The Country Of Scotland Has Over 400 Different Ways To Talk About Snow

The country of Scotland is a proud and formidable region with a long, rich history. The hardy, resourceful, and resilient Scottish people have also surely been hardened by the nature of their country's often punishing climate and geography. The highlands of Scotland, in particular, are rugged, remote, and mountainous, and more than just a little prone to snow. The Scots are so familiar with this chilly weather phenomenon, in fact, that their remarkable language has more than 400 words for it, according to the Guardian.

University of the Highlands and Islands' Lews Castle College meteorologist Dr. Eddie Graham, per BBC, states that Scotland sees dramatic snowy periods at times. The Christmas period in 2010 saw one such occurrence, with the country being rocked by Arctic conditions working their way down from the north. These are rarities, but the higher the elevation in the Highlands, the more snow (and the more likely).

The Scottish are serious about snow

The tale that the Inuit people have numerous words for snow has been long repeated. Per The Washington Post, the anthropologist Franz Boas started this conversation in the late 19th century while staying in Baffin Island with the wonderful locals. Boas recorded, according to the outlet, that the native people used a wide array of words for snow to describe different types. This can fail to take into account, however, the length and breadth of the languages involved, as well as the crucial context being used.

"Another relevant fact when tallying snow terms involves how current these terms are in the language. Some of them are a part of any Inupiaq speaker's vocabulary ... Others are quite specialized ... and are likely to be known only by elders and particularly hunters," as Larry Kaplan wrote in the paper "Inuit Snow Terms: How Many and What Does It Mean?" per the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

If nothing else, it's a fascinating case study of the liquid and sophisticated nature of languages. Much of Scotland may not see as much snow as the regions the Inuit call home, but it appears that the Scottish language is even more fastidious in recording it. New research into the history of the Scottish language has apparently unearthed more than 400 snow-related words.

Just hope you're never snow-smoor

In September 2015, theĀ Guardian reported that the Historical Thesaurus of Scots was being created. This illustrious volume was the first of its type, according to the outlet, and it had a lofty goal indeed: to record every word that has ever been used in the history of the Scottish language. As was to be expected, the research unearthed some intriguing tidbits.

421 words pertaining to snow were discovered while the online resource was being compiled, the Guardian reports. Perusal of theĀ Historical Thesaurus of Scots reveals that these words include "Katty-clean-doors," which is reportedly "[a] child's name for snow." So many and varied are these terms that, if you had the misfortune to be "suffocat[ed] by snow," there's a Scottish word for that too: "[s]now-smoor."

Needless to say, such terms aren't all necessarily in common usage today, and may well be as baffling to contemporary Scots as they would to anyone else. Regardless, though, there are good reasons why so many such terms were used. As University of Glasgow linguistic expert Dr. Susan Rennie put it, according to the Guardian, "The number and variety of words in the language show how important it was for our ancestors to communicate about the weather, which could so easily affect their livelihoods."