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Do the Inuit really have 50 words for snow?

Ask Dr. Flake
posted: 04/22/2004

Don't be misled by the caribou-skinning, seal-blubber-reliant ways that make the Inuit seem too busy for frivolous wordplay: Truth is, they're as Scrabble-addicted as a 50-year-old NPR listener from Minnesota. Which is to say, yes, they have blah-blah many words for snow. (Actually, this is a topic of ongoing debate, but a Flake-conducted, afternoon-long Google search determined that there are no less than 12 and as many as 400.) But so what? Skiers do, too: powder, fluff, cream, meringue, graupel, corduroy, mashed potatoes, corn, death cookies, death mank, freshies, styrofoam, windbuff, oatmeal, velvet, champagne, boilerplate, slab, slough, glaze, rime, crud, downy pillows, life-giving nectar, Rocky Mountain love dust, and...well, you get the idea.

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