virus: 400 words for BS

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 3 Jun 1997 11:26:19 -0400 (EDT)

Speaking of misleading statistical memes,

Steven Pinkner in, "The Language Instinct" insists that the whole "Inuit
have 400 words
for snow" linguistic imponderable is, in fact, an urban legend without
basis in fact.
According to him, the Inuit have neither significantly more nor
signifiantly less
words for describing frozen precipitation than exist in English.

This common "language-example" (even refered to in "Virus of the Mind" by
world renouned meme-guru Richard Brodie) has made the rounds of academics,
pundits, word-mavens,
and trivia-buffs for years...a successful meme despite any supporting evidence?

I leave it to you to conjure up rationales for why such a meme might carry coin.


Reed Konsler