Cover Image: Fifty Words for Snow

Fifty Words for Snow

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Member Reviews

3.5 stars

A fascinating little book, perfect for language lovers everywhere! Hearing about all the different words was so interesting, and I really appreciated what a breadth of languages Campbell included - especially so many different Indigenous languages!
With that said, each entry was quite short for my liking and I often wished for a bit more depth. At times it felt a bit like fifty pieces of trivia, and I just wanted a bit more from it!
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An interesting and educational little read. I learned some new things and gained new insight. I really love language so if you do too: definitely a book for you!

I received this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for a fair review..
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Fifty Words for Snow is exactly what it says in the title and more.  In her prologue, Nancy Campbell describes the book as a ‘journey to discover snow in cultures around the world and through different languages’.  This beautifully produced book, with its myriad of unique snowflakes settling between each section, celebrates global diversity and ecology alongside unique vocabularies and traditions from Sami and Greenlandic to Hawaiian and Cherokee.  It will appeal to those who love words as much as those who love snow and winter.

The selection of words is broad and eclectic, many leading into so much more than a definition.  Word no. 44, Pana, means ‘snow knife’ in Inuktitut, the language spoken north of the treeline across Canada and traditionally a spoken, not a written language.  In this short essay, Nancy Campbell discusses the development of the first dictionary which evolved into the first novel in the language and was begun as recently as the middle of the last century.  The construction and purpose of an igloo, the importance and history of the pana, the culture of those who speak the language, all encompassed in a few pages.

Birds, words and snow being particular interests of mine, I was delighted to encounter Cirulputenis  - a blizzard of skylarks (no. 14) in Latvian, which describes the enchantment of a surprise snowfall in springtime.  On a similar theme, Newfoundland English offers Sparrow batch (no. 46) - a heavy, substantial fall of snow in late April said to bring back the sparrows.  The final word in the fifty: Suncups is a charming English word - new to me, which describes the shallow hollows in snow surfaces ‘as tiny as a watch or larger than the dial of grandfather clock’.  Nancy Campbell is a poet and this is evident in her writing but she doesn’t neglect the science, explaining carefully why suncups are formed and how the patterns migrate northwards ‘as if lured by colder places’.

The book can be read, as I did, from cover to cover, but it probably works best as something to dip into, almost at random, to fully appreciate the treasure exposed.  I shall be buying my own copy in readiness to do just that when the nights begin to close in once again.

My thanks to the author, to publishers Elliott & Thompson and to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an independent review.
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Fifty words for snow is an ecclectic book and I really enjoyed it. Using 50 ways of saying snow in different languages as the starting point it branches out to cover a wide range of topics including myths and folk legends, anthropology, natural history and climate change. I love books I can learn from so this was right up my street. There are some fascinating facts and revelations in this book, the chapters are short and you can dip in and out of it.

I’ve given it four stars as the one thing missing for me, given the nature of many of the words, was the inclusion of phonetics to show how the words should be pronounced.

All in all I found the book an enjoyable read, anyone who loves trivia will particularly enjoy it.
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A beautiful concept for a book, a lyrical exploration of different words for snow. Perfect non fiction read for winter. I would definitely recommend picking it up. 

Some of the chapters were fascinating and some were incredibly moving. I feel like a learned a lot about snow, other cultures and nature. I got a review copy from NetGalley but I will definitely pick this up as a Christmas gift for someone this year.
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I prefer a book I can lose myself in, so it is a little unfair to criticise this book for being something to dip in and out of.  It is interesting, and would make a good Christmas present, but I didn't love it.
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A very beautiful and informative book that looks at 50 different words from differing languages that are about snow. Whether it’s about snowflakes, ice roads, drifts, downfalls or shelter this is an immensely interesting read.

It’s amazing how the natural elements, in this case snow, can mean so much to so many but in hugely differing ways. To Thailand who have only one recorded snow fall to other countries whose people live a life very much shaped by this white {though not always!} wonder.

The perfect book to have on your bookcase and to pull out during the wintery months.
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This was a beautiful book to read about a season that can be difficult for so many. I learned so much from it about different cultures and their relationships with snow. This would make a great gift for anyone on your list and it will give you so many fun facts to share!
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I really enjoyed the premise of this book more than the actual content. I think I'm the wrong audience for this type of book, but I think the artwork and structure of this book is set up nicely for anyone who wants bite-size ways to absorb information and is interested in cultural and linguistic exploration.
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All around the world there are different words relating to snow. This book cleverly pulls fifty of them together and explains, in brief but fascinating chapters, their origins. I absolutely loved the snowflake illustrations. I was particularly interested in the Welsh link with Patagonia and their attempts to keep the language alive. Also the English 'suncups' that I've never heard of before. Thank you to Nancy Campbell, Net Galley and Elliot & Thompson for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thankyou for the chance to read this book. 

I absolutely adored reading this - especially during the recent cold snap. There’s just something about being curled up inside in the warm and reading about snow that does my soul good! This is the kind of book that will be an annual read of mine - the kind of book to bathe my soul in  at the close of the year.
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This was a wonderful book to dip in and out of during the recent cold snap. It was fun to read each entry and then look and see if our snow matched any the descriptions give.

A very readable book, but I'd have liked a phonetic guide to help pronounce each term.
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It is an interesting anthology of snow explored through words in several languages and as seen through the eyes of different cultures. It does get a little dry in certain parts, but altogether very readable.
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Thank you for early sight of this book, I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought a copy. I have posted about it on Instagram and Twitter, and left full reviews on amazon and Waterstones. 

I loved Nancy Campbell's previous book, Library of Ice, so was very excited to read this, Fifty Words for Snow is a small, beautiful book which takes a thoughtful look at how different cultures relate to snow, through the lens of language. While not quite as impactful as her last book, this would make an ideal gift for anyone interested in language or winter.
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I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you for the opportunity.
A quirky collection of knowledge that are quite limited to facts and little else. 
An OK read.
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This is an interesting little book which brings together fifty different short chapters about snow inspired by a variety of languages and cultures, but these glimpses often read like encyclopedia entries with no deeper connection. Despite finding the information compelling, the book left me wanting more. To me, it was at its best when the author offered a more personal approach, discussing her relationship to the subject matter, particularly her partner’s illness and the process she went through of having to relearn language, and I would have loved to see that weaved further.
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Thank you, NetGalley for this eBook! I don't know if I can call it an ARC since it was published last year.
This book was absolutely magical and I can't believe it was slept on. 
Fifty words for snow was beautiful. Of course, I had to look up a lot of things, the same way anyone reading this will have to. This book takes you on a journey from Kashmir to Estonia to Peru to the States, and go from words that are still in use, to languages that are all but gone. It's one of those books that makes you want to pack up your bags and set off.
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Beautifully written  a lyrical ode to snow..I grew up in a state where snow was common now I live in sunny California..where it is rare.The beautiful  description of snow drew me back in time to playing in the snow,the feel of snow drifting by,I will be recommending and gifting this gorgeous book,#netgalley #fiftywordsforsnow
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Nancy’s prose was mesmerising, with compelling undercurrents of the ancient magic that is storytelling itself. Each word explored became a springboard for a microcosm of the life, people and landscape it came from. The link between language and humanity’s relationship with snow was beautifully and poetically presented. I especially loved the folktales and ‘campfire’ stories threaded throughout the more factual explorations. My favourite was the Cherokee tale about The Sparrow and The Pine Tree.

'Fifty Words for Snow' also included some harsh reminders about the state of Climate Change and it’s rapid, wide reaching, and devastating effects. I feel that it’s presence in the book was necessary and sensitively handled. You can’t explore a world of snow without acknowledging the threat it’s under and the impact that will have on it's languages, people and cultures. Despite this, the tone was mostly one of hope. Hope in the perseverance and stamina of the natural world and the human spirit. Both forms of magic in their own right.

A fascinating, lyrical and seasonal read.
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This is such an exquisitely put together book - I adored it. Like many I'm in turn fascinated and enchanted by snow. It's so rare to see it where I live and yet I had always assumed most languages how just one one word for it. Not so! I had no idea there were quite so many different terms for it . The author takes us on a tour around the world and how different cultures refer to snow and explores the birth of the word and definitions too. It's the most enchanting read. I loved it.
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