Nippivik wanes into Siqiñaatchiaq

November is almost to a close, and while editing my Iñupiaq database today, I ran into the word for November, Nippivik. It literally means ‘sunset time’. Soon it will be Siqiñaatchiaq [siqiɲaacːiaq] , or ‘no sunshine’ (December). In North Slope dialects it’s Siqiñġiḷaq [siqiɲʁiʎaq] instead; Siqiñaatchiaq is what I’m used to because my Iñupiaq consultant speaks a Malimiut dialect.

These may seem like strange terms for months or parts of the year, until you remember that the Iñupiat live above the Arctic Circle. So in November, the sun sets and won’t appear again for about three months (give or take a bit depending on where exactly your town or village is). As an Alaskan from south of the Arctic Circle, I can still testify that ‘no sunshine’ is quite aptǃ

English is bit boring in this respect, with the occasional shift from basic numbering – which isn’t even accurate in the modern calendar – to months named after historical figures (July, August). Modern Japanese has a basic numbering system, too (‘first month’, ‘second month’, etc.), but Old Japanese and Classical Japanese used different terms (they switched to the new names when the government adopted the solar calendar). 霜月 simotuki, for example, was ‘frost month’, November.

What other interesting month and/or season names are out there?


4 thoughts on “Nippivik wanes into Siqiñaatchiaq

  1. Hans Ole Nielsen November 28, 2006 / 3:44 pm

    Hi my TULUGAQ friend – as a dane working and living for years in Greenland I have read our blog with great interest. By the way – the inuit word TULUGAQ is also besides its name for the raven – a synonym for honnest and moving – see the TULUGAQ campagn at Greenland Homerule Government webside

    The inuit word for tuesday is marlunngorneq



  2. tulugaq November 30, 2006 / 1:25 am

    Hi Hans Ole,

    Thanks for the comment! I didn’t know the alternate meaning of tulugaq – thanks!

  3. Corinne May 1, 2007 / 4:09 pm

    In Czech, září (September) means “approaching the rutting month”, říjen (October) is “rutting month”… a few of the month names’ meanings aren’t clear anymore, but most of them make sense. (January is “leden”, or “ice month” , May is “květen”, flower month, and so on. )

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