Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell

3.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Campbell is fascinated by the White Stuff; her first book, The Library of Ice was about exploring the solid yet impermanent nature of ice. This is sort of a sequel to that book, and she was inspired to write it after that book and the time she spent in Greenland at the most northerly museum on the planet. It is always thought that the Inuit had at least fifty words for snow, but that has been proved to be a bit of a myth. They do have more words than English though.

What Campbell has done though is trawled through all sorts of languages to discover what their words are. She brings to life words from places that you’d expect, Japan, Scotland, Russia and Sweden. But there are words from places that I wasn’t expecting, Hawaii, Isreal and even Thailand, a place where you’d never expect it to snow.

Each word is prefaced by the wonderful photographs of Wilson Bentley who was the first know photographer of snowflakes. And there are some wonderful words in there too, so if you want to know the what kunstschnee, tykky and sniegas mean. Or you can learn what language needs a word for sharp ridges on the snow, what wind transported snow is, or what they call a snowman in Danish then this is the books for you.

Sadly, we rarely get snow here in Dorset, but as I sit here writing this review I have been updating a weather account that I follow on Twitter tracing the flurries of snow on New Years Day 2021 as it crosses Dorset. It didn’t quite make it from Blandford to Wimborne though, so we sadly had none. Not only is this a fascinating list of words, but it is a beautifully produced book, with a stunning cover and endpapers as well as the white and blue images of snowflakes all the way through.

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4 Comments

  1. Helen Williams

    Got this one in a secret santa! More snow forecast for the weekend here (Scotland) I think, so might be the time to pick it up!

    • Paul

      Sounds like a plan, Helen

  2. Liz Dexter

    I really liked this one

    • Paul

      It is really nicely put together

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