Q. I’ve heard that Alaskans have 80 names for snowfall. Why so many? -Lynn
A. Well, Lynn, I am thinking you mean Eskimo names for snowfall….because I don’t know that ‘Alaskans’ have that many. We non-native residents do have a few words for it. Like, Drat, Doggone it, Oh, no, Rats! and I can’t believe it! Of course a few of our citizens, such as children, or owner’s of new skiis or snow machines would add words like Oh, boy!, Yeah! and Hooray to that.
Actually, I too, have heard that Eskimos have 80 names for snowfall; however, I researched that with a real live Eskimo. A helpful man from the Inupiaq tribe says that his tribe has 14 words which mean snow. Each one depicts a different kind of snow; such as dry snow, wet snow, snow-over-ice, deep snow, thin snow, etc. I am thinking maybe the different tribes of natives each have several words for snow and if they are all added up, it might equal 80. They don’t all speak the same native language.
We now have snow on the mountains surrounding us and so it won’t be long until it will be on the ground here in the Mat-Su Valley. Delta Junction, near Fairbanks, already had a snow, but it has mostly melted off. I call those first snows ‘insincere’ snows. It’s the ‘sincere’ ones I dread! But still, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. In Alaska, as in most of life, the good outweighs the bad. – BJ