On the theft of Sherpa

I am so sorry for you, but more for me,
that in Sherpa there is no word for ‘guide’.
If there was, I’d give it to you…gladly.
There would be no misgivings between us, then.

You see, as languages go, it’s not very advanced.
An oral language, used by precious few;
on its way to being used by fewer still.
Dying a little death with every passing generation.

You see, there’s been a great misunderstanding,
or shall we say an unseeing, a grand larceny.
Isn’t there an unwritten human code
against stealing such words?
No not patents, proper nouns aren’t they called?
Sherpa with a capital S in the front.

Had we spent more time together,
had we talked as equals do,
I’d tell you what I am, and what my words mean.
I’d even warn you – that some words cannot be stolen;
they are off-limit, personal.
If we could walk as equals do,
There’d be no room for this cruelty, then.

~ Dolma Sherpa

3 thoughts on “On the theft of Sherpa

  1. On the theft of Sherpa | Everest and Sherpas | ...

  2. May I share your poem with students in my anthropology class about the Himalayas when I explain that “Sherpa” is not an occupation (‘mountain guide’s) or a commercial adjective (for something reliable and strong, especially in adverse climates or situations)?
    Kath March

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