Iqualuit: Don’t Do It!

In what has to be one of the funniest new stories I’ve heard in quite some time, PM Harper and his people are being poked for mispelling the name of Nunavut’s capital.

Left there, there’s no story to be found. I mean, most of us are guided by an unconsciously applied rule that every Q is followed by a U.

Oh no, friends. Not every Q.

Spelled properly, Iqaluit means “many fish”–an accurate description of the place once called Frobisher Bay. However, add that extra U, and you change the word’s meaning.


Check that, very dramatically.

Consult your Inuktitut dictionary, and you’ll find that Iqualiut (with the now-famous U) carries this meaning: “People with unwiped bums”.

I must declare truth here: You cannot make this stuff up.

One commentator on the story added this: “It’s not exactly a nice term.” To which I reply, “Thanks. If not for my extensive travel experiences and serious cultural saavy, I might have missed that.”

My take?

It might not be nice, but it sure-as-heckfire (phrase stolen from my buddy Ned) funny!

It also makes me feel fairly pitiful about my mother tongue. As dominant as English may be around the globe, we’ve got nothing.   I can’t think of any term with even close to the precision needed to cram a phrase like “people with unwiped bums” into one word.

That’s an art. And that’s the sign of a great language.

And don’t U forget it!

One thought on “Iqualuit: Don’t Do It!

  1. i’ve been there. about three weeks ago. i went with my job for two days and surprisinly its a beautiful place and the people are really nice. second largest tide fluxuation in the world there you know.


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