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MAGIC have recently released a brand-new map, “Greenland and the European Arctic” in conjunction with the Arctic Office. An important part of map creation is determining the appropriate naming to use for each region. This involved significant research into the Greenlandic language and work with the Language Secretariat of Greenland. Kalaallisut, West Greenlandic, has been the official language of Greenland since 2009.

Place names for the area are often descriptive and can be whole sentences when translated to English. An example of this is Qeqertarsuaq, which is the name of the island and of the largest town in the area – the literal translation is “Big Island.” In the same vein, Nanortalik, is the southernmost town in Greenland, and its name means “the place with Polar Bears.” Arguably the most well-known glacier in Greenland is Jakobshavn glacier. This fast-moving glacier is known in Greenlandic as Sermeq Kujalleq, where “sermaq” means “glacier,” and “kujalleq” means “southern” – it lies south of the town of Ilulissat, also known as Jakobshavn.

For more information about the Greenlandic language, please go to the Language Secreatariat of Greenland here: https://oqaasileriffik.gl/en

Greenlandic Place-names