Freezing Eskimos Have 47 Words for “This Sucks”

This post originally appeared on TheSpark.com in February of 2000. 

Um-waka-waka, Canada – A group of Harvard linguists studying the Eskimos of northern Canada have discovered that in addition to 34 words for snow, the arctic culture has over 47 words meaning “this sucks.”
Dr. Trisha Dean, who led the team said, “Language, like other social constructs, is environmentally influenced. For instance, there are ten Russian words for ‘starving’ and twelve for ‘mono-brow’. Naturally, the vocabulary of the Inuits reflects that living on frigid, barren glaciers and eating only fish heads for generation after generation is very sucky.”

She maintains that the many words allow the Inuits to convey rich nuances of suckiness that go unnoticed by English-speakers. Said Dean, “If an American woke up smelling like rotten tuna, he would say ‘this sucks’, the same thing he would say if he smelled like rotten herring instead. However, an Eskimo would say massak about a tuna-stench, while the latter situation would require the harsher aput.”

Dr. Dean supplied this list of common Eskimo words for suck and their English translations.

tingenek This sucks.
massalerauvok Long ago, my son, it did not suck, but that’s not really true at this time.
mauja For many moons, it has sucked. Now is no different.
akkilokipok It is as if the great-snow tiger of suckiness has impregnated my sister.

-by Christian Rudder