Eskimo
Posted: 02 January 2008 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

I’m interested more in the origin of the name than in political correctness, but this wiki article has something to say about name origin.

The primary reason Eskimo is considered derogatory is the false but widely held belief that it means “eaters of raw meat”, which has an appalling and depreciating ring to it. There are two somewhat different etymologies in available scientific literature for the term Eskimo. The most well known comes from Ives Goddard at the Smithsonian Institution , who says it means “Snowshoe netters"[3][4] Quebec linquist Jose Mailhot, who speaks Innu-Montagnais (which Mailhot and Goddard agree is the language from which the word originated), published a definitive study in 1978 stating that it means “people who speak a different language”.[5][6]

OED on the origin of Eskimo:

[a. Da. Eskimo (Sw. Eskimå), ad. F. Esquimaux pl., from some Algonquian Indian language; cf. Proto-Algonquian *ak- raw, *-imo eat, Abnaki askimo (pl. askimoak), Eskimo, eaters of raw flesh.]

A. n.
1. A member of a widely spread people inhabiting the Arctic from Greenland to Eastern Siberia. (Their own name for themselves is INNUIT.) Used as sing. and pl.

Earliest citation in the OED:

1584 HAKLUYT Disc. Western Planting (1877) xiii. 88 The more northerly partes of the lande amonge the Esquimawes of the Grande Bay.

Does this mean that the name Eskimo is from some Algonquian Indian language via Danish or Swedish, and when did the Danes or Swedes adopt the name?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 January 2008 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  233
Joined  2007-02-23

The few Yupik that I knew at the University of Alaska occasionally called themselves Eskimo. They seemed perhaps a bit annoyed when called Innuit but didn’t seem to care to talk about such things.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 January 2008 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4597
Joined  2007-01-03

Yes, the “eaters of raw meat” etymology has pretty much been deprecated by lexicographers. The OED entry needs updating.

Merriam-Webster says:

obsolete Esquimawe, probably from Spanish esquimao, from Montagnais (Algonquian language of eastern Canada) aiachkime8 Micmac, Eskimo; probably akin to modern Montagnais assime·w she laces a snowshoe, Ojibwa aškime·

American Heritage agrees with:

French Esquimaux, possibly from Spanish esquimao, esquimal, from Montagnais ayashkimew, Micmac.

Given the early date of appearance in English (1584), the French (or Spanish) are probably not much older.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 January 2008 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2007-02-18

I have a vague memory of learning that Norsemen or Vikings invaded and inhabited a good part of what is now north-eastern Canada (northern Quebec and Newfoundland), around the 11th century I think.
Could that explain a Scandinavian language connection?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 January 2008 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2776
Joined  2007-01-31

(never mind)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 January 2008 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  420
Joined  2007-10-20

The primary reason Eskimo is considered derogatory is the false but widely held belief that it means “eaters of raw meat”, which has an appalling and depreciating ring to it.

JFTR, this assertion is without basis and illogical, though etymologically correct, if in fact Eskimos did eat raw meat. There is there nothing inherently appalling and depreciating about it. Do we really imagine the early explorers, trappers, settlers, gold-seekers, etc. living (often scurvied and nearly starving) on salt beef, caribou jerky, and hardtack, feeling socially superior to the natives over this? No, I’m not a raw-foodist, I just get tired of the snarky PC comments offered in the so-called encyclopedia, and besides, I wanted to start the new year off on the right note.

[ Edited: 03 January 2008 10:36 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2008 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  806
Joined  2007-03-01

What’s so “appalling and depreciating” about eating raw meat anyway? Steak tartare, anyone? Parma, Serrano or Westphalian ham? Air-dried raw beef from the Alps, under its various regional names (bresaola, Bundnerfleisch. etc.)?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2008 01:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  429
Joined  2007-02-14

And even the most refined Dutchman will prefer his herring raw.

(Technically speaking they aren’t really raw, because during cleaning, the pancreas is left behind. This releases enzymes that start a ‘ripening’ process. Salt is added to control the process and improve the flavour. A method known as ‘kaken’)

An Amsterdam specialty is ‘Ossenworst’ (oxen sausage) which basically is a kind of tartar.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2008 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  807
Joined  2007-06-20

"Appalling and depreciating” or not, “eaters of raw meat” appears to be an accurate description of Inuit (standard British spelling) dietary habits, at least in part, and calling an Inuit “raw meat eater” is not necessarily ruder than a Frenchman calling me a “rosbif”.

Incidentally, while the firebow was apparently the standard way of making fire, the Inuit also used flint-and-pyrites (nods to IP).

[ Edited: 04 January 2008 06:06 AM by Zythophile ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2008 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07
Iron Pyrite - 03 January 2008 08:57 PM

The primary reason Eskimo is considered derogatory is the false but widely held belief that it means “eaters of raw meat”, which has an appalling and depreciating ring to it.

JFTR, this assertion is without basis and illogical, though etymologically correct, if in fact Eskimos did eat raw meat. There is there nothing inherently appalling and depreciating about it. Do we really imagine the early explorers, trappers, settlers, gold-seekers, etc. living (often scurvied and nearly starving) on salt beef, caribou jerky, and hardtack, feeling socially superior to the natives over this? No, I’m not a raw-foodist, I just get tired of the snarky PC comments offered in the so-called encyclopedia, and besides, I wanted to start the new year off on the right note.

There is nothing inherently pejorative about any word or expression. Words become pejorative by being used that way and such is the case here.

There’s nothing PC about calling people by the name they prefer, it’s simply good manners.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 January 2008 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  420
Joined  2007-10-20

Nevertheless I’d be interested to hear testimonials from the people who have the right to be offended, and WP merely offers the assertion that it has become pejorative. Pretty much every ethnic name extant in the 70s came to be viewed as pejorative, and I somehow developed a jaundiced view as to who, if anyone, was ever offended.

Point taken, however. Yid is the Yiddish word for, well, Yid, after all. It’s all in the mouth of the offender.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Happy New Year!      WOTY ››