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. =)
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!
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…. =)
- 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!
- Three bullets, three reindeer and love in Greenland (thefourthcontinent.com)
- For the love of sailing: it’s worth the world! (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Are you worth befriending? (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Conversations with Danes (blog.expatinDenmark)