One often hears the old tale about how the culture that we exist in closes us off from much of the world around us. This assertion is usually illustrated by the chestnut about the Innuit having so many different words for “snow”, implying that they have a greater understanding and sensitivity toward snow than non-Innuit because they have so many more ways to talk about it. This is kind of crazy, because surely the Innuit are more sensitive to snow because they live in snow all the time! Anyone else living there would have an equal appreciation for the subtleties of snow even if they didn’t speak Innu or know anything of the Innuit culture. In fact, it might also be crazy because it might not be true. Let’s take a look at the various words that the Innuit use for snow and compare them to English words.
via Lexicon of Snow.
Short version could be summed up as the “more words for X” thing being a misunderstanding of how English works; things are usually described in phrases unless there’s a reason for them to get their own word. (IE, “avalanche” instead of “snow slide that is happening at relatively high speed.”)
I found the list of snow-type words pretty cool, anyways. *rimshot*