Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Hem-haw... that's not quite right

Sometimes I read literal Inuktitut translations of newspaper headlines that leave me hemming and hawing: 'no... that's not quite right'. Take the recent NewsNorth headline: Sea Ice Shrinking Fast which came out as Siku Mikillivalliajuq (literally 'ice shrinking').

I mean: sure, the ice can be said to 'shrink' as it melts, but a more precise translation should refer to the trend towards 'melting of multi-year ice': tuvatuqaq auppalliajummarik = 'multi-year ice quickly melting'.

I know it may seem nit-picking on my part, but I say this in the interest of providing as good an information to unilingual Inuit as possible. In terms of climate change discourse (both in the Inuit community and scientific/media) ensuring that translations are as accurate as possible will ensure misunderstanding is minimized (big and small) on all sides. IQ has much to offer because of its 'corporate memory' of climate and biological productivity information going back beyond living memory and this information can serve as part of the baseline data so it's important.

Besides, Inuit youth and younger adult Inuit have a great opportunity to learn 'new' old terms and save them from extinction.


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