Tuesday, 25 October 2011

"talking eskimo"

I may have given the wrong impression that I'm visceral about the term "Eskimo" in my last blog entry. Well, I'm not really offended by the term because I happen to think that revisionism is not only ideological stupidity but a highly suspect practice of denying historical facts in favour of egoism (not only in terms of morality but also because it is blatantly arrogant and pretentious, insane). It is no better than evolution- and Shoah- deniers, and right-wing nuttery.

I love the term "Eskimo". Not only does the term have a look and feel of a traditional hooded parka about it, but it also has serious historical/political/philosophical/cultural value that is not immediately obvious to the layperson. If scholarship and history were determined by ignorant populist sentiments we would be doomed to repeat historical monstrosities over and over again. At the least, we'd deny that Canada was ever tainted by colonialism. Corporatism and its irresistible imperative to sanitize, censor and prepackage everything would win; ignorance and intellectual immaturity would win.

As a linguist, I appreciate Eskimo's historical/etymological and political value. It is a badge I wear most proudly, and in honour of my forebears who knew nothing of it and never felt diminished by it. "never felt diminished by it" - what a great phrase.

The vulgar use of the term is nothing like the scientific nomenclature: Eskimo-Aleut Language Family, which I feel a close connection to. When it is used to denigrate my culture and language, it merely degrades and disabuses the user of their mistaken ideas of who we are. I dare neo-con non-Inuit to use it in our face so we may see clearly how ignorant and infantile they really are to try and lump us as ignorant and stupid.

People use "it's all Greek to me" to imply their own ignorance and lack of education; "talking eskimo" is it's opposite. This is my only issue on the matter. I think ITK (the Canadian national Inuit org) should have taken the time to explain these subtleties.

Jay

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