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An Inuit translation of the Lord’s Prayer

December 28, 2012

I’ve always been interested in translation, how a complex thought or a poem in one language, survives translation into another while keeping the original author’s message intact.  I suspect it never emerges quite the same as it went in.  Sometimes the message is enlarged.  I quote below this translation of the Lord’s Prayer from English into Inuit (or Eskimo as the people were called by the English-speaking people when this book was published in 1949).

“The words ‘Heaven’ and ‘Kingdom’ they simply translate as God’s village, or His many villages.  The word temptation they ignore.  No word in the Eskimo language or nothing of Eskimo living, corresponds to our definition of the word, and I [the author Eva Alvey Richards] did not choose to enlighten them. . . .”

“THE LORD’S PRAYER as translated by Nasholook, Segavan and Tooruck, working together under a kerosene lamp in the living room of the schoolhouse at Wainwright [Alaska, near Point Barrow].

“Appowvut kilyugmittuatin ilwit atkin nakugirauli

“Our God Father who is this time in His village, holy is that name

“Ilwin umeadrigutin kilee.  Ilwin pikutin nalautauli.  Nunani

Your Kingdom come.  Please our Father, you do for this place

“Nelaudrusiatitat kilyugmi.

“The same like in your village.

“Netsikaruptigni ublumini aitkoktigut

“Seal-meat this day you give us.

“Pilutivut kulekotigingerglugit kulekotingernigosipisidtut pilugidriptignum.

“Our many things we owe to people and village, we give the people.

“Iglegotunnatta piluksisummon asi pilunmin anaututigut

“Send people many things good like that peoples is good the same,

“Ilwinumeadrugun pipigin kwungudlu maununeglu isuitsuamig.”  Amen.

“And from many bad days save every people.  Amen.”

–from Arctic Mood:  A Narrative of Arctic Adventures by Eva Alvey Richards, a teacher in the almost farthest-north schoolhouse in the USA  in 1949.  Caxton. Caldwell Idaho 1949

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