Saturday, 9 February 2013

16 shades of white

It's an urban legend that Eskimos have an unusually large amount of words for snow.  

I wanted to prove that there are not that many words for snow in Finnish, and I started listing the words which are part of my active vocabulary. When I got to the "word for snow stuck under a hoof of a horse", I knew it wasn't a great success.

Snow in different temperatures:
loska, sohjo (slush, between snow and water, on the ground)
räntä (sleet, between snow and water, when it's falling from the sky)
suvilumi, suojalumi (moist snow, occurs when the temperature is close to 0 C or above, ideal for building snow castles)
pakkaslumi (lightweight snow when the temperature is considerably below 0 C)
puuterilumi (powder-like, very lightweight snow, this term is mostly used by snowboarders)

Snow formations, snow in different places:
tykkylumi (semi-moist snow which piles on trees or roofs)
hanki (even layer of snow covering the ground)
hankiainen (the crust of such a layer, but only when it's hard enough to walk on)
kinos (snow piles formed by the wind or such)
tiera, tilsa (snow stuck under the hoof of a horse, bottom of a ski, or a similar place)

Ice formations, ice in different places:
kuura (frost on the ground)
huurre (frost in other places)
kuurankukka (snowflake-like ice formation on a glass pane)
riite (very thin ice on a lake)

For the curious, here is a longer list of snow-related words in Finnish, but most of them are not even part of my passive vocabulary.

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