-to be heavy; with –ssuseq “the
condition of being” (makes verbal nouns), -qar-have,
-nngi*-not -ngaja*-almost–toq (plural –tut) nominal mood, absolutive. Hence oqimaassuseqanngingajattut which almost does not have weight or almost weightless
nakkaa*- fall together–(l)lutik contemporative mood, intransitive plural form: [while they are] falling
sequtserpaa – to pulverise it, turn to powderwithpassive -gaq (plural form- kkat)
giving pulverized , here with
equative case ending –tut giving sequtsikkatut like powder[ed things]
qaleriipput – they
lie on top of one another. From thisqaleriissatorqaleriiaat – things which
[are to] lie on top of one another, i.e.
a stack. Here the full word isqaleriissaattut again with equative –tutasstacks, in stacks. I
don’t quite follow the full breakdown of this word which appears to be qaleriissa+at+tut. Since qaleriissatstack is already a plural form in Greenlandic (like scissors or pants in English), the central –at-
could be the third person possessive “their” to give a sense of plurality i.e. fallingtogether in their stacks, but I’m not entirely sure.
[Update: Double checking with “word splitting” software Qimawin by Henrik Aagesen, which analyses and breaks down Greenlandic words to their constituent parts, this is the correct breakdown of the word. Screen grab of this handy tool below:]
nuna – land, ground (absolutive, singular form). As in Kalaallit Nunaat the land of the Greenlanders or Greenland. Similarly found in cognate
word Nunavut our land (in Inuktitut). Here
it means ground and is the object ofqallerlugu.
qaqortoq – white. Here with instrumental case –mik
issi –chill, coldness, frost. Here with instrumental case –mik
Hence qaqortumik issimikwith a white frost
qallerpaa – he/she covers it,
here in the contemporative, transitive form with singular object –lugu ([while] [he/she/they is/are] covering it)
[Update 2 - translation now added]
It is freezing, an extraordinary -18C, and it’s
snowing, and in the language that is no longer mine, the snow is ‘qanik’ – big,
almost weightless crystals falling in stacks and covering the ground with a
layer of pulverized white frost.
As ever, if
there are any questions please ask. Any corrections by native speakers are also