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Change of Seasons

Light Snow, Deep for Walking

Marc Sanchez

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Inupiaq Snow Terminology

Myth has it than Eskimos have more than 100 words for snow. Not quite, but some Alaskan languages have several dozen. Ronald Brower is an Inupiaq language professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He has compiled the following words for snow, many of which have no English equivalent.

1. Apun: snow.

2. Aniu: packed snow.

3. Aniuvak: snow bank.

4. Apuyaq: snow patch.

5. Aqilluqqaq: soft snow.

6. Auksalaq: melting snow.

7. Agniq: snow blizzard.

8. Illuksinaq: bright snow condition causing snow blindness.

9. Kanigruaq: frost on face, tree, etc.

10. Kaiyuglaq: rippled surface of snow.

11. Mavsa: snowdrift overhang.

12. Mauya: break through snow condition.

13. Misulik: sleet snow.

14. Mitailaq: soft snow on ice.

15. Milik: very soft snow.

16. Masak: water logged snow.

17. Masayyak: lightly damp snow.

18. Natilvik: low ground drifting snow.

19. Nutalaq: fresh snow, powder snow.

20. Qannik: snowflake.

21. Qanniksuq: is snowing.

22. Qatiqsuniq: light snow, deep for walking.

23. Qiqsruqaq: glazed snow in thaw time.

24. Qarraqtualik: area with resonating snow.

25. Quvyugaq: whiteout.

26. Qimuagruk: snow drift blocking trail or in lee of a building.

27. Qiqsruqaq: thaw qlazed snow.

38. Nutaagun: when snow covers water with no ice.

29. Piqsiqsuq: is snow storming.

30. Piagnaq: snow condition good for sled (ready to fall) travel.

31. Pilik: ice crystals in the air.

32. Sisuuq: snow slide, avalanche.

33. Siquqtuaq: sun crusted snow (covering an open water spot).

34. Sillik: hard crusty snow.

35. Uggulaq: overly damp snow.

36. Uyumiqsuq: is misty, blurred. Snow crystals in the air.

37. Uullukkuu: snow that melts instantly.

  • Music Bridge:
    Jumpic
    Artist: Rom
    CD: Rom (Wimm)
More stories from our Change of Seasons series

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