Was Callum Home London - now Inuit words for snow

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Posted by Robert Thompson on May 04, 2007 at 10:49:35 from user robert.

In Reply to: Re:Callum Home London posted by Prue Eckett on May 04, 2007 at 04:28:34:

Oh no, not the old hoary chestnut of the fifty/hundred/four hundred words for snow in the Inuit language! I thought that this myth had long ago been dispelled.
The Great Inuit Vocabulary Hoax is anthropology's contribution to urban legends. It apparently started in 1911 when anthropologist Franz Boaz casually mentioned that the Inuit—he called them "Eskimos," using the term of a tribe to the south of them for eaters of raw meat—had four different words for snow. With each succeeding reference in textbooks and the popular press the number grew to sometimes as many as 400 words.

In fact, "Contrary to popular belief, the Eskimos do not have more words for snow than do speakers of English," according to linguist Steven Pinker in his book The Language Instinct. "Counting generously, experts can come up with about a dozen."

I commend to UK contributors the BBC2 programme QI, dispeller of many such myths, including the "Divorced, beheaded, she died, divorced, beheaded, survived" mnemonic regarding Henry VIII's six wives - or should it really be only two wives?
Actually technically it should, as none of the "marriages" ended in divorce, but four of them were annulled, in other words they never took place!

Sorry, deviation, back to Ransomish thoughts.....

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Courtesy of Environmental Science, Lancaster