What language is this?

Here’s a challenge for you – can you identify the following language and translate it into English?

Nangeguaqavoq sitkasigpai

A few clues – it appears in a book by an author with an alliterative name. The title of the book includes a reference to a certain biblical garden. The people who speak this language live in places where it’s cold most of the time.

Good luck!

This entry was posted in Language, Quiz questions.

12 Responses to What language is this?

  1. Sam says:

    I’ve got it narrowed down to being in West of Eden by Harry Harrison. The language is most likely Yilane. I have yet to hunt the book down and find the phrase.

  2. pni says:

    It looks like Greenlandic.

  3. Simon says:

    Sam – it comes from Winter in Eden, part of Harry Harrison’s West of Eden trilogy. The Yilane only live in hot places so it can’t be their language.

    pni – it’s a fictional language designed to resemble Inuit/Greenlandic.

  4. Samawel says:

    Speaking of Inuit/Greenlandic… There was a suggestion of standardizing the Inuit language so as to preserve the language.

  5. Sam says:

    Simon–I checked West of Eden out of my local library yesterday and devoured it trying to find “nangeguaqavoq sitkasigpai.” Now I know why I couldn’t find the phrase in that book! 🙂

    Before Googling the phrase, my guess was that it was Inuit or Aleut or something along that order.

  6. Simon says:

    Here’s the answer: the language is Paramutan, spoken by the Angurpiaq people, and the phrase means, “The destination is of no importance, only the voyage”.

    Harry Harrison’s West of Eden trilogy is set in an alternative present – a world in which the dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years and technologically advanced, language-using dinosaurs, the Yilane, have evolved. The Yilane live mainly in Africa, while humans are confined to North America. However, due to coming of an ice age, the northern parts of Africa become uninhabitable to the Yilane and they decide to set up a new city in Florida. This brings them into conflict with the humans. There are a number of invented languages in these books – one for the Yilane and several for the humans, including Paramutan, the language spoken by the Angurpiaq people, who in the far north.

  7. TJ says:

    ummm ……. “imagination is much more important than wisdom”

    I think it’s true!

  8. pni says:

    “is count me in on the journey
    Don’t expect me to stay”

  9. Sam says:

    Simon, thank you for solving that mystery. After reading West of Eden, it only makes sense for me to read that book.

    There’s probably a word or tidy little phrase in some language or other that means “frustration caused by curiosity that can’t be satisfied.” It would have come in handy this weekend.

  10. Heming says:

    Norwegian, being a language where you can make up your own words as you go along, does indeed have a word for “frustration caused by curiosity that can’t be satisfied”. It is “nysgjerrighetstilfredstillelsesmangelfrustrasjon” and is of course a compound word made up of four roots and three grammatical affixes. Good luck in pronouncing your frustration!

  11. Benjamin says:

    If you can’t get happy with the Norwegian version, you could try the German version, though then I don’t think you’re going to like it either: “Neugierbefriedigungsmangelfrustration”.

    Haha, nice one, though no one would ever try to say this word, but break it down and mix its components around to “Frustration wegen mangelnder Befriedigung der Neugier” – something like that.

  12. Benjamin says:

    One addition:
    Maybe you’d rather put in an “s”, changing it to “NeugierSbefr…”
    It’s very much depending of your feeling which version sounds better.

    I’ve not yet made a decision which version I like better, though I’d tend to the version including the s, than the one excluding it.

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