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Scots words for snow

Several people have sent this in: "Scots 'have 421 words' for snow", BBC News 9/23/2015: Academics have officially logged 421 terms – including "snaw" (snow), "sneesl" (to begin to rain or snow) and "skelf" (a large snowflake). The study by the University of Glasgow is part of a project to compile the first Historical Thesaurus […]

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"Words for snow" watch

It's been a while since we've rounded up public appearances of the old "Eskimo words for snow" myth. Here are a few recent examples that have been sent in to Language Log Plaza. Item #1: The singer-songwriter Kate Bush will be releasing a new album on Nov. 21 with the title (sigh) 50 Words for […]

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Fashionably many Icelandic words for snow

Spotted by Jonathan Lighter on a recent trip to Iceland: "A big ad for 66°North fashions, prominently displayed at Keflavik Airport, telling passengers everywhere that There are over [a] 100 words for snow in Icelandic. Only one for what to wear."

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Words for snow on Mars?

NASA is reporting that the Mars lander has observed snow falling, though it vaporizes before it reaches the ground. NASA is silent about how many words the Martians have for snow.

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Lolcat words for snow

We haven't posted on Eskimo words for snow in a while, but here's a sighting from the lolcat universe: This from Karen Baumer, who has a collection of linguistic lolcats on her Facebook page.  

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"Hypersynonymy" in MLE?

Robert Booth, "'Ching, wap, ox': slang interpreters decipher texts for court evidence", The Guardian 3/29/2019: Do you know your “tum-tum” from your “ching” and your “corn” from your “gwop” (gun, knife, ammunition and money)? Neither do police and prosecutors, who have begun consulting a linguistics professor to help decipher urban slang and drill lyrics used […]

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Too many words for falsehood?

One of Matt Wuerker's 2017 political cartoons:

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Lexical limits?

Earlier today, Victor quotes Jerry Packard quoting C.C. Cheng to the effect that "the human lexicon has a de facto storage limit of 8,000 lexical items" ("Lexical limits", 12/5/2015). Victor is appropriately skeptical, and asks  for "references to any studies that have been done on the limits to (or norms for) the human lexicon".  In […]

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Inuit dialect names

Helen DeWitt's wonderful novel The Last Samurai has unfortunately gone out of print, so I was happy to learn from her yesterday that a new edition is planned. What follows is an epistolary post, consisting of her note to me, her letter to Kenn Harper, and his response to her.

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Snowclone of the week

Melissa Holbrook Pierson, "What Is Your Dog Telling You? They may not use words, but dogs say a lot more than we realize with their body language", WSJ 5/11/2015: For the same reason that Eskimos purportedly have 50 different words for snow, dogs have a vast repertoire of gestures for appeasement and propitiation. The Norwegian […]

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Nanook of the South

From the current New Yorker: allrecipes.com has "more than 50" grits recipes (I count 64 on display), and there are lots more on other sites, so (costume aside) this is entirely region-appropriate. It's still linguistically naive, since the recipes have mostly-transparent phrasal names like "Raspberry Kielbasa over Cheese Grits"; but hey, it's a cartoon, and […]

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Snowclone blizzard

Elif Batuman, "The Awkward Age", The New Yorker 9/9/2014: As the Eskimos were said to have seven words for snow, today’s Americans have a near-infinite vocabulary for gradations of awkwardness—there are some six hundred entries in Urban Dictionary. Since the Eskimo snow word count has been dialed back to a mere seven here, its value seems […]

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Snowclone of the day

Sent in by A.C. from NZ: My ISP's sign-on page has a 'daily picture', accompanied by some surprising(?) trivia. (Usually the surprise is how strained is the link to the picture and how badly they twist the language — often ending up misusing language in some way or other — this one is itself an […]

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