Meeting the People of Greenland II
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!).
11/10/2021 04:52:54 pm
I cant believe that there is only one school in Sarfannguit! I grew up in a town where there are 4 elementary schools in one single district so knowing that here is only ONE school is crazy. I'm relieved to hear that all school teach in both Kalaallisut and Danish and not just Danish as seen before. Thank you for sharing the two videos, I have never heard anyone speak the language of Kalaallisut.
11/10/2021 06:58:12 pm
I would imagine that the Greenland policy switch for all schools to teach Kalaallisut as well as in Danish will have a major impact on the preservation of the language. This makes me wonder how long it will take for a change to occur in the vitality of the Kalaallisut language and move to the “at risk” category. Learning that with 53,000 speakers Kalaallisut is listed as vulnerable vitality on the Endangered Languages Project website, seriously helps to put the nature language diversity loss into perspective. By teaching Kalaallisut in Greenland schools I wonder if the language will ever carry over into Denmark as well as beyond the borders and into other countries.
11/10/2021 08:46:41 pm
Very interesting stuff! I find it cool that Greenland encourages a tri-lingual education in its children, something the United States struggles to do by even encouraging their students learn a second language. I am also happy that the native language is being taught so readily in schools, many languages around the world don't have that privilege.
11/10/2021 11:20:43 pm
I like the overall experience here of giving us a cultural experience with them, it's so interesting. How does it feel being in such a small school and knowing mostly everybody there? I love that! I like the teaching of multiple languages as well because it continues native speaking and culture in Greenland to continue.
11/11/2021 09:01:01 am
Many Greenlanders learn English as a third language yet many Americans only speak one language. In many other countries kids are taught a first and second language and in most places even a third or fourth. I personally feel this is something we should change in our education system. We are spoiled because many foreigners can speak English in order to communicate with us but we struggle to reciprocate the same.
11/11/2021 04:58:44 pm
I love that both these languages are being taught within Greenland! This is something that will not only help keep the languages fluent and vibrant but also is a great way to dive into the culture and history! Language teaches us history and I think it’s very important to keep native languages within schools, I wish this was something implemented in the states as well! I think it would be so cool to be bilingual or trilingual!
11/11/2021 05:37:16 pm
Hearing Jakobine and Danialeeraq speak Kalaallisut was my first time hearing the language as well as learning about it. I had no idea that Kalaallisut was even a language, and I think this shows why opportunities like this are vital because it allows people to learn new things! I like that they prioritize Kalaallisut being taught while also teaching other languages to help communicate when needed. I thought that was awesome because it shows that they were including other people and their languages so that they are able to talk with them whereas in America it feels like it is the opposite.
11/12/2021 08:38:23 pm
Being that there is one school in Saefanguit, Greenland. I am imagine that everybody knows each other. It’s always a plus to know how to speak more than 1 language , let alone 3. The united states should take notes and even have kids start leaving from when they are in Pre-K because the younger you are the easier it is to learn .
11/14/2021 06:07:54 am
I think we should start language instruction in Pre-K too! Middle school is WAY too late.
11/12/2021 08:48:34 pm
This is really amazing! First of all, it's almost mind boggling to me how there's only the one school, thinking about it is definitely something that I understand but at the same time it's strange to think about. It's like how America used to have the one room school houses back in the day. Secondly, I loved hearing them speak Kalaallisut, it's not every day that we get to hear less popular languages and honestly I think that it's very cool to listen to. Honestly, I'm kinda jealous how many of them are multilingual while most of us Americans struggle to learn anything besides English.
11/14/2021 06:54:29 am
I thought my hometown was small with the average of 130 people, but 90? They must be a close community where people are at least a bit familiar with each other. And to only have one school sounds like it must be difficult on the faculty.
11/14/2021 06:41:44 pm
I have never heard of the language Kalaallisut, and was surprised to learn that it is used in Greenland. This is the first time I have head this language. I also did not know that most Greenlanders speak danish as their second language and English as their third. It is unfortunate that the Eskimo–Aleut language family is endangered. It is nice that all schools teach in Kalaallisut as well as Danish. That helps prevents extinction of the language. Listening to the videos, I was amazing how calm the language sounds. It was very fascinating.
11/14/2021 06:50:37 pm
Wow I can't believe there are only 90 people in Saefanguit! My graduating class in high school was only 90 people and everyone knew each other so I can imagine how close their community is. It was really interesting to hear their language of Kalaallisut! It's rather nice that they made it the national language and a requirement to teach in schools in order to help preserve it. I'm kind of jealous that they teach them multiple languages at a young age. Here in America schools wait way to long and start teaching kids a second language way after the "critical period" which is when children have the highest ability to learn a new language. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from them and start teaching a second language earlier in schools.
11/14/2021 08:05:28 pm
Very interesting to hear the Kalaallisut language being spoken! Also, learning about some of the professions of Greenlanders is something I was really looking forward to, so its great to hear about the two school administrators. Living in such a small town, I imagine there is a great sense of community among the locals.
11/15/2021 04:40:45 pm
I cant express the importance of keeping their language alive. It is amazing to me that Greenland encourages a tri-lingual education. In America, you can easily make it through school with only the english laguage by why would we want that. We're limiting our selves. I have hope for the Kalaallisut language. p.s living somewhere that only has 90 people doesnt sound too bad to me.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an anthropology professor, writer, researcher and global traveler. In fall of 2021, I led an experiential eLearning project connecting US students (and others) with the people, places, and industries of Greenland. I redesigned a research trip into a virtual field trip for my students who didn't have any Study Abroad options. All of the videos, photos, interviews, and storytelling are still here to enjoy!