The Language of Snow
Just when I thought winter was truly on the way out that dratted phenomenon known as spring snow arrived. It’s the “ha ha gotcha” of winter. Not nice. I had visions of puttering out in the yard, placing my yard ornaments and maybe even putting out the hammock. After all, the temps had reached a searing 50 degrees. The natives were donning shorts in anticipation.
While I have one word for snow: “yuck” the Inuits apparently have over a hundred. Then again it could be a hoax. If you are in need of describing snow maybe you can find one off this list:
The Eskimos’ *edited*Hundred Words for Snow
by Phil James
tlapa powder snow tlacringit snow that is crusted on the surface kayi drifting snow tlapat still snow klin remembered snow naklin forgotten snow tlamo snow that falls in large wet flakes tlatim snow that falls in small flakes tlaslo snow that falls slowly tlapinti snow that falls quickly kripya snow that has melted and refrozen tliyel snow that has been marked by wolves tliyelin snow that has been marked by Eskimos blotla blowing snow pactla snow that has been packed down hiryla snow in beards wa-ter melted snow tlayinq snow mixed with mud slimtla snow that is crusted on top but soft underneath kriplyana snow that looks blue in the early morning puntla a mouthful of snow because you fibbed allatla baked snow fritla fried snow gristla deep fried snow tidtla snow used for cleaning ertla snow used by Eskimo teenagers for exquisite erotic rituals kriyantli snow bricks hahatla small packages of snow given as gag gifts semtla partially melted snow ontla snow on objects intla snow that has drifted indoors nootlin snow that doesn't stick rotlana quickly accumulating snow skriniya snow that never reaches the ground bluwid snow that's shaken down from objects in the wind tlanid snow that's shaken down and then mixes with sky-falling snow talini snow angels blontla snow that's shaken off in the mudroom tlalman snow sold to German tourists tlalam snow sold to American tourists tlanip snow sold to Japanese tourists protla snow packed around caribou meat attla snow that as it falls seems to create nice pictures in the air sotla snow sparkling with sunlight tlun snow sparkling with moonlight astrila snow sparkling with starlight clim snow sparkling with flashlight or headlight tlapi summer snow krikaya snow mixed with breath ashtla expected snow that's wagered on (depth, size of flakes) tla-na-na snow mixed with the sound of old rock and roll from a portable radio trinkyi first snow of the year tronkyin last snow of the year shiya snow at dawn katiyana night snow tlinro snow vapor nyik snow with flakes of widely varying size ragnitla two snowfalls at once, creating moire patterns akitla snow falling on water privtla snow melting in the spring rain chahatlin snow that makes a sizzling sound as it falls on water hootlin snow that makes a hissing sound as the individual flakes brush geltla snow dollars briktla good building snow striktla snow that's no good for building erolinyat snow drifts containing the imprint of crazy lovers chachat swirling snow that drives you nuts krotla snow that blinds you tlarin snow that can be sculpted into the delicate corsages Eskimo girls pin to their whale parkas at prom time maxtla snow that hides the whole village tlayopi snow drifts you fall into and die truyi avalanche of snow tlapripta snow that burns your scalp and eyelids carpitla snow glazed with ice tla ordinary snow
Since we, as in Anglo-Saxons (hope that isn’t offensive to anyone), lack the same depth of expressives, I’ve come up with my own:
In my region there are three recognizable seasons:
Snow terms to consider adopting into the English language:
lookitsnow: first snow of the season–Nov/Dec
itzsnowing: comment of the day until January
ucksnow: bridge between Jan/Feb when people begin getting weary of shoveling, scraping, and slipping around in the stuff
snizzle: the on off dance of snow and rain found in Jan/Feb
snain: a more serious form of snizzle
smush: slushy snow of Feb/Mar
smud: ground showing with snow patches, squashy walking usually around Feb/Mar
ohnosnow: snow when daffs coming up and flakes coming down in Mar/April
nomohsnow: snowfall and meltaway tease of April/May
I’m hoping the smush will quickly melt and we can get Spring back on track soon. Until then–
Wishing for Blue Skies
- City has 9 inches of snow by 11 a.m. (cjonline.com)
- Snow (myownheart.me)
- Saturday morning (nineshift.typepad.com)
- What The Snow?? (cbwentworth.wordpress.com)
Haha! As a native of Perth, Western Australia which never gets snow (in fact I’ve never even seen snow in person) this was a fascinating insight into that mysterious cold stuff 😉 I had of course heard the old fact/myth/rumor that Eskimos have over 100 words for snow, but I never knew they went into so much detail! I especially liked ertla (snow used by Eskimo teenagers for exquisite erotic rituals); tla-na-na (snow mixed with the sound of old rock and roll from a portable radio); and tlarin (snow that can be sculpted into the delicate corsages Eskimo girls pin to their whale parkas at prom time). I never even fathomed that such things existed!
Thanks for enlightening me on the subject of snow, and introducing me to your invented snow terms – I hope they catch on.
The English snow list is brilliant so I’m wondering if bookpolygamist could come up with a matching list based on the word hot to suit an Australian summer ! E.g. hothu = hot and humid.
phot = perth hot
mhot = melbourne hot – not as hot as phot.
Perfect! Every region could have its own unique weather language!!
Haha! That’s a great idea lazycoffees! I love phot and mhot 🙂 shot (sydney hot – not as hot as perth) should also be one as recently I was chatting to my friend who has just moved from Perth to Sydney, and remarked that it had been really hot over here (a length of about 4 or 5 days over 40 degrees C) and he commented “it’s been a bit hot over here too.” Sydney’s maximum that day was the same as Perth’s minimum -_-
Upon research the Inuit snow terms is considered an elaborate hoax–still delightful though. Mine is unfortunately exacting and truthful. Snain, anyone?
Oh what a shame its a hoax! A pretty successful one though as its pretty much “common knowledge” – whoever decided to start it must have had a good laugh at all us silly non-Inuits who fell for it!
What a delightful blog! If it helps, a hoard of robins left here about four days ago. They stopped to eat some native berries. They are winging their way north!
I think I saw them the other day in my neighbors yard. They looked either confused or rather ticked at finding so much snow on the ground 🙂
“Snow, No Snow, Mud?” Oh, dear. Where are you living, Cricket?
Well, let’s say the demographics are considered rural. Although our fair town does boast not one, but two Starbucks. Then again, that isn’t saying much, is it?
This is great! I’m getting tired of the snow too but now with my new extended snow vocabulary, I have reason to be enthused once again. Thank you for making the last few weeks of Winter tolerable!
The sun peeked out for a few minutes today–I might make it too!