Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Eskimo

Since making the little decoration shown in my last post I have been googling and asking around about the word Eskimo. Now, obviously in a small town in Japan the word doesn't come up in conversation very often and Japanese language is not especially PC  at the best of times, the expression 'hafu' (half) for those who have a Japanese and a foreign parent jumps to mind. 
It seems that most people think that the PC word these days is Inuit but the Inuit are one class of 'Eskimo' - a term used to cover all the people of the Arctic circle. It appears that there is no universal term to replace Eskimo. I also found via google that the term is not considered PC by Canadians and Greenlanders but is used in Alaska. (quoted from Wikipedia)

In Canada and Greenland the term Eskimo is widely held to be pejorative and has fallen out of favor, largely supplanted by the term Inuit. However, while Inuit describes all of the Eskimo peoples in Canada and Greenland, that is not true in Alaska and Siberia. In Alaska the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (which technically is Inuit). No universal replacement term for Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, is accepted across the geographical area inhabited by the Inuit and Yupik peoples.
So, it seems that it depends where you are and who you are talking to to whether the word is acceptable or not. If there are any Alaskans reading this I would be interested to know if this is correct. I also read on one of the many web pages I read that some 'native Americans' find that term as insulting as 'Indian'. 

Therefore I have decided not to use Eskimo, I don't want to upset anyone, now I am trying to come up with a new name, I am leaning towards 'snow child' but open to suggestions.

One of the drawbacks of not living in a big ex-pat community is that I only get to talk to other foreigners once or maybe twice a week, and it is easy to forget your own language, especially words that are not everyday language. It is funny that sometimes you can only think of the Japanese word and not the English translation and that is weird for me since my Japanese is not that good!

Finally a note to 'Anon' (unable to sign your name?). I deleted your comments because they were insulting, if my naive question about the term Eskimo wasn't to your liking, I am sorry but there was no need to post such an insulting comment TWICE. If you don't like what you read, then don't read it, it is not like I am forcing you to.

Thank you to everyone else who gave me ideas and suggestions plus the MIJ ladies.

Now I am off to organise my Bonfire Night activities....

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