Towards a Yorkshire dictionary of snow…

Posted on

Malhamdale in a ‘snadding’. A what?! Read on…

Looking back over the entries to this journal there’s a definite bias towards winter themes and more than a touch of appreciation for snowy scenery.  If a reader had never visited Malhamdale they might have the impression that it’s by and large an icy wilderness populated by shivering sheep.  Nothing could be further from the truth… in fact during a recent snowfall one long term resident told me it had be several years since snow had lain as thickly – although it used to be more of an annual event, the rules of climate change applying here in Airton as in the rest of the country…

There’s a simple explanation to my blogging more in the winter.  It’s a time more than ever when the landscape I love to explore and write about seems to change faces from day to day with varying light levels, low sun angles, atmospheric moisture, and yes, the comings and goings of the snow.  On the other hand, at this time of year the Barn is less busy, so whilst I enjoy the outdoors throughout the year, there’s more time in winter to write about it.  Perhaps I hope to tempt a few more visitors to experience the magic of a Malhamdale winter!  (Though unfortunately the daily changes in weather that make it so interesting for me mean that snow and frost can’t be guaranteed to ice the cake of a stay in Airton at any time of year.)

By the river below Airton in a ‘snidding’. That’s right.

However, there’s more to my penchant for wintry walks and snowy tales than aesthetic appreciation or convenient timing.  Winter might be the dog end of the year, with its gloomy, short days and brown, muddy fields but the annual stasis of the natural world is also a prompt to slow down and be a little less preoccupied myself.  Just as the best ideas often come to people during sleep, the energies needed for the coming months can be gathered during winter.  Deliberately taking the foot off the throttle a little can allow the germ of new things to emerge from the compost of what has gone before – interests, projects, even at times an entirely new direction.  Of course, this doesn’t have to happen in winter, but the analogy is both convenient and resonant.

Here’s a new thing: with every winter’s day looking different here in the Dales, it’s not hard to understand the legendary proliferation of Innuit words for snow.  I’ve counted at least 3 types only today…  So I’ve looked a bit into whether ‘the Yorkshire Dialect’ (of which I know there are many variants) can make any similar claims.  The result?  The only word I can find for snow is ‘snah’.  Now that seems remiss to me, so I’ve made an entirely unauthorised executive decision and would like to propose the following completely made up pseudo-dialetical words for the stuff in at least some of its forms:

frickle                   snow falling as light, dryish flecks

snarush                snow falling in thick wet clumps of snowflakes

snamush              the same but already half way to melting by the time they reach the ground

slat                        sleet

snawhit                a blizzard – a proper white-out

frish                      snow like a grainy powder showing up the crevices in stone walls

frawp                    a dusting of snow on wet grass

frash                     a thin layer of wettish snow laying on top of partly thawed ice

freck                     a thin layer of cold, dry snow laying on top of an even colder layer of ice

squaff                   snow that squeaks under foot

flurrm*                 an impending snowfall that makes the sky look pinkish

flerrm*                 an impending snowfall that makes the sky look yellow

slurrm*                an impending snowfall under a damp grey sky

slah                       slush

drish                     snow that’s been chopped about and got riddled o’ dirt

snud                      compacted snow that’s been driven on

snadding              a full blanket of snow on a damp overcast day

snidding               a full blanket of snow lit up by sunshine (the best sort)

*In these examples, the double ‘r’ should be pronounced as a separate syllable.

[If ever any of these words get into regular use I’ll deny all knowledge.  And just in case one person’s snow is another person’s rotten cabbage, the same goes if they just happen to coincide with obscenities in any existing language or dialect.]

Well, I’m glad I’ve got that out there.  Now what were my jobs for the rest of January..?

Airton in the grip of a ‘snarush’.  According to the “Simon’s made-up dictionary of new Yorkshire snow-words” that is…
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Towards a Yorkshire dictionary of snow…

    Peter Toms - Settle Meeting said:
    January 22, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for setting this up – I like it

      airtonhostel responded:
      January 22, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      You’re welcome! Just a flurrit of fancy… make up a new word every day, that’s what I say!

Comments are closed.