Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Etymologies! Natsilingmiut and Ulukhaktok

As I read about Inuktitut and look over materials, little words and suffixes stick in my memory. And then it sometimes happens I look at a word (especially a place name) and suddenly realise how it’s made up—always an interesting epiphany. (Sort of like suddenly realising that “Cambridge” means “bridge over the river Cam”, perhaps. Not sure that really does it justice, though.)

Anyway, two recent words were Natsilingmiut ᓇᑦᓯᓕᖕᒥᐅᑦ and Ulukhaktok ᐅᓗᒃᓴᖅᑑᖅ.

Natsilingmiut came first; I realised it presumably came from natsik “seal” + -lik “place with something” + -miut “inhabitants of” = people from Natsilik, from the place with seals.

Later came Ulukhaktok: I thought, hm /h/ in the west corresponds to /s/ in the east, so that’d be Uluksaktok. And then I realised that the morphemes are presumably not Uluk-hak-tok but rather Ulu-khak-tok, and that it’s probably Uluksaqtuuq / ulu-ksaq-tuuq in eastern Inuktitut (Wikipedia confirms the final long vowel and the two qs): ulu “ulu (traditional Inuit knife)” + -ksaq “potential” + -tuuq “place with lots of something” = “place with lots of ‘potential ulus’”, which matches the translations “the place where ulu parts are found” and “a large bluff where we used to collect raw material to make ulus” which the Wikipedia article gives. I suppose the literal “potential ulus” means “raw materials for ulus; parts for ulus” in this case.

And given what else I’ve read about western dialects, I can imagine that the /kh/ in Ulukhaqtuuq is pronounced as [x].

Another thing that comes to mind with -ksaq is what I read somewhere… something along the lines of how items on shelves in a shop are called something with -ksaq in it because they are potentially for sale—and items in the storeroom of the shop would have two -ksaqs in them because they are only potentially “potential-items-for-sale”!

Tags: inuktitut
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