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.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd