Odd Thoughts: Snow words come to mind

Have you been slip-sliding your way to work for the past week or so, after shovelling the walk, the driveway, and the roadway (or paying someone to do it for you, either directly or through taxes)?

Has it prompted you to mutter some despicable epithets under your breath, adding to the long list of “50 different words Eskimos use” to describe snow?

Sorry, but that list is a fake. A phony. A snow job.

First off, the “Eskimos” are actually a whole bunch of different Inuit and Yupic peoples anthropologically lumped together through a coincidence of geography and a misunderstanding of the actual cultural diversity that populates the coldest habitable climes on the planet (the slightly colder Antarctic is habitable only in a scientific, not a cultural context).

And here’s the shocker: they don’t have any more words to describe snow than do those of us in the rest of Canada.

Indeed, we have as many words here on the Wet Coast, where some that we use to describe snow include “rare,” “uncommon,” “ugly,” “stupid,” and a few others which you have been muttering under your breath since the white crap floated from the sky.

In fact, those of us whose primary tongue is English probably use more words to describe snow – especially when the snowplow comes by moments after you’ve shovelled the previous load dumped into the end of your driveway.

You see, many so-called Eskimo-Aleut vocabularies initially confused Western anthropologists because they use suffixes (English example: “snow” and “snowing”) and compound words (English example: “snowplow”) to economically define types of snow.

Some languages condense strings into single words where we might use a phrase (English example: “the garbage the snowplow pushed into our driveway”) or a sentence (English example: “Here comes that stupid jerk with his godforsaken snowplow again.”), or sometimes even more than one sentence (English example: “Aw, for crying out loud! Does that guy ever stop? He turns that blade to push more into our driveway, and he goes by our house more times than anybody else’s. If this was Trumpland, they wouldn’t convict me if I shot him. I ought to make him eat it.”

Bottom line is, all languages have many words to describe snow – even if the people speaking them don’t know what it is.

Right now my personal favourite description is: “Kind of nice for Christmas.”


Just Posted

Aldergrove team could return as all-stars on ‘The Amazing Race Canada’

Mother and daughter duo given a second chance, though their fate rests in the hands of voters

PHOTOS: City of Langley library celebrates India’s festival of color

Kids were invited to learn about Holi celebrations, and taste treats.

Aldergrove glow-in-the-dark swim and games for a cause

Township of Langley will celebrate Earth Hour with its first glow-in-the-dark swim in Aldergrove.

Sources Langley Food Bank can’t find a home

Landlords don’t want to rent to the food bank and time is running out

Vancouver Giant named to Western Conference first-tier all-star team

Young hockey defenceman Bowen Byram is once again lauded for his outstanding efforts on the ice

VIDEO: UPDATE: Stolen Bentley nearly causes crash going wrong way on Coquihalla

Owner of Bentley says the vehicle was stolen Thursday and he wants it back

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

South Surrey mother guilty of second-degree murder in death of daughter

Lisa Batstone killed eight-year-old Teagan in December 2014

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Most Read