In Scotland, "Snaw-Pouther" Is Just One of 421 Words for Snow

Some people claim that Eskimos have 50 words for snow, but that would but them well behind the Scots.

Janet Burns
24 . 09 . 15

Some people claim that Eskimos have 50 words for snow, but that would but them well behind the Scots. University of Glasgow researchers working to compile the first-ever Historical Thesaurus of Scots have already logged 421 different Scottish terms for snow.

Launched today, the online thesaurus is being developed to document, trace, and link words that exist throughout the many variations of the Scottish dialect. The collection will also help mark the history and heritage of the language. While the team has a long road ahead, they’ve already got a good start on documenting terms for weather and sport—“two key talking points for Scots across the centuries,” language scholar Dr. Susan Rennie told The Guardian.

The many words for snow reflect the wide spectrum of frozen-water types. And according to Rennie, the “number and variety of words ... show how important it was for our ancestors to communicate about the weather, which could so easily affect their livelihoods.”
The extensive list includes: “
flup" for sleet, “glush" for anything resembling pulp, especially mud or snow beginning to melt, “goor" for slush of half-melted snow, and “Katty-clean-doors," a child's name for snow.

And frozen water isn’t the only concept to be worth (possibly much more than) its weight in words within the traditional Scottish lexicon. Researchers working on the world of verbalised weather have found more than 400 terms for rain, and the game of marbles (designated in the ‘sport’ category by researchers) already has 369 words in its cache.

[h/t BBC News]