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Archive for the ‘alaska vernacular’ Category

A week or two ago, as describe in Alaska Vernacular (a glossary), I decided to start adding “Alaskana” words to my blog, with definitions. I like being able to link to the word from my other posts, without providing a definition of what I am talking about. After some consideration about my blog’s discontinuous nature, I decided it best to move Alaska Vernacular to its own blog where it can range free from the constraints of discontinuous permafrost.

Which probably means it will be pretty focused compared to what you find here.

I hope to add one or two more words there every week.

As I said in the original post on discontinuous permafrost, I’d love to add some authors or additional definitions to Alaska Vernacular besides my own. Please let me know if you have a word or entry you’d like to make, or if you would like to add them yourselves.

Thanks, dc

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The act of taking a 2-3 foot diameter net, on the end of a 10-15 foot pole, attaching a dip to the end of the pole opposite the net, wherein said dip inserts the net end into a raging, dangerous river while perilously perched on rocks hanging from the side of a canyon, hoping to catch salmon migrating upstream in said net.  It has been known for 30 salmon to be caught in 2 hours, but not uncommon for 2 salmon to be caught in 30 hours.  The intelligence of dips can be observed by how securely they are tied off to canyon rocks, to preserve their bodies for burial should they fall into said river.  Dipnetting is most frequently used when referring to the Copper River, though “dipnetting light” is allowed on a few other Alaskan rivers.  Dips must be Alaskan residents.  (Please note; author is a mid-level intelligence dip, but don’t tell his wife.)

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I find in my writings on Alaska life, that I am constantly clarifying my writing with definitions for ‘Alaska’ terminology. It is a wonderful thing about living here, or anywhere, that a local vocabulary develops. A vernacular, by any account. Its fun, creative, and at least a little bit exclusionary.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I like knowing what Alaskans are talking about when we say ‘outside’, or ‘village’, or ‘breakup’, and that outsiders (there I go again) don’t. And of course I enjoy explaining it to them, as much as they (I think) enjoy hearing about it.

We’ve earned the right to use those words, surviving the Alaskan initiation rituals of isolation, darkness, and cold. We should celebrate them, what makes us different and unique, why we choose to live here over anywhere else.

In keeping with that line of thought, I’ve added a category “alaska vernacular” to discontinuous permafrost. I hope that my readers will add definitions as they see fit. I’ll post them and credit them to the source. I’d like to accumulate something of the local lexicon here, that we can link to out of our blogs, instead of adding a definition every time a bit of alaskspeak shows up in our writing. I’ll also add the words and definitions below as they accumulate.

And if anyone has already done this, let me know. I’d be glad to link this right to their work!

Thanks, dc

dipnetting

greenup

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greenup

Greenup is that brief period of time, sometime in May, that all the trees turn green (commonly called spring in the lower 48). This time varies, usually starting in early May in south Alaska and getting a little later as you move north. Literally overnight, we go from the brown world of mud, limb, and dirty snow bank, post breakup, to the lush yellow-green of a newly reawakened boreal forest. In Fairbanks, this can happen in a matter of days, you can see changes in the hillside colors from morning to night. Recent years have seen a change in schedule, with greenup appearing to come earlier and earlier each year. (You guess the reason, I’m sure it isn’t human caused.)

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