Fifty Words For Snow

Fifty Words For Snow



Every language has its own words for the feather-like flakes that come from the sky. In Japanese we find Yuki-onna – a ‘snow woman’ who drifts through the frosted land. In Icelandic falls Hundslappadrífa – ‘big as a dog’s paw’. And in M?ori we meet Huka-rere – ‘one of the children of rain and wind’.

From mountain tops and frozen seas to city parks and desert hills, writer and Arctic traveller Nancy Campbell digs deep into the meanings of fifty words for snow. Under her gaze, each of these linguistic snow crystals offers a whole world of myth and story.

Our Review

Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell is a must read for anyone who is interested in linguistics, climate change or sociology.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the beautiful cover. This is definitely a book I would choose for the cover along let alone anything else.

Fifty Words for Snow travels the world exploring fifty words for snow but also provides the reader with a wealth of stories in relation to those words, each one unique.

As the author says, “Fifty Words for Snow is a journey to discover snow in cultures around the world through different languages.”

I have been interested in languages, particularly those that are in danger of disappearing forever, since I read a book on disappearing languages about ten years ago. Nancy Campbell discusses these languages many times throughout the book.

“While many of the languages in this book, such as Spanish and Urdu, can be heard spoken around the globe, others, such as the Inupiaq dialect of Wales, Alaska, are remembered mainly by elders in relatively small communities.”

Fifty Words for Snow has beautiful pictures of snowflakes peppered throughout the text.

One of my favourite stories was that behind Yuki-onna the Japanese word for snow woman.

“Taoist philosophy suggests that when there is an abundance of any natural matter, a life will come forth from it, the river will create its own fish when the water is deep enough and the forest will produce birds when the trees are dense enough. And so, it follows that a women may be generated in the heart of a snow drift.”

I think my favourite word was the Latvian word meaning ‘a blizzard of skylarks.’

“Used to evoke the enchantment of a surprise snowfall in springtime – whether the snowflakes fall to the ground as deliciously light and silver as the notes of the skylark or beat the air as powerfully as their wings.”

Fifty Words for Snow was a lovely little read.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.5/5

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