I Speak American

"Why are there two words for 'friend,' ami and copain?"

It's Friday, and I'm feeling ornery. "I don't know. Why do the Alaskans have eight different words for snow?"

"They have eight different words for snow? What are they?"

"I don't know. I don't speak Aleut."

"People in Alaska DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH?!" A general outcry, which quickly disintegrates into multiple animated dialogues. "So Eskimos aren't American?" "I thought that was illegal!" "What about Sarah Palin?"

This is beyond the scope of my job description, I think as I draw a crude map of North America on the board and prepare to explain the relative size of Alaska, our reasons for acquiring it and a history of the people who lived there long before our ancestors made the treacherous journey across the Atlantic. 

But here I go anyway.