How to say ‘I love you’ in Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet

16 June 2011, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Nancy Campbell will discuss her latest artist's book, How to say 'I love you' in Greenlandic' which celebrates the endangered Kalaallisut language.

This event is sponsored and supported by the World Oral Literature Project.

Nancy Campbell is a poet and printmaker; during 2010 she was writer-in-residence at Upernavik Museum, Greenland. 

The Greenlandic language – famous for its many words for snow – expresses the Arctic ecosystem better than the writings of any climate scientist. It is indispensible for our understanding of the environment, yet UNESCO declares it to be in danger of extinction.

How to say ‘I love you’ in Greenlandic is an introduction to this evocative Arctic language, and presents a romantic narrative as well as a lesson in linguistics. All twelve letters of the Greenlandic alphabet are represented with words ranging from eqisimarput (‘we walk arm in arm as lovers’) to kinguneqartarpoq (‘he drinks a second brew from old coffee grounds or tea leaves’). These words and their English definitions are accompanied by a series of pochoir prints depicting icebergs. As in contemporary Arctic life, the denouement is caused by the disappearance of the ice.

How to say ‘I love you’ in Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet has been hand-printed by Nancy Campbell in an edition limited to 50 copies, each signed and numbered by the author. The book is housed in a designer binding made by Natasha Herman at the Red Bone Bindery, Ottawa. Priced at £450, a donation of £50 from the sale of each copy will go to the World Oral Literature Project, an urgent global initiative to document endangered oral literatures before they disappear.