Oosik in the news

Sissy SoFunk sissy.sofunk at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 15 05:04:12 UTC 2012

Hello Benjamin,

I asked a friend of mine who works in the Eskimo Museum in Churchill,
Manitoba about it, and he replied:

"i'll have a look tomorrow at a couple of dictionaries at work.  The walrus
cock bone carvings are seen more in Alaska and the Chuckchi than the
Canadian Arctic, so my first guess is that oosik is a yupik term as opposed
to an inuktitut one - but i'll double check.  That spelling looks to be
pretty anglicized and if you have an Inuktitut or Yupik or esqu-aleut
dictionary handy you'll probably have more luck looking for a spelling like
usiq or uusiq.  I've only encountered walrus penis bone carvings at the
museum, never polar bear ones, and am currently doing some research on
traditional uses of the polar bear by Inuit and I don't recall seeing
anything about carving or scrimshaw done any of the polar bear bones - bear
bone is especially hard, it was mostly prized by Inuit for its use in knife
edging and arrow and harpoon head pointing, as well as for tipping the
points of the kakivak - not so much in art, fetish or amulet making."

I'll keep you updated when he gets back to me.

On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 6:52 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Oosik in the news
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In the Seattle Times today by Erika Bolstad, (
> http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2019676814_polarbears14.html):
> -----
> Since polar bears were listed in 2008 as threatened, Americans haven't
> been able to import polar bear trophies — generally a tanned skin and claws
> along with the skull and the penis bone, known scientifically as a
> "baculum" and in the indigenous languages of the Arctic as an "oosik."
> -----
> The earliest citation I find on Google Books is 1966 (http://ow.ly/fiGTc).
> I haven't been thorough, but the citations I saw indicated that "oosik" is
> a walrus penis bone. Also, I don't see which languages that "languages of
> the Arctic" refer to.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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