the "Fast Track" piece "The Very, Very Tiresome Season
of Storms" [by Steven J. Dubner, February 28], Dr. Steven Pinker
of MIT is quoted as saying that Eskimos don't really have hundreds
of different words for snow. He states, "They have exactly
as many or perhaps two or three more words than English speakers."
I have spent the past 22 years living in an Inupiat Eskimo community.
According to the North Slope Borough's Inupiat History, Language,
and Culture division, the Inupiats have more than 30 words for snow,
and more than 70 for ice. In the Arctic, the specific conditions
of snow and ice are critical to hunting and survival; two or three
words would hardly cover our needs.
Elise Sereni Patkotak
Public Information Officer
North Slope Borough