Monday, April 30, 2007

The “Making Vomit” Bird

Buried deep within a working draft of the Aleutian Islands Fishery Ecosystem Plan (.pdf, 3.45 MB) in a section on socioeconomic relationships, I found a couple of paragraphs that discuss Unangam Tunuu (the language of the Aleuts), which has been spoken for thousands of years in the Aleutian Islands. Included in the discussion are a few examples of Unangam Tunuu words for local fish and wildlife species, including the following:
Some words hint at the broader system of environmental knowledge of which they are a part, such as aligdusi – {, used in the eastern islands for jaegers (Stercorarius parasiticus and S. longicaudus). The name literally means “making vomit,” a reference to the behavioral trait of forcing other birds to spit out fish they have just caught.

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