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An Infinite Number of Words for Snow

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Do some cultures really have 50 words for snow?

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Winter is here! Which means we’re looking forward to time with friends or family members, time away from work, and responsibility. And of course…. the visual surreality of a thousand objects under a cover of snow, all turned the same color. All kinds of things, and experiences, difficult to put into words… like, the kind of dim comfort of a warm interior made all the more so by company, and the knowledge of what’s going on outside. That, at least, is a thing the Danes have a word for... hygge. Hygge is like English’s “cozy”, with more specificity. And better branding. It may be tempting to say English speakers “don’t have” hygge, or that we don’t know it when we see it, because we can’t name it. Similarly, there is the old roasting chestnut about how Eskimos have 10, 15, 35 words for snow. And are therefore capable of discerning snow with an acuity beyond, say, your run of the mill English speaker. That their language guides their perception. Which is… not the case, not so straightforwardly, at least. It’s rather that 1) in an environment with endless snowy variations and snow-related situations, it becomes convenient, and wise, to name them and 2) their “words” aren’t like ours. Today on Idea Channel we dig a little deeper into language and culture, so sit back, grab your winter beverage of choice, and let us know what you think in the comments!

--FURTHER READING & SOURCES-- but also this whole thread:

Gretchen McCulloch, @GretchenAMcC

Written and hosted by Mike Rugnetta (@mikerugnetta)
(who also has a podcast! Reasonably Sound:

Made by Kornhaber Brown (

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