In 1743, we borrowed the word umiak from Denmark, and in 1757 we borrowed kajak from there. These terms are clearly not Germanic: they were in fact borrowed from the Danish colony of Greenland (which is STILL its colony, and NOT a country). A kajak, or later kayak, was a covered boat, and an umiak, which hasn't quite caught on to its brother's popularity, was basically the Eskimo equivalent of a canoe. Both of the words come from the Inuktitut language; kajak from quyaq, or "man's boat", and umiak from umiaq, or "woman's boat". These refer to the genders allowed to paddle each kind of vessel; there were surprisingly strict rules about that. Both words, as are basically all Inuktitut words, derive from the theorized Proto-Eskimo language. Usage of the word kayak is more than 30 times more prevalent than umiak, and it's increasing exponentially, while the latter is not.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.