The Snow Terminology in Nenets

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6 Responses to The Snow Terminology in Nenets

    • Roza Laptander says:

      Thank you, Stephan. I was just thinking, that maybe it is good to put it somewhere. It was always as a a pain in my neck. So, here it is.
      If to talk about snow, it is amazing how much usage it has in Nenets everyday life. Even children play with it not like just with throwing snowballs, but also making toys from it. I made pictures of this, but no place now, sorry. Next time.

      • Nuccio says:

        Thank you, Stephan and Roza! It would be interesting to compare it to the Sámi’s use of their snow terminology and see how similar or different they are and what do they prioritise. I did not know about toys made of snow apart from snowballs, … please tell us more!!!

  1. Roza Laptander says:

    Nuccio, thank you for your interest on the snow terminology. If to talk about snow toys, I would like to mention that publication in the Arctic anthropology Arctic Design and Indigenous Knowledge, where Svetlana Usenyuk wrote about the different usage of the traditional materials in the modern way, maybe not so much different from the original idea, but with different purpose or better usage.
    It seems that children when they pay, they use different ways of using the same thing. It is not just work of their imagination but also one of the important factors of their development. I think that they do not have steady stereotypes what that or this thing they should use in one sustain way, but they use just their imagination. They play and they are quite flexible during their games.
    Look, we all have such a stereotype that from snow you can make just a snow ball and also from three different size snow balls it is possible to make a snowman. No, I was just surprised that it is possible to make also those things that usually people could make from plaster or other materials which could easily change their shapes or formwork. The hard piece snow is also possible to use like piece of a stone. Well, in many Siberian towns it becomes as the New Year tradition to make in towns’ squares snow figures of forest animals, Frost man and so on. Thus, why not to make also snow toys.

  2. fstammle says:

    Snow texture, moisture and movement:
    thank you everybody for this discussion. I think snow terminology and its diversity has become a “classic” among Arctic linguistics and ethnography to demonstrate the elaborateness of what has become known as indigenous traditional ecological knowledge. It is almost as old as modern anthropology, if we go back to Franz Boas’ work with the Inuit. There is a nice chapter on that in the book by Krupnik and Mueller-Wille (Franz Boas and Inuktitut Terminology for Ice and Snow: From the Emergence of the Field to the “Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax”, chapter in SIKU: Knowing Our Ice; Documenting Inuit Sea Ice Knowledge and Use, Springer Verlag, 2010). Ole Henrik Magga has worked on this for the Sámi in an article from 2006, “Diversity in Saami terminology for reindeer, snow, and ice”, published in International Social Science Journal Volume 58, Issue 187, pages 25–34. I think the open-access paper here http://www.arcticlanguages.com/papers/Magga_Reindeer_and_Snow.pdf is pretty much the same.
    I like in Krupnik/Mueller-Wille’s chapter how they explain these snow terms related to their practical value. Related to that, I would like to start the following discussion:

    what do we know about the dynamics of river-ice and snow interaction when temperature changes? Many of us may have noticed that when the temperature changes, even to the colder, or after heavy snowfall, you get surface water on the river ice that is covered by snow. When you go on skis on the river, the water sticks to the runners of the skis, they get heavy and you can’t continue skiing. Sometimes this seems to be the result from the ice cracking and releasing water to the surface, which is then covered by snow and thus won’t freeze that fast. But one guy told me recently that after new snowfall there is a lot of pressure and cold-insulation on the bottom layers of the snow and therefore moisture is stored between the river ice and the snow. I remember from migrating with herders in winter in Siberia that sometimes indeed on lakes there is moisture even though it’s very cold outside. But I never asked what are the exact terms for these phenomena. Surely they exist, and they are related to very practical experience of moving and using snow and ice.

    • Roza Laptander says:

      Yes, that is right, what you wrote, that it was long time ago, when linguists and ethnographers start to collect all these words about snow. But here it is also clear that by changing climate and by changing living conditions people also start to make new words like for the dirty snow or for winter rains. They could tell stories about the time period just by marking special year when they suffered very much from icy snow, for e.g.

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