Yesterday was supposedly World Sauntering Day (though some people seem to think the date has been moved to August 28th.) I knew nothing of this holiday until I saw it on my iGoogle homepage on the WikiHow gadget. My first question to myself was “Why did I install this gadget?” Then I asked “Did I saunter yesterday?” The answer to the first question was, “To have a daily reminder of the silliness of this world.” The answer to the second was, “No, but I did hike.” Does hiking count? I suppose it doesn’t because not once during the hike did I saunter. I trudged, plodded, bounded, skipped, jogged, dragged, strode, and marched, but not once did I wander, mosey, stroll, perambulate, or even saunter.
The Eskimos have a gazillion words for snow? Well, step aside because I believe English has a gazillion and one words for walk. Actually, neither language has quite the proliferation of vocabulary as urban legend likes to claim. The list of words for snow in various Eskimo languages can be attributed partly to their prolonged exposure to the stuff during much of the year, which means they have more time or inclination to perceive more subtle variations than we do, and thus need more words for it. However, English is no slouch in the vocabulary department. Certainly, there are English-speakers in Northern climes who speak of snow, slush, flurries, blizzards, sleet, freezing rain, hail, and flakes. Many of us also know the difference between good, packing snowball-fight snow and powder. So in this sense, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two languages. Perhaps we both have more words for various types of frozen precipitation than, say, the Bantu languages of central Africa, but not to such a number that it deserves to be included in some Whacky Fact of the Week feature. Continue reading