YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories – In popular culture it has been reported that the Inuit language, Inuktitut, has over fifty words for describing ice, snow and their many forms. However, after quizzing a number of people I found that nobody has ever heard any of these words. Very suspicious. I’m an investigative reporter so I decided to investigate. My first stop was my trusty copy of the Encyclopedia Canadiana. It gave a few examples:
Qanik – snow falling
Aputi – snow on the ground
Pukak – crystalline snow on the ground
Aniu – snow used to make water
Siku – ice in general
Nilak – freshwater ice, for drinking
Qinu – slushy ice by the sea
I decided to make an on-the-scene survey of snow words, so I took the remaining money in the 2P News travel budget and hitchhiked to Yellowknife. I hung out in bars and chatted with the occasional Inuit who would come in. Surprisingly, not many knew more words than those on the above list. But, I did pick up a few more.
Pistonit – that yellow snow your mother told you not to eat
Carnikak – fine snow suitable for making sno-cones
Sicku – ice that will make you throw up
Qoqain – snow that will get you busted
Aswypak – snow that can be used in place of toilet paper
Qinqi – snow for the LGBT crowd
You know what, I’m not at all sure this list is for real. Given the way they were giggling, it could be the Inuit guys were just having fun with the white devil. And I was paying for the drinks. Jerks.