A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vocabulary

We have lived in Alaska for more than 7 years now. But something you notice almost as soon as you get here, is that Alaskans have their own vocabulary.
Some of these unique words come from Native Alaskan words, such as cheechako, which is anyone new to Alaska, who hasn't overwintered here.
Others are just reflective of the unique experience of being an Alaskan, such as sourdough, anyone who has lived in Alaska for a long time.

Termination dust is an obvious example. Termination dust is the first snowfall of the year that is visible on the mountaintops in the morning. It doesn't have to last all day without melting to qualify. It just has to be new snow. I have lived in other mountainous states, namely Utah and Colorado. Neither of those states had a name for that first snowfall. But Alaska does.

Then there are the ways that Alaskans talk about other places. Anyplace not Alaska is "Outside". When people here talk about going Outside, they don't mean they are going for a walk. It means they are leaving the state, headed anywhere else. Never mind that Alaska is somewhat off the beaten track, so it would maybe make more sense the other way around. The other thing people say a lot is when they are referring to the rest of the country. We don't say "the contiguous 48 states" or mainland USA. No, you all are relegated to the "lower 48". And we don't even capitalize it, because Alaskans just don't think they're important, unless they need to go shopping :). And we don't know what to call Hawaii, except perhaps our favorite winter vacation spot.

I think most of this is because most Alaskans, in which category I include myself, although I have not yet reached the revered title of "sourdough", are proud of this state and the life they have carved out here. I have lived in several other states, and it really is different here. And I love everything about it.

Well, except it does get a little chilly in the winter. But I've survived it, and earned the right to complain about it.


- Posted from my iPhone

1 comment:

Aonika and Richard said...

I like the idea of "termination dust"