How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet

Bird Editions, Oxford: 2011
Text and image: Nancy Campbell
Designer binding: Natasha Herman
Artist’s book, hand-printed pochoir and letterpress.

The Greenlandic language – famous for its many words for snow – expresses the Arctic ecosystem better than the writings of any climate scientist. It is indispensible for our understanding of the environment, yet UNESCO declares it to be in danger of extinction.

How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Greenlandic is an introduction to this evocative Arctic language, and presents a romantic narrative as well as a lesson in linguistics. All 12 letters of the Greenlandic alphabet are represented with words ranging from eqisimarput (‘we walk arm in arm as lovers’) to kinguneqartarpoq (‘he drinks a second brew from old coffee grounds or tea leaves’). These words and their English definitions are accompanied by a series of pochoir prints depicting icebergs. As in contemporary Arctic life, the denouement is caused by the disappearance of the ice.

A donation of £50 from the sale of each copy will go to the World Oral Literature Project, an urgent global initiative to document endangered oral literatures before they disappear.

Winner of the Birgit Skiöld Award at The London Art Book Fair 2013.

On 14 February 2014 a postcard-sized edition of How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Greenlandic was issued by MIEL in a limited edition of 175 copies. This sold out almost immediately, but a new edition was published in 2016.

Watch a film about the book made by Documentally at TippingPoint, 2012.



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