Researchers at the University of Glasgow have identified 421 words relating to ‘snow’ for a new Historical Thesaurus of Scots.
They range from ‘snaw’, to ‘spitters’ (small drops of wind driven snow), and ‘flindrinkin’ (a slight snow shower).
Scots also have multiple words for ‘rain’ and ‘mist’.
Little surprise there.
The wide range of terms show how important observation of the weather has been for people in Scotland, a largely agricultural country, to distinguish subtle graduations of weather.
An ability to detect and to communicate the quality of wind driven snow could affect livelihood.
It might be the difference between a light dusting on a farmer’s sheep or the loss of a flock in a 10 foot snowdrift.
Simon Baron-Cohen’s autism research identified 412 discrete human emotions which he and his team categorised into 24 groups. These he simplified further to six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust. (Pixar reduced this to five in Inside Out.)
Developing a vocabulary to label the emotions that we experience enables us to perceive more of what we go through day to day.
This in turn gives us a greater capacity to be curious about why we might be feeling a particular way at a particular time.
We become more emotionally literate.
Emotional awareness can help us to distinguish between the light flurries of anxiety and overwhelming snowdrifts of impending depression.