How do you say “smartphone” in Lakota?
August 21, 2018 10:00 AM   Subscribe

What the coining of new native words reveals about modern America.

In Lakota, delicatessen becomes “place where they snack quickly.” In Umatilla, smartphone becomes “the black cloud that is always following.” In Navajo, cell phone means “metal that you talk into.”
posted by poffin boffin (10 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great article, but I was sad to discover that the Umatilla word for smartphone was a clever appropriation of a myth and not an existential howl of despair
posted by ejs at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2018 [16 favorites]


Smartphone in Umatilla is thus “the black cloud that is always following.”

Surely, social media, but it doesn’t fit the legend....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on August 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is why i am currently depressurising my phone and increasing the temperature in the room so that it can go to its gaseous state....
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:47 AM on August 21, 2018


Interesting that Hill has been embraced as a part of this project. the article acknowledges that he is an outsider, but doesn't give details on his relationship to the Lakota Language Consortium other than that he participates in the meetings. The timeline seems to be that his school started before the LLC so perhaps he is a founder as well?
I would be interested in whether there are Lakota linguists involved, or whether this is simply a grass roots effort.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’ve always liked that the Ojibwe root for a car is “odaabaan.” It’s not a neologism but rather just an old word for a sled applied to all land-based vehicles, but you can remember it by singing, “Wir fahr’n, fahr’n, fahr’n auf der odaabaan.”
posted by Sys Rq at 11:28 AM on August 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


The word for Walmart shows that some things are universal in all cultures.
posted by arcticseal at 11:50 AM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


So in Navajo, Metafilter is a community feed bag where you can go stuff yourself?
posted by peeedro at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


That makes a lot more sense than the “townspeople spider’s-trap felled-tree” of English.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


If the Navajo lived closer to major cities (you know, if they weren’t pushed out onto the land white people didn’t want), that word for Walmart would be the word for IKEA.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:20 PM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


that word for Walmart would be the word for IKEA.

No, IKEA would be something about misplaced screws and things not fitting properly together.
posted by arcticseal at 1:12 AM on August 22, 2018


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