100s of Words for Ice – a “precious knowledge”

“…focus attention on selected aspects of the world as it is taken to be by other cognitive systems, and provide intricate and highly specialised perspectives from which to view them, crucially involving human interests and concerns even in the simplest cases”

p. 125, Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: The framework. In: Roger Martin, David Michaels & Juan Uriagereka (eds.), Step by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, 89–155. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sigu – a mass of floating pack ice

Nunavait – the ice in the midst of scattered pack ice

Tamalaaniqtuaq – scattered pack ice, interspersed with patches of calm flat water

Puktaat – large floes

Puikaanit – vertical block ice

Qanilaq (*) – ice floes with overhanging ice

Taaglut (*) – large pieces of darker ice

Sanalait (*) – small floating pieces of dirt ice

From Kifikmi Sigum Qanuq Ilitaavut – Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary.

from 100+ Inuit Words for Sea Ice: A Guest Post by Igor Krupnik (Rogers Archaeology Lab)

Igor Krupnik, Chair of Anthropology and Curator of Circumpolar Ethnology, Smithsonian, on IPY Project (166) – SIKU, Sea Ice Knowledge & Use:

00:11 …Siku which is the abbreviation, the acronym for the project title “sea ice knowledge and use”, its project number 166; siku is also the Eskimo word for sea ice; it’s the same word for sea ice in all Eskimo languages from the Bering Strait, from Russia to Alaska, to Canada, to Greenland…

so we used a very nicely found acronym, which is understandable to everyone; siku is a project that engages communities from across the North probably about 15 to 20 indigenous communities from Russia, Alaska Canada and Greenland; scientists from five nations who are to study – are already studying indigenous knowledge about sea ice and about use of sea ice by today’s people of the north;

sea ice is extremely important to the residents of the Arctic, particularly to Arctic indigenous people because they not only live next to the sea ice for six to eight months of the year, they hunt on ice, they travel on ice; they use ice as a platform for getting most of their winter food; and so their knowledge and use of sea ice is really critical in understanding how people and cultures adapted to this cold and ice-covered environment; what is even more important is that both cultures of the North are changing very rapidly and the sea ice is changing very rapidly; people are changing language…switching from native languages to English, French or Russian or Danish or other languages; or people are changing equipment so they now hunt with powerful boats and vehicles; they use satellites, they use radios, they don’t use traditional means of navigation anymore at least in some places; but also the ice is changing… so what we are documenting is really something that we won’t be available to do 50 years from now – both in terms of human knowledge and in terms of sea ice because we have all these scenarios of sea ice kind of vanishing in the Arctic at least in the summertime by 2040 or 2050 so, in the fifth IPY, 50 years from now, our next generations of scientists will not get what we have today; so, we are mostly documenting some of the most precious knowledge that exists still about sea ice…


Kifikmi Sigum Qanuq Ilitaavut – Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary

SIKU: Knowing our ice: Documenting Inuit sea ice knowledge and use

Nunavimmiut sea ice terminology

100+ Inuit Words for Sea Ice: A Guest Post by Igor Krupnik

International Polar Year: IPY