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Vuolgŋagálbmi is more than just ice

There are at least seven major indigenous tribal people who have traditionally lived near or above the Artic region. And yes, it’s true. They have more than one word for ice.

For example, the Sami of northern Scandinavia and Russia have 13 words:

  • Gálbmi – Ice in general
  • Čuohkkágálbmi – Lake ice
  • Jávrregálbmi – River ice
  • Vuolgŋagálbmi – Newly formed ice
  • Ráidnogálbmi – Smooth ice
  • Gokčagálbmi – Rough/ridged ice
  • Lossagálbmi – Thin ice
  • Guorbagálbmi – Thick ice
  • Čápmogálbmi – Ice with holes/cracks
  • Ruoktogálbmi – Melting ice
  • Iŋgogálbmi – Ice forming on water
  • Crustagálbmi – Crusty ice
  • Jietnavárrálbmi – Ice frozen to the shore

Not surprisingly, the Inuit have nearly the same number, all covering the same ideas.

One word may do for the casual or tangential thoughts and ideas in our lives. We need more precision and powerful imagery for things that deeply matter.

Listen to your team talk. Is it the language of ice or Guorbagálbmi? Maybe it’s time you tune up your team language.