English lacks a rich snow vocabulary

They say that Eskimos have 30 words for snow or something like that. I was complaining to my friends about snow the other day, and I just couldn’t find the proper vocabulary. It couldn’t possibly be my fault; our language must need more words. When it’s falling from the sky our distinctions are pretty good: snow if it’s soft, sleet if it’s mush, rain if it’s water and hail if it’s millions of tiny ping-pong balls. We even have colorful colloquialisms like “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “it’s hailing taxis” or “it’s coming down like Hugh Grant’s trousers.” However, once it hits the ground, we simply don’t have the words to describe it; there’s snow and slush. That’s it. This doesn’t even begin to explain all the types of stuff on the ground. At the risk of attracting great contempt from both Merriam and Webster, I have created some new words so we may speak about snow with more precision:

Sprizzle: This is the tiny, almost non-existent snow-ish substance that seems powdered atop the real world, like the sugar on a donut that you know is going to be all over your clothes for the rest of the day. You know when the sheets of snow are just blowing across the ground, not sticking to anything, all moving like a giant white sandstorm? It’s almost as if it’s not even on the ground, just suspended around you and waiting for wind. You can even watch lines progress across a sidewalk if you look carefully; it’s surreal at times. Of course, at other times you can watch the snow fly directly into your eyes, down your shirt and up your nose.

Crounk: This is that kind of snow that’s crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. Like a taco, but only less spicy. You’ve got the regular powdery snow that’s fallen and piled up, but the top has iced over and is a bit shimmery and sparkly. And it looks like you can walk on top of it, but then the surface breaks through and “crounk!” you sink down until the snow entirely devours your feet in a savage soggy snack. “Crounk!” I think onomatopoeic words are just inherently fun, like tintinnabulation (which actually means the sound that bells make, for you Div. 3 majors). What a great word!

Mleuckh: This is that brownish disgusting stuff that you see after it hasn’t snowed for a few days. The cars have gone by, the plows have turned the snow over, and it’s all brown and barely recognizable as belonging to the snow family. Pronunciation of mleuckh varies according to the water content; the “ckh” sounds more like phlegm if the mleuckh is more melted. Really watery mleuckh can also be referred to by stretching out the vowel sounds (mleeeuuuuckh).

Splooshdamn: This is the bad concoction that occurs when it’s not cold enough for crounk. A whole bunch of watery slush lies contained beneath a layer of innocent-looking snow. The name for this one came to me when I was walking to Baxter. I saw that the concrete looked slippery and decided to walk around it to be safe. I thought to myself, “Oh, I’ll just avoid the icy sidewalk by walking on the sno—” “SPLOOSH! Damn.” And my shoes were soaked. Hence, watch out for the splooshdamn.

Have I mentioned that I like words that are onomatopoetic? I hope that these new precise terms will make it easier for friends to warn each other about lousy weather conditions outside. (Sadly, there has still been no progress in abating lousy weather conditions inside. Most student dorms on campus have specially designed heaters that have been preset to one of two settings, which cannot be changed: 1. Off. 2. Broil.) Think of the trouble you could avoid if your suitemate said to you, “Oh, don’t step in the splooshdamn between Stetson and the library,” or “Look out for the moron outside of Griffin.”

Actually, the moron outside of Griffin would have been me. Last week it was raining rather heavily so I decided to use my umbrella. Unfortunately, it was also windy enough that my umbrella turned inside out and I nearly lost my balance and fell into some mleuckh. After a small struggle with my umbrella (technically a draw, although I still claim victory in spite of the disdainful glances from passers-by), I managed to get it mostly right side in again and fold it back up. I then continued walking to Griffin in the pouring rain while carrying a large closed umbrella and getting completely soaked. Weather report: Scattered showers with a 25 percent chance of moron. At least now we have appropriate words to describe the various types of snow I managed not to fall in. Good luck out there, and stay out of the splooshdamn.

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