Today two Elders visited the school and, when they arrived, I felt I should greet them...the instructor who was hosting them was stuck on the phone, and they looked a bit lost. What happened next made me sick...
I've been in Pangnirtung for over two months and the extent of my linguistic ability spans all of 6 expressions: ii (yes), aagga (no), aatsuu (I don't know), qujanami (Pang dialect for 'thank you'), ilaali (you're welcome), ullaakkut (good morning), and the ever-present qallunaaq (southerner/foreigner/white person). What makes it even worse is that I generally don't try to use even these words! Not something I'm proud of, that's for sure.
...so there we were, the three of us trying to communicate, and it just wasn't clicking together. Estonian, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese - even a little bit of 'New York' - I have been able to manoeuver, bit this was like running across one of those sticky mouse-traps; I felt ready to chew my leg off to get out of the situation! I cannot stay here without trying to learn more about the culture and language falls directly within its parameters; eating seal meat is not going to cut it.
I guess I'm off to work with my phrasebooks...my students have already given me an Inuktitut name (Tauja), so I'd better start living up to it.