Oops, word has two meanings
"We screwed up," organizer says

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Apr 23/97) - Depending on where you're from and what dialect you speak, some Inuktitut words can mean different things.

That has become painfully apparant with the word "Pivvik," an Inuktitut word used to describe a mining conference that took this past weekend in Iqaluit.

In the Baffin "Pivvik" means "a place to get things." But for people like Peter Ernerk, born and raised in the Kivalliq region, the word means "a place to have sex."

"It's funny at first," said Ernerk. "But, it can get very embarrassing."

An article with "Pivvik" in the headline appeared in the March 31 issue of News/North.

Conference chairperson Mike Hine said last Wednesday the word will not appear on any information pertaining to the mining conference.

"We screwed up at the start," he said. "Now, we have to downplay the word."

Hine added that the Nunavut Chamber of Commerce, which organized the conference, contacted 10 or so people in the beginning to make sure the word conveyed the proper meaning and was shocked to hear its other meaning.

"It was a mistake, completely unintentional," he said.

The conference has since been titled, Arctic Mining Conference '97.

About 70 people were expected to attend the conference with delegates from the mining companies in Nunavut and Inuit organizations.

Hine said it will be a small gathering allowing participants to develop mining policies and procedures leading Nunavut into 1999.

Ernerk said an appropriate title could have been "ujarak tariat," which when translated, loosely means rocks

He said in the future, Nunavut agencies should check more carefully the meanings of words by contacting elders in the community, Inuit cultural groups or Inuit organizations.

When the wrong words are chosen it becomes a joke and in the end can make people angry, he said.

"I watch the Inuktitut language very carefully. I want to see the Inuktitut language protected. I want to see it promoted properly and preserved properly."

This coming fall educators and Inuit organization representatives will be asked to participate in a conference to develop an Inuktitut language policy to preserve the working language of Nunavut.

Ernerk said he doesn't know exactly when or where the conference will be held.