Saturday, August 4, 2012

I SEE PENIS: KWAKWAKA'WAKW


What could be more quintessentially Canadian AND emphatically phallic than a traditional Northwest Coast totem pole.  The pole above, carved by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Oscar Maltipi in 1968 features prominently in Vancouver's immense Stanley Park.  Through a gesture of anthropomorphic doubling, a killer whale's dorsal fin strategically alludes to yet another phallus-- a "dick on a dick stick" if you will.

A helpful interpretive plaque turned my attention to the Vancouver-based FirstVoices language program, which seeks to preserve endangered American Indian languages across Canada.  Curious internet surfers, like myself, can download several free iPhone apps off the FirstVoices webpage with audio recordings from 7 unique languages including memorable entries like this one from the Skidegate Haida people: "Ts'iljii gwa dang ga tllts'iigihl?" "Are your dried fish strips getting firm?", immediately followed by "Haawxanuu siilaay st'ii (ga)."  "As a result it still hurts".

There is even a helpful app that enables users to deploy several native language scripts to communicate on Facebook.  If you don't know Inuit, it's definitely worth a look.

And then there were the tourists. . . Where's a posse of pornstars when you need one?


1 comment:

  1. This is pretty cool! Just one editorial note from an anthropologist: in Canada, Native peoples are referred to as "First Nations".

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