Eskimo "Snow" Words
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Eskimo "Snow" Words

This page URL: http://www.nationalfinder.com/inuit/index.htm

Compiled by Roger Harris  1998-2004
E-mail:
inuit@nationalfinder.com
Updated: 14 November 2004



Inuit and "snow words"                 Date: 1995
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Much has been written about the large number of Inuit words for snow. 
I have read similar claims for Arabic and sand.

I am neither an Inuit speaker nor a trained linguist. I am a computer 
programmer by trade. A year or so ago I wanted to extract sub-strings 
from words. For example, 'word' yields [w,o,r,d,wo,or,rd,wor,ord].

Co-incidentally, on the Internet, in the sci.lang newsgroup, in September 1994 
there had been a discussion about Eskimo "snow" words. Then by chance, 
in a second-hand book shop I found a copy of "Eskimo Stories" by Zebedee 
Nungak and Eugene Arima, published by The National Museums of Canada in 
1969. It is a collection of some 46 short stories from Inuit folklore, 
derived from the town of Povungnituk on the east coast of Hudson Bay. 
The stories are presented as parallel texts with the Inuit text being 
accompanied by an English translation, both in Latin letters, but with 
the Inuit text in lower-case letters and the English translation in 
mixed upper-case and lower-case letters.

Using Wordstar ver.4, I typed in five stories using the Inuit version 
of each story. The resulting text amounted to 516 Inuit words.

Then, using Wordstar's indexing facility, I extracted a list of all 
the words in the stories together with an indication of the frequency 
of occurrence for each word. The following table gives a summary of 
the results.

                                            cumulative
Frequency of        number     percent       percent 
 occurrence        of words    of total      of total
     1               479         92.8         92.8
     2                24          4.7         97.5
     3                 6          1.2         98.7
     4                 1          0.2         98.9
     5                 1          0.2         99.1
     6                 2          0.4         99.5
     7                 1          0.2         99.7
     8                 1          0.2         99.9
     9                 1          0.2        100.1 
   -----           ------       ------       ------
                     516        100.1  (slight error due to rounding)
                   ------       ------
The average word length was 14.8 characters. 

Inuit is an agglutinative language; words are made up of stems and 
roots joined together into what appear to be single words. Each Inuit 
word appears to function as a phrase or short sentence. 

While I have not investigated Inuit snow words as such, the results 
in the table above suggested to me that Inuit has a different word 
for almost everything. Nearly 93% of the words in the stories were only 
used once and words which occurred no more than twice accounted for
97.5% of the text! An Inuit word appears to contain far more 
information than an English word. Perhaps the final word (no pun 
intended) on Eskimo snow words will come from a specialist in 
information theory.


References: 
-----------
You will find "snow" references in The Linguist List 5.1246, 5.1252, 
5.1244, 5.1259. The best contribution in the debate on "Eskimo snow 
words" was that of Keith Denning  who had not only looked in an Inuit 
dictionary but was able to report and explain in good prose. 

At http://www.urbanlegends.com/language/eskimo_words_for_snow_derby.html
you will find a detailed discussion of Inuit 'snow words' by Stuart Derby 
(sderby@crick.ssctr.bcm.tmc.edu), 1994. The author lists, with translations, 
'snow words' from Labradoran Inuit (10 words) and from West Greenlandic (49 words).

A downloadable TrueType font for Inuit/Inuktitut (Mac and Windows formats) 
may be found at the University of Oregon Yamada Language Centre: 
http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/fonts/inuit.html. The zipped files include 
a commentary by K. Srinivasan (srini@ireq-num.hydro.qc.ca dated 1 August 1993.

Inuit dictionaries and lists of words:
http://www.alaskool.org/language/dictionaries/inupiaq/dictionary.htm?submit=Inupiaq+On-line+Dictionary
http://www.inuitdog.de/inhalte/store/texte/dictionary.html
http://tafkac.org/language/eskimo_words_for_snow_derby.html


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Here is an alphabetical list of all the sub-strings in the Inuit word 
"unikkaatuat" (Eskimo stories): 

a           i           ka          kkaatu       nikkaatu   un
aa          ik          kaa         kkaatua      nikkaatua  uni
aat         ikk         kaat        kkaatuat     nikkaatuat unik
aatu        ikka        kaatu       n            t          unikk
aatua       ikkaa       kaatua      ni           tu         unikka
aatuat      ikkaat      kaatuat     nik          tua        unikkaa
at          ikkaatu     kk          nikk         tuat       unikkaat
atu         ikkaatua    kka         nikka        u          unikkaatu
atua        ikkaatuat   kkaa        nikkaa       ua         unikkaatua
atuat       k           kkaat       nikkaat      uat        unikkaatuat

--------------------------------------------------------------
Here is the list of words derived from the five Eskimo stories.

Aggaminik 
Ailirngniquq 
Aippanga 
Aiviup 
Akianuuqpuq 
Akiasiliqquq 
Akillinut 
Akuni 
Akunialuk 
Alakkatumik 
Alimaivuq 
Alittuqattaliqquuk 
Amaaqtaminik 
Amaatsianiqsaulirngmat 
Amutuinnasugu 
Anaqraalumminut 
Angiluaqtumik 
Anginiqsait 
Anginiqsanik 
Angiyumik 
Angummik 
Angutipaaluuyurinnimaguuq 
Angutyuamik 
Anguyauvilirami 
Anigami 
Anigialirngniquq 
Anilirngniquq 
Aniluni 
Aniqsailangaaliqquq 
Aniqsailingaaqsuni 
Anirngniqangimat 
Anirngniqanituuyaqtumik 
Anirngniqarasuarani 
Anirngniqarngmangaat 
Anirngniqatyangittukanna 
Anirngnisiuqattasuni 
Anitsiarisitsugu 
Anivingiqqauyanganut 
Anngutivallialirngniquq 
Anqrasilirngniquq 
Anurilirngmat 
Apaagik 
Aqaquyayuq 
Aqqusiniqaalutsasutik 
Aqsauyayumik 
Aqsauyayuq 
Aqsauyayurli 
Aqsauyayuup 
Aqsurulirngmata 
Aqsurungiumik 
Aqsuruqattamat 
Aqsuruqattatuq 
Aqsururanitaatsutuna 
Aqsururngnisautsuni 
Arngaaluq 
Arngasiagummat 
Arngautuinnamut 
Arngnaalu 
Arngnaalunga 
Arngnaalunganik 
Arngnaaluq 
Arngnaapiguna 
Arngnaapimmik 
Arngnaruna 
Asianut 
Asuila 
Asuilaa 
Ataani 
Ataataak 
Atiginga 
Atilik 
Atiqargnimiyuq 
Atsualuk 
Atsunaamut 
Atyiqaliqquq 
Ikaaqtait 
Ikingitigut 
Ilaanit 
Illiminut 
Illulik 
Illumita 
Illunganut 
Illungataguuq 
Illuqaqpatuviniit 
Illuqarngniramik 
Iluani 
Iluunnaani 
Imaaguug 
Imaak 
Imiliqquq 
Imiqsugu 
Imisivuq 
Immaqaa 
Immaqaataga 
Immiuyiluaqsunili 
Imuk 
Inuguuq 
Inuit 
Inuk 
Inullu 
Inummik 
Inummit 
Inummut 
Inunnguaq 
Inunnik 
Inunnut 
Inuppalu 
Inuppamik 
Inuppaq 
Inuqarngniuyatyangimali 
Inuqqap 
Inutsiutuq 
Inutuinnamit 
Inutuusugumataguuq 
Inuugaluaqsutik 
Inuummiyugaluarngnilli 
Inuuqatiminut 
Inuusirinnisaummangaat 
Inuusirngminiuqquutuq 
Inuutsutik 
Inuuvivinigalagik 
Ipilirngniramiguuq 
Iqaluggilaq 
Iqalut 
Iqaluuyaliqquq 
Iqaluuyaqquq 
Iqravimminik 
Iqsinaqtunik 
Iqsinaqtuq 
Iqsinaqtuugami 
Iqsinarami 
Iqsinarngmata 
Isiriaqtumut 
Isuagut 
Isumaliqquq 
Isumalirami 
Isumataaqpuq 
Itikallatuinnaquq 
Itiqsigiaqturumaliqquq 
Itiqsilirngniquq 
Itiqsimalirami 
Itiqsivinga 
Itiqsugu 
Iyimi 
Kaagami 
Kamangunnaiquk 
Kataalungaguuq 
Katammiitumik 
Katammiqataminik 
Katanganiitsuni 
Katanganut 
Katattailitsisuni 
Kinguningagut 
Kinguningani 
Kisiani 
Kiuliqquq 
Kiuqattarunnaimat 
Kiuyauliqquq 
Kukkiliqtutuq 
Kuuliqquq 
Laqattaliqtuviniq 
Layauqqattalirami
Maqaittunik 
Maqsisuuviniq 
Mirnguturami 
Naalaliqquq 
Naammanaagaqsuni 
Naanga 
Naangmigut 
Nakunaariniquq 
Nallapuq 
Nallia 
Nalulirami 
Nammagumatsuga 
Nammasugu 
Nammataulirami 
Nammatautsuni 
Nammiuliqqaa 
Namunganiarngniminik 
Namutuinnaq 
Nanuraak 
Nanurngmiguuq 
Nappasugu 
Naqittulirngmat 
Niaquanganik 
Nipakkaivammat 
Nipakkaivannimata 
Nipakkaivattuq 
Nirumiarluni 
Nirutuuguningani 
Nittayummarialuuk 
Nuiliq 
Nuilirlu 
Nuitavuq 
Nukingit 
Nukiqangilaq 
Nulianga 
Nunamit 
Nunaup 
Nunguliruq 
Nunguutsigasuaqsuni 
Nuqiqattaliqquq 
Nuqiqattamat 
Nuqqakami 
Nuqqaliqquq 
Nuqqaliramik 
Nuqqasutik 
Paaliramik 
Paaliutyigumaliqquq 
Paaqattasutillu 
Paaqqaaliutyilauqtuviniq 
Paqqaaniquq 
Piaraalungik 
Pigiarngniquuk 
Piiqsilirami 
Piiriallanaguli 
Pikiaqattamata 
Piliramik 
Pinasuagauvalirngnimiyuq 
Pinasuagauyuviniq 
Pinasuaqvinigik 
Pinasuutinirngmanik 
Pinngisiqtusuni 
Piqraitillugu 
Pisusigami 
Pisusigivuq 
Pisutsuni 
Pitiqattautilauqtuviniik 
Pitisimayiminik 
Pititsiqarami 
Pityutigitsugutsainaq 
Piulinagaqtaqaqsunilu 
Piuluarngmat 
Piyariigmat 
Piyariiramik 
Piyunnamangaat 
Qaaqsuni 
Qaarami 
Qaiqtumi 
Qaiqtumik 
Qaningitumik 
Qaningitumiuna 
Qanittumi 
Qanuinniamangaat 
Qanukiaq 
Qanurlimannaa 
Qaqqaalummut 
Qaqyuminik 
Qaqyumununa 
Qarligik 
Qauyimalirami 
Qauyimangitunut 
Qayangminik 
Qayaup 
Qiituq 
Qiiturlu 
Qikaliqquq 
Qikatuinnalirngniquq 
Qimaaliqquq 
Qiningisiqtusuni 
Qininrami 
Qiniqattarami 
Qiniqturuna 
Qinisilirngniquq 
Qinisivuq 
Qitiqsiminut 
Qitiqsimiqattasutillu 
Qitiqsinga 
Qitiqsinganit 
Qitungaalumminut 
Qiviaqattarami 
Qiyuttarialirngniquq 
Qiyuttarutaugiamik 
Qiyuttarutigitsugu 
Quanguyaaqtuq 
Quanguyaarasuaqsuni 
Quanguyaarasuaqtuq 
Qupigayaqpuq 
Saakiluusi 
Saakiluusimik 
Saakittuugami 
Saakittuumat 
Sakkuqattasugit 
Sakkusimatt 
Sanasimangimat 
Sanasimayayuq 
Saniani 
Sanimini 
Sauminganilluunniit 
Sayulirngniquq 
Sikkiliqtilugu 
Sikkituinnaliqquq 
Siniliqtuq 
Sinisilirngniquq 
Siqiniq 
Siqiniup 
Sirlaapik 
Siuriaqpuq 
Sivullipaami 
Sivulliviniit 
Sugiaq 
Sukkattumik 
Suli 
Suliyuq 
Sunatuinnamut 
Sunaupva 
Sunautsagunnainiqquq 
Sunautsarunnairami 
Sunngilak 
Suqqaqangituq 
Suqqayangituq 
Suqquisigasuaqsuni 
Suunguniqsausarayangimangaat 
Suunguyuviniruna 
Taana 
Taanna 
Taannatauq 
Taatsuminga 
Taga 
Tagali 
Tagataga 
Taikunga 
Taimaak 
Taimaataga 
Taimailuurluni 
Taimainnimaniik 
Taimaippamat 
Taimangat 
Tainna 
Tainnaliaqsauyayuq 
Taitsuminga 
Takulaurani 
Takuliqquq 
Takulirami 
Takuliramiuk 
Takulirngniquq 
Takungilaq 
Takunnaapigasuaqattaliqquq 
Takunnaavallutut 
Takuqattatuq 
Takuvukinuppamik 
Tamaani 
Tappaunga 
Taqagayaqtuq 
Taqaiqsiqattatuq 
Taqaliqtuq 
Taqqamani 
Taqqilimaami 
Tatsigunnaimat 
Tatsikamiuk 
Tatsilikkaivuq 
Tatsilirngmat 
Tatsinga 
Tatsisungusilirngniquq 
Tatsitualuuliqquq 
Tauqsiitatuinnasutik 
Tiguliqqa 
Tiguliqqaa 
Tigumiaqsuni 
Tigusigasualirngniquq 
Tigusiqattaliqquq 
Tigusiqattalunga 
Tikiliqquq 
Tikilirngmat 
Tikimmat 
Tikinayarngmangarngmik 
Tikiutinniyangituq 
Tikiutiyuviniugaluaq 
Tikiutyiyuviniq 
Tiqqiaqaqsuni 
Tittaulirngniquq 
Tulliraaqtuq 
Tuniq 
Tunirli 
Tunirngmut 
Tuniugamik 
Tuniup 
Tuniusutik 
Tupviuvuq 
Tuqungagami 
Tuqungayuq 
Tuqungualunga 
Tuqunguapuq 
Tuquraivannimata 
Tuqutaulangaliqqunga 
Tuqutsigiaqtusuni 
Tuqutuinnaniarngmisuni 
Tuqutuinnaniquq 
Tusaumagami 
Tusaumanaqquq 
Tuuniik 
Tuurnngait 
Tuurnngaq 
Tuurnngauniraivannimata 
Tuurnngauniraqtauyut 
Uatimut 
Uipuuk 
Ulimailirngniquq 
Ulimallugu 
Ulimaummik 
Ulimautialunganik 
Ullaaruqtasutik 
Ullasilirngniquq 
Ullutamaat 
Umigiutityagatik 
Unammigiliqqaa 
Unammigiyaminik 
Unammigiyaulilaurngmiyuq 
Unamminangimat 
Unikkaaguvuq 
Unikkaangittara 
Unikkaatuaq 
Unniinuna 
Uppikakasaaqattaturuuq 
Uppikakasaaqattuq 
Uqaliqpuuk 
Uqaliquq 
Uqausiqtanga 
Uqautiyaugaluarami 
Uqautiyauvuq 
Uqautyiqattatuviniq 
Uqpinik 
Uqpitiguuqattatuq 
Uqpitiguuqattatuuquqpinik 
Uqrukasatsuni 
Utaqqigiaqtusuni 
Utaqqiliqquq 
Utiqqaungillaq 
Utirunnnatuq 
Utirutyisituinnaliqquli 
Utirutyisivuq 
Uulli 
Uumayumik 
Uumigiutityagatik 
Uutulirngniriuuk 
Uutuniarngmat 
Uutuquyiliqquq 
Uutusigivuq 
Uutuutituinnasutik 
Uutuutivannimata 

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