Sunday, August 30, 2009


Embarrassing Typographical Error

Anna Mehler Paperny, "Press release's typo makes PMO the butt of jokes," Globe and Mail (August 19, 2009):
Languages are tricky creatures.

Jumping from one to another is fraught with potential for embarrassing linguistic slipups.

Just ask the Prime Minister's Office.

The PMO found itself in an awkward position yesterday when it realized it had sent out a press release Monday that inadvertently said the Prime Minister would make several public appearances in a "Place of Many Excrement-Covered Bottoms."

The release meant to say Iqaluit - the 7,000-person capital of the territory of Nunavut, where yesterday the Prime Minister did indeed make multiple media appearances.

But instead it said Iqualuit, which adds a u after the q and means something entirely different.

The root word "iquq," explained Sandra Inutiq, a policy analyst with Nunavut's language commissioner, refers to "fecal matter remaining on the outer layer of the anus post-defecation."

The suffix "aluit" makes it a plural or suggests "the speaker is surprised or disturbed," implying a surprising or disturbing number of people with unclean behinds.
See Guy Bordin, Lexique analytique de l'anatomie humaine: inuktitut-français-anglais (Louvain: Peeters, 2004), p. 66, s.v. iqquq:
Selon Spalding (1998:30), iquq désigne en aivilingmiutitut les excréments adhérant à l'anus ou aux poils périanaux. Ex: iquqtuq, qui s'est essuyé le derrière.
Bordin's citation is to A. Spalding, Inuktitut—A Multi-dialectal Outline Dictionary (with an Aivilingmiutaq base) (Iqaluit: Nunavut Arctic College, 1998), unavailable to me.

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