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Old 01-05-05, 11:37 PM   #1
shiftlessbast-
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What do you call that snow...

The Eskimos have 123 words for snow*, do we not have terms for the maybe seven or eight kinds we might typically encounter while winter riding?

I think I use the following most often to describe the white stuff: powder, crust, slush, guttersnow, hardpack, icesnow. These are serviceable categories, but they lack the poetry of "the snow that looks like seal fur when the moon is full."

Here's a stumper. As I was riding around tonight, I kept going through these patches of loose dirty snow on top of the packed snow blanketing the streets. This is the snow that is kind of grainy and behaves almost like sand--hit a pile of it and you really have to hold on to your bars to keep the front wheel from kicking sideways or sliding out from under you. I think it is the snow that builds up in car wheel wells. What do YOU call this?

Perfect snow riding conditions in Denver today--fresh powder that packs well, cold enough that it isn't slushy, and it hasn't thawed and refrozen so almost no ice. So fun!


*author makes no claim of veracity for this factoid.
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Old 01-06-05, 12:43 AM   #2
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There's a whole myth about Inuit language and snow, some early anthropologist invented a language and this was foisted onto the scientific community in the early 1900's. The Inuit do have many words for snow and ice, some of the words describe "snow on hillside" or "snow falling" and many of the words describe types of sea ice.

I'd call that dirty loose snow on top of hardpack snow, sluffy.
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Old 01-06-05, 01:10 AM   #3
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I call it "car crap." I call most of the other snow "white sh+t". But I love it and I miss it. I've been hanging out "up north" in Michigan and almost all of our snow melted last week. I'm sure we'll get more before long.
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Old 01-06-05, 05:48 AM   #4
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Yesterday I encountered a type of sticky snow. The ground was relatively warm but the snow was piling up. Ride 5 feet and you have a 4" tall ring of snow circling the tires. By the end of the ride, all the spokes, brakes, fork, triangles, were FILLED with this snow. Any encounter with a leaf pile underneath the snow meant that the debris from that pile was going to stick to the rest of the crap. The friction from the snow piling up by the brakes and fork were enough to actually slow me down significantly.

So, I come home after an hour's ride and my bike is covered in dirty snow with twigs and leaves sticking out the sides. It was pretty amusing and I didn't have my camera so I was unable to take pictures.
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Old 01-06-05, 07:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftlessbast-
Here's a stumper. As I was riding around tonight, I kept going through these patches of loose dirty snow on top of the packed snow blanketing the streets. This is the snow that is kind of grainy and behaves almost like sand--hit a pile of it and you really have to hold on to your bars to keep the front wheel from kicking sideways or sliding out from under you. I think it is the snow that builds up in car wheel wells. What do YOU call this?
I've read posts were people have used the terms "cookie dough" & "mashed potatoes" when referring to snow. Not sure what their perception was, but I would consider the stuff your talking about cookie dough (also the other loose, partially sand/gravel filled brownish snow resulting from sanding of the streets). I'm assuming mashed potatoes was referring to similar stuff without the contaminants?
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Old 01-06-05, 01:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by clevernamehere
I've read posts were people have used the terms "cookie dough" & "mashed potatoes" when referring to snow. Not sure what their perception was, but I would consider the stuff your talking about cookie dough (also the other loose, partially sand/gravel filled brownish snow resulting from sanding of the streets). I'm assuming mashed potatoes was referring to similar stuff without the contaminants?
You're right! If you do much baking, that snow is even more like pie crust dough just before you add the water to it. It has almost a greasy texture. Or maybe it's more like dandruff. BTW I got my wish for snow in northern Michigan. About 4 inches this morning and more on the way! I dont have my bike here but I'm leaving for a walk in a few. Today's snow is a fluffy powder--would be great for riding and not too bad to shovel.
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Old 01-06-05, 02:19 PM   #7
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What do you call that snow...

I usually refer to it as the white stuff on the mountains as I gaze up at it while comfortably wearing short sleeves and shorts.
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Old 01-06-05, 03:12 PM   #8
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You have my condolences.
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Old 01-06-05, 04:06 PM   #9
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CUT AND PASTE


This pseudo-factoid has been circulating for years like an e-mail chain letter. People cite it not because they know anything about Eskimo, but because they heard or read it somewhere.

The anthropologist Laura Martin has traced the development of this myth (including the steady growth in the number of words claimed-- in the earliest citations it's just four or seven words). Geoffrey Pullum summarizes her report in The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax (1991).

Still, how many words are there?

It depends on what you mean by words. The Eskimo (Inuit and Yup'ik) languages are agglutinative and polysynthetic-- which means that hundreds of words can be formed from any root in the language, not just words meaning 'snow'.

Maybe we should leave all those suffixes out of the picture, and just consider roots and derived words. You'll certainly find hundreds of snow words... but the same is true of English. The Oxford English Dictionary lists 125 compounds of the word 'snow' alone.

Probably the fairest comparison is to look at roots. The Yup'ik language in particular has about two dozen roots describing snow or things related to snow. But then English has quite a few itself: snow, sleet, slush, blizzard, flurry, avalanche, powder, drift, firn, poudre, etc. Some of these have non-snow-related meanings; but then so do some of the Yup'ik words.

********************************
Did you know that the Eskimo's have over 100 words for snow?

Well, if you answered yes, you're wrong! In fact, the "Eskimo's" have almost the same amount of words for snow as we do. It is a common misconception that they have either dozens or hundreds of words for snow.

You should know that the people living in the Canadian and Greenland arctic regions are actually called Inuit, and Yupic in Siberia and western Alaska. They speak different yet similar languages with many different dialects. For simplification reasons, lets refer to this family of languages as "Eskimo".

The confusion all began almost a century ago in 1911 with the introduction of Franz Boas' "The handbook of North American Indians". In it, he claims Eskimo's have four distinct root words for snow: aput "snow on the ground", gana "falling snow" piqsirpoq "drifting snow" and qimuqsuq "a snow drift". Since the English language only has one root word for snow - 'snow' - this became a great find in the field of lexicography. Then in 1940, a man named Benjamin Lee Whorf wrote an article misinterpreting Boas' work, describing that an Eskimo would not have an all-inclusive word like snow, rather each type of snow would have it's own unique word.

And so the myth began.

This article was then reprinted many times and used as a reference by the populous. From this idea, the myth grew claiming Eskimo's had dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of words for snow.

But how many snow words do the Eskimo's really have? Well this question has no quick answer because it all depends on how you define 'word'. For example, the English word snow can be used as a root word to compose compounding words like: snowball, snowbank, snowblower, snowcapped, snowdrift, snowfall, snowflake, snowlike, snowpants, snows, snowshoe, snowstorm, snowy, and so on. This is also true in "Eskimo" languages. Many words for snow come from the same root.

But if Eskimo's have four roots like Boas gave, then wouldn't they have four words whereas English only has one? Of course, this is certainly not the case. Take for instance the following unique root words describing snow: slush, blizzard, skift, and flurry. By this procedure, it appears that English also has several words for snow. In fact, English and "Eskimo" have around the same amount of words for snow. So next time somebody tells you there are 100 Eskimo words for snow, you can set them straight and let them know the truth.
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Old 01-06-05, 05:19 PM   #10
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My "*" disclaimer was part of my original post. I know the myth is a myth, and was just trying to be...engaging. What I was hoping for was not that people would show off what they remember from ANTH 101, but that they might engage in a little ethnographic self-reflexivity in regards to their velocultural activities.

So, college grads and non-college grads alike, I ask you again: What terms do you use to describe snow?
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Old 01-06-05, 05:42 PM   #11
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From my window "Beautiful" especially while falling
same for the road, again especially while falling
4-6 hours later I call it "sufra-suckamucka-muttafunkinn-crunchamunchin-goddannin-kickinmuhshoesstupid-stuckacrupslushin etc etc etc pretty much continuosly until I'm home again and I look out the window.."Beautiful"
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Old 01-06-05, 06:20 PM   #12
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"kick ass"

But then I don't have to spend all day delivering packages in it.

Sucker.
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