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Greenlandic: Languages of the Arctic

JoHarris13 June 2017

Pat Lok, biosciences student, UCL, explores the Language of the Arctic

The largest island on earth yet inhabits one of the smallest group of Arctic language speakers – Greenland. Greenlandic is an Eskimo-Aleut language with neighbouring countries such as Siberia, Russia and Northern Canada speaking a language originated from the same language family. It is polysynthetic; where multiple words make up one complete word that could mean a sentence, this is due to Greenlandic being mostly an oral spoken rather than written only until recently. An example would be “Sukulaatitortarpugut” which means “we regularly eat chocolate” in Greenlandic. This is common in Germanic language where a long word is composed of small words altogether that means a sentence.

Flag of Greenland - the colour red symbolises the Sun and the colour white symbolises ice and snow.

Flag of Greenland – the colour red symbolises the Sun and the colour white symbolises ice and snow.

Greenland has a complicated political identity; Greenland is an autonomous state but its citizens possess Danish passports yet Greenland is not part of the European Union. Greenlandic became the official language of Greenland recently in 2009 but secondary education is still mainly taught in Danish. A lot of street signs entail both Greenlandic and Danish translations which emphasise the frequency of use of both languages.

Watch it back

This session was delivered as part of the Festival of the Culture. You can watch it back on YouTube.

Icy landscapes

Greenland is well known for its icy landscape which its name suggests otherwise. Greenland obtained its name as part of an advertising campaign from more than 1000 years ago; Erik the Red who was a Norwegian Viking went on exile from Norway and then Iceland and eventually discovered Greenland. He called it ‘the green land’ in order to attract potential settlers to Greenland but Greenland isn’t exactly green, ice covers approximately 80% of the surface of Greenland and since ice is prevalent across the country, there are different words to describe different types of ice. Some examples are listed below:

Greenlandic English
Sea/ lake ice Siku
Glacier/ steady ice Sermeq
Iceberg Iluliaq
Melted ice for fresh water Nilak

The Forgotten Slave Owners: Tracing British history before the abolition of slavery

NatashaDownes9 June 2017

Written by Natasha Downes, Media Relations Manager, UCL

Most British history has focused on the abolition of slavery, forgetting 200 years that preceded it where Britain played a lucrative role in the transatlantic slave trade.

But a team of researchers at the UCL Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (UCL project) have been working to uncover a history that Britain has been quick to forget; the story of slave owners.

Curious to know more I attended the UCL Festival of Culture event entitled ‘Bloomsbury’s Forgotten Slave Owners’, to hear more about the UCL project and watch an excerpt of the BAFTA-winning documentary series, Britain’s Forgotten Slave-owners.

Why focus on slave owners?

Focusing on Britain’s slave owners may seem like an odd concept but as Dr Nick Draper (UCL History and Director of the project), points out it’s by “rethinking these aspects of British history that we can think about how wealth has been distributed economically, physically and socially.”

Over almost 10 years the UCL project team have been unravelling the vast records of information kept on British slave owners at The National Archive, Kew, which they have curated into an accessible online database. Here, there are the names of 46,000 slave owners that were recorded after the abolition of slavery in 1838.

Through the documentary we hear the uncomfortable story of how the abolition of slavery brought about the compensation of those 46,000 slave owners to the sum of £17 billion in today’s value, which Dr Draper highlights as “the biggest bailout since the banking bailout in 2009”.  Those that were enslaved were not rewarded compensation, and still to this day the contention over repatriations remains.

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Beyond the headlines and hyperbole: Young people and Brexit Britain

NatashaDownes6 June 2017

Written by Natasha Downes, Media Relations Manager, UCL

Young people have a complex relationship with politics, and they are often described as disengaged and apathetic.

With Brexit expected to hit young people the hardest, what would the outcome of the referendum mean for them? How would it affect their attitudes, aspirations and sense of identity?

These are the questions Dr Avril Keating (UCL Institute of Education) is seeking to answer through her research project, ‘Being young in Brexit Britain’. On Monday 5 June, Dr Keating presented the emerging results of her research in a talk entitled ‘Growing up Global’ as part of the UCL Festival of Culture.

“Most young people voted Remain, but what we wanted to do was look beyond the headlines and hyperbole, to find out if those results would inspire a youth revolution”, said Dr Keating.

In fact, what the emerging results of Dr Keating’s research has so far highlighted is that there are many diverse reasons why young people voted Remain, and that both the In and Out camps had two important things in common: a sense of uncertainty and a lack of information.   As a Millennial myself, I can really relate to this feeling of uncertainty.

An uncertain future

The results so far represent London and the South East, but they have covered a wide demographic of young people including elite students and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. While the vast majority of 15-29 year olds voted Remain, perhaps unsurprisingly, few were enthusiastic Europhiles.

Instead, many young people voted Remain because they thought it was in their best interests, while others voted Remain by default. These young Remainers-by-default felt ill-informed to make their own decision, and as their friends and family were voting this way, it seemed like the safe option to maintain the status quo. When young Leavers were asked about their decision, they also had varied reasons for doing so, including protecting Britain’s sovereignty, addressing immigration and the view that the EU is a costly burden to the UK.

One year on, the Remainers are largely resigned, albeit anxious, while the Leavers are a split between the nervous and the optimistic. But there is a consensus among both camps of having low knowledge about the specifics, and feeling uncertain about what all of this really means for the future of Britain.

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UCL’s Festival of Culture

JoHarris31 May 2017

Written by John Bilton, Third Year Archaeology Student

In under a weeks’ time, UCL’s Festival of Culture will be in full swing. The Festival is a week-long extravaganza running from June 5 – 10, showcasing the best of UCL’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

There’s a great spread, from lectures on Women and the 1984-‘5 miner’s strike and Dance in West Africa to film screenings and tours of the Olympic Park, the site for UCL East. The festival is open to students, staff and members of the public, and all the events are entirely free – though make sure you book tickets, because they get snapped up quickly.

I’m a third year Archaeology student, and I’m helping to organise the festival. It’s certainly been interesting so far: I’ve recorded a passage from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (keep an ear out, it’ll be revealed shortly). I’m working closely with the Dickens Museum to prepare the Dickens Night Walks, a fascinating event exploring nocturnal London through Charles Dickens’ eyes, complete with readings, insights and performances from some of UCL’s best-known Dickens experts. And I’m working with the wonderful Joint Faculty communications team who are based in the Andrew Huxley building, a few feet away from the Print Room Café and all the coffee anyone could want to keep them running for a festival with more than 80 events!

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