ANTARCTIC CIRCLE JOURNAL

As if we needed any more proof that humans are naturally predisposed  to name things we came across yet another example during a reading of Caroline Alexander’s book, “The Endurance, Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition.”

 

In October 1915, the Endurance was unexpectedly icebound when the winds shifted and the temperatures dropped. Locked in for the season, the crew of the Endurance was obliged to build close and comfortable quarters to conserve heat for themselves and their animal charges.

 

“Chippy” the carpenter built tight quarters below decks and it was not long after he hammered home the final nail when the crew gave them the wry sobriquets, “The Ritz,” “The Billabong,” “The Sailor’s Rest,” and “The Anchorage.”

 

Now the dogs and pigs couldn’t stay on board so temporary snow shelters were built on the ice flows and immediately dubbed “dogloos” and “pigloos.”  In fact, the urge to label things even extended to the naming of the mountains and crags created by the confluence of wind, water, snow and ice.

 

Another reminder of the complex power of naming.