Of Duct Tape and Hovercraft
For several years I wrestled with the Inuktitut language. I finally had to give up in the face of the impossibility of learning a living language in a perfect vacuum. This is not exactly the realm of adult-education classes and low-priced bus fares . . . and Inuktitut movies can just about be counted on the fingers of one hand. I might have had better luck with Tocharian.
It was fun while it lasted, though.
It may never have occurred to you to wonder what happens when Monty Python meets Omniglot, and they both get together and meet my brain. Currently at seven variants—
—and that’s before we even get to the afterthoughts.
Never overestimate the intelligence of the record-buying public.
I’m tired of grammar. Let’s go visit the dictionary.
Why settle for Zap! or Pow! when the ultimate knockout line is ready and waiting?
. . . or, what happens when you discover an especially unappetizing noun-verb doublet.
This one just painted itself.
I used this line as a signature for years. Who could argue with the premise? And who could guess that the Inuktitut word for “duct tape” would prove so elusive?
A lie can run halfway around the world before I figure out how to say “halfway around the world” in Inuktitut.
Transplanting a material culture from one latitude to another is never easy. Sometimes it’s impossible.
You can’t keep a good line down.
What don’t they have a word for in Inuktitut? Nothing.
What is wrong with this sentence?
The inevitable follow-up to My hovercraft is full of eels. This time I didn’t have anything to use as a model, so I started from scratch. When you’re talking about eating glass, where else would you start?
No languages were harmed in the writing of this piece.
Inspired by a hopelessly incomprehensible sketch I once saw on YouTube. In English.
By the time you’re done with the hovercraft, it will be hard not to think of this line.
Never mind where I heard this. I don’t give away everything.
. . . in the unlikeliest of places.
The Congressional Record doesn’t hold a candle to the Nunavut Hansard.
On 1 April 1999, Nunavut had the first—and only—seating of the first session of its first Assembly. Somewhere along the line, the Inuktitut-language Hansard, the official record of this historic session, got misplaced. Maybe it never existed. Luckily someone held on to the Blues.
Essays from the classic Nunavut ’99 collection, transcoded so you can read them even if you’ve misplaced your Nunacom font files. It has to be a nasty shock when you think you’re getting ᐅᖃᓪᓚᐅᓯᕗᑦ, ᐅᕙᒍᑦ (Our Language, Our Selves) and instead they hit you with sc9MsyK5, s?A5. Or perhaps xt6 ckw0Jbs1m8V in place of the expected ᐊᑎᖅ ᖃᓄᐃᔾᔪᑕᐅᖕᒪᑦ? (What’s In a Name?).
Thoughts on the Nunavut Living Dictionary: past, present and—we can only hope—future.
When you start trying to write UCAS on your computer, it helps to get a grip on the difference between fonts, characters and input. Or maybe you just need to know how to get those blasted syllabic keyboards to work. This group of pages should help point you in the right direction.