Tuesday, September 28, 2010

haangina-lix! Aleut in the news!

Picked up the NYT this morning and started reading political news like this. Lisa Murkowski is apparently making a strong run now as a write-in, and she got a crowd roaring as described early on:
… invoking Native Alaskan culture, she told the crowd that the ancient Aleut language contained no word for “impossible.” It was a deft play to the state’s strong sense of identity and a direct appeal to native communities, whose support could prove crucial.
I had barely started to spew coffee from my mouth before I read the continuation:
It was also inaccurate. The word in Aleut is haangina-lix.

“It’s very clear that you can say ‘impossible,’ ” said Gary Holton, the director of the Alaska Native Language Archive. “Clearly, she wasn’t checking her facts.”

Hurrah! A random language myth (created on the fly or known cliche?) dismantled in the press. I guess the 'ancient' part was gratuitous bonus stupidity.

Map from here, the website of the Alaska Native Language Center (where Holton ultimately works).


Faldone said...

Obviously haangina-lix is a loan translation from the degenerate Anglo culture and not a word in the ancient Aleut language.

Mr. Verb said...

Thank you ... I KNEW there was a simple explanation.

GAC said...

By the way, how exactly do you pronounce "haagina-lix". I'm thinking something like [hɑːgɪnɑlɪx] or somesuch.

As far as "ancient language" goes -- meh. By this time the "ancient" in that phrase has no real meaning, just a fluff word to exoticize it.

GAC said...

I just realized I totally read the spelling wrong.

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