How we talk in Greenland 

In Greenland, we speak our own language. It’s called scrunch your nose and wiggle your eyebrows!

Greenlanders are sometimes people of few words. Maybe they needed silence in the past when on the hunt. Or perhaps they ran out of things to say to the same people all the time. Whatever the reason (I haven’t really researched, sorry) they have cultivated an incredible amount of meaning condensed into just a few body actions. Sometimes it’s vague, but normally it’s an answer of some sort. =)

Eyebrow raising

I say ‘we’, because this whole eye-browing raising thing is contagious. I have started doing it myself, and I kinda LOVE IT! A typical ‘How are you’ conversation might consist of one spoken word – or just some raised eyebrows something like this.

The question ‘Ajuungi?’ (How are you?) can be answered in a number of ways.
Answer 1: Raise eyebrows. (It means hello, or good. Or yes. Or message received – did I mention vague? hehe).

I asked my friends, and they said that other responses could include:
Answer 2: Aap, illimmi? (Which means ‘yes, what about you?’)
Answer 3: Nod your head. (Which means hello, or good. Or yes. Or message received)
Answer 4: Suu (Northern yes)
Answer 5: Iii (‘Yes’ again)
Answer 6: Ajunngi (You can just repeat the word they ask you! Directly translated it means not bad)
Answer 7: whistle /breath-in. (It’s also popular in the north and it’s a more relaxed answer than ‘suu’)

Of course, there are many more ways to answer ‘how are you’ that would lead to a more fruitful conversation, but where is the fun in that? Sometimes you can also just smile and that’s enough.

Scrunch the nose

Scrunching noses can mean ‘no’, or ‘not good’ or ‘don’t like’.  This is a Japanese guy doing his thing – I did try to search ‘a Greenlander scrunching his nose’ but that didn’t amount to much!

Source: Mediatumblr

With this as context above, it’s also quite interesting that the locals of Greenland get confused when people ask ‘How are you?’ in English. They take it literally and may end up giving you more information than the Anglo might ask for. Which is the same response you might get from others in Northern Europe. That said, raising eyebrows in America/England/Canada/Australia would incite a curious response…. =)

Even Neal Caffrey can’t do it without looking a little wrong! Source: Wifflegif

Other sounds

  • When people are excited the (girls especially) will shrill a high pitched ‘IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!’ (Instead of WOOOOOOOOOOOH). I learnt that from some lovely girls at the Arctic Winter Games. They might make ‘oi oi oi’ noises to cheer on.
  • Some make a sharp ‘breathe-in’ sound when they finish speaking, something I have found the Danes also do. Try saying ‘huh’ and breathe in while you say it. In another blog post, this sound was spelled out as ‘pphhhhp!’ Haha.
  • Other popular sounds also found in Denmark include ‘Hov’! I think it’s so cute!

*This post was meant in good nature – no offence intended!

Moved to a new town? Or when you went travelling, did you come across any new sounds people made in different cultures? Let me know!


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20 thoughts on “How we talk in Greenland 

  1. Pingback: When Greenland meets Denmark | The Fourth Continent

  2. Pingback: Introducing Grøndansk | The Fourth Continent

  3. I have always wanted to travel to greenland. I thought about moving there once but realized I don’t care much for cold. I would rather move to Israel. My real question is, are there any jews in Greenland? There are quite a few here in Montana. Nothing like New York, Miami, or Israel but we have a few nice small groups of jews here. Please stop by my blog one day. It may not be your cup of tea but I would love to meet a friend in Greenland!

      • Thank you so much. It is nice to meet people who know about and live there greenland. I had fun browsing many of your blogs last night.

  4. And have you seen them when they are mad? They wont utter that much but then you can tell by the body language.. 🙂 when is the second cup of coffee tanny? I was a little bit sick last week that i wasnt able to give you a ping..hope your doing ok, girl.:-)

    • Hi Dani, I haven’t had that opportunity yet. From what I understand, it is a conflict-avoidance society except maybe in the political sphere. So passive-aggressive actions are taken, such as avoiding someone or completely ignoring someone. One becomes a social stigma – for example defriending you on facebook, ignoring you on the streets, etc. I do not know much about it but I also heard that one of the students was doing some research on that. Fascinating. Next week sounds good =) Cheers, Tanny

  5. Great post 🙂 Without facial expressions and tone of voice our language would be extremely deficient
    Funny you should mention ‘Hov’. When such a word is integrated in your language you rarely think about it; before now 🙂
    All the best,

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