While in Greenland, we've had the chance to meet a number of Greenlanders working in different jobs. You've already met an artist, but I have more people to introduce to you.
Below are some rough videos, giving you the chance to meet two more Greenlanders. They are nothing fancy ( I will not be pursuing work as a film-maker) and I only have rough translations at this point. But I didn't want to miss this opportunity, with students and others actively engaged, to show a few more faces of Greenland. Here are two professionals that work in education. They preferred to speak in Kalaallisut, the West Greenlandic dialect of the Eskimo–Aleut language spoken in Greenland. Consequently, you also have the chance to hear a language many of you have never heard before.
As my students are learning, many world languages such as those in the Eskimo-Aleut language family are endangered. A vast majority of the over 7000 world languages are on track to go extinct in the next 100 years, as their last speakers pass. Projects around the world are seeking innovative ways to slow or stop this loss of linguistic diversity, with projects from UNESEO, National Geographic, Native Languages of the Americas, The Rosetta Project, and many more. Monitoring efforts include categorizing languages by level of threat, anticipating the likelihood that they will disappear in our lifetime. When you look across endangered language maps, you see that Kalaallisut, while at risk, is faring better than other arctic languages, with significantly more speakers and a lower risk designation. While there are many factors that influence the vitality of a language, the fact that Kalaallisut is the national language affects its perseverance. All schools teach in Kalaallisut as well as Danish, a policy switch from the old tradition of prioritizing Danish instruction only. This does not mean that the English-speaking world will have trouble communicating with Greenlanders, as many here learn English as a third language and use it well. Prioritizing Kalaallisut while still learning languages useful for communicating with the international world will keep it a living language. My applying anthropology students have been learning about anthropological efforts to protect endangered languages; this is a great case study to connect our course lessons with the real world.
Without further instruction, enjoy hearing from two more Greenlanders and listening to the words of the Kalaallisut language.
Danialeeraq is the principle at the only school in Sarfannguit. He moved to the small rural settlement three years ago to be a leader in education here. In the following clip, he switches to Kalaallisut to better articulate a question I asked him earlier. When asked what he loves about Greenland, he shares that it is a special place to him, in his own language. He sees himself growing old here, buried in this land forever.
Jakobine is the head office administrator of the school in Sarfannguit, the small settlement inside the new UNESCO World Heritage area. In this brief clip, she shares how she was born and has always lived in this town of roughly 90 citizens. She also shares a few thoughts on the benefits of visiting Greenland. From the hunting and views of the landscape in the summer, to the cold but beautiful winters, Greenland is great year-round (although, she warns the winters ARE tough on some people!).
I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. This fall, I will be recording a research trip to Greenland as a virtual field trip for my students (and anyone else interested). Join us as we travel to the Arctic and learn about life in the far north.