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On Wed, 1 Jul 2009 20:04:00 -0700, J. Burke <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>I know next to nothing about the Eskimo-Aleut languages, but IS this an
urban legend?  Obviously, while there aren't 20+ roots for snow, these being
highly synthetic languages (on the order of Mohawk, I'm told), there very
well could be dozens of different words for snow, encompassing different
types, etc., all built from the same root (or a few different roots).  

Four roots, per Boas in _The Handbook of North American Indians_ (1911),
which started the whole foofarah.  
| ... just as English uses derived terms for a variety of forms of water 
| (liquid, lake, river, brook, rain, dew, wave, foam) that might be formed by 
| derivational morphology from a single root meaning 'water' in some other 
| language, so Eskimo uses the apparently distinct roots aput 'snow on the 
| ground', gana 'falling snow', piqsirpoq 'drifting snow', and qimuqsuq 'a 
| snow drift'.
Don't know which variety he will have been talking about.

>How many attested Eskimo words are there for snow?  Anyone know?

A little poking around yields a couple lists:
  http://tafkac.org/language/eskimo_words_for_snow_derby.html
gives 49 from West Greenlandic, with ice lumped in as well, and
  http://www.ecst.csuchico.edu/~atman/Misc/eskimo-snow-words.html
gives fifteen fews from Central Alaskan Yup'ik.  

Of course there's also the question of to what extent these bases have other
meanings as well, perhaps even other primary ones, and to what extent they
should be counted as words for snow in that event (cf. English "powder" --
is it a snow word?).  

Alex