Nanook of the North

Studying idioms, I’ve become increasingly aware of a number of constructions that I have no flipping idea of where they came from. Some idioms have some interesting histories from my searches and some of them have histories shrouded in mystery. But, I think what is probably more interesting are modern interpretations of what they mean and where they come from. That being said, I’m going to focus now on something whose history I’m pretty sure I know.

This morning, while I was bundling up to go out and brave the cold and the snow I thought to myself, “Getting all bundled up like Nanook of the North.” And then I thought, “huh, wonder where that came from?” Now, in the Kateolect, I know exactly where it came from: My Mom used to say it when we were little and we had to put on our snow pants and coats before we went out to play. But, that isn’t interesting. what is interesting is that Nanook of the North is the title of the first feature-length documentary film. It was made in 1922 and is a silent film about Inuk man living in the Arctic circle in Canada. Apparently, some of the sequences may have been staged by the director, but even so it was one of the first twenty-five films to be added to the National Film Registry.

And, potentially also interesting is the fact that my Mom probably got it from her Mom, not being a big silent movie buff. It was fun, sometimes, to chase down where these expressions come from and speculate about how they came into and then why they stayed in the language.

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