Fun Fact Friday: Why We Don’t Say “The Inuit People”

28 Sep

Welcome to our first Fun Fact Friday post! Staff will be posting one “fun fact” every Friday, so if you have questions or requests please let us know in the comments.

Map of the Arctic

A map of the Arctic

Our inaugural fun fact is about language. We often get questions about proper terminology and have taken up the issue before in other context, but the most consistent one is about the use of the word “Inuit.” If you read the blog often or have been to the museum, you might have read or heard us saying things like “art made by Inuit.”This often strikes English speakers as being grammatically incorrect – don’t we mean “art made by the Inuit”?

The word Inuit means “the people” in Inuktitut. This  isn’t necessarily obvious to a non-Inuktitut speaker, so many people will say “the Inuit” or “the Inuit people”. However,when you say “the Inuit people”, what you’re really saying is “the the people people”, and that’s a little redundant. So if you have ever wondered why we don’t use a definite article before “Inuit”, that’s why – it’s already embedded in the word.

If you have any questions you’d like answered or something you’d like to know more about, leave us a note in the comments and we will be sure to answer it in an upcoming “Fun Fact Friday.”

- Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Director of Education, Operations and Outreach

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3 Responses to “Fun Fact Friday: Why We Don’t Say “The Inuit People””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. We’re Putting Stephen Colbert On Notice (And Giving You Free Admission Again) « Peek Inside the Museum of Inuit Art - October 10, 2012

    […] that word but here in Canada (and specifically in Nunavut) we use the word Inuit. Two weeks ago, I explained some of the issues around using the word Inuit but to recap: Inuit simply means “the […]

  2. We’re Putting Stephen Colbert On Notice: Why Naming Rights Matter « Peek Inside the Museum of Inuit Art - October 10, 2012

    […] that word but here in Canada (and specifically in Nunavut) we use the word Inuit. Two weeks ago, I explained some of the issues around using the word Inuit but to recap: Inuit simply means “the […]

  3. We’re Putting Stephen Colbert On Notice: Why Naming Rights Matter « Peek Inside the Museum of Inuit Art - October 10, 2012

    […] word but here in Canada (and specifically in Nunavut) people use the word Inuit. Two weeks ago, I explained some of the issues around using the word Inuit but to recap: Inuit simply means “the […]

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