Monday, May 24, 2010

91 Words for Snowboard – The different words for snowboard around the world

91 Words for Snow is still one of the best snowboard DVDs out there. It’s a movie that looks at the wide variety of disciplines that the sport of snowboarding includes and the title comes from the story that the Eskimos have 91 different words for snow. Unfortunately that story is an urban legend, because in reality the Eskimo language have about the same number of words for snow as English has. It got us wondering though, how many words for snowboard are there? As there is clearly only one word for that in English, and that would be an extremely short and miserable blog post, we decided to find out what the word for snowboard was in the other languages of the world…

The language of snowboard around the globe
We took all the words we could find in the different languages and stuck them on a map to see if there were any interesting trends
(Click on the image to see a larger version)

Bloody hell do the Russian’s have a big country. You forget all about the sheer scale of the place until, one day you end up sticking a whacking great сноуборд on a map in the interests of snowboard science. Apart from Russia being massive here are a few other interesting things about the map…

Quite a lot of languages have just not bothered and instead of coming up with their own word that have just used the English word. Seeing as the word snowboard is just the words ‘snow’ and ‘board’ banged together you would have thought that a direct translation would have been an easy thing to do and a lot more common. The French gave it a try with planche à neige, but as is the way with the French they quickly gave up.

A number of mini countries in Europe have gone to the trouble of getting their own word with the plucky little Baltic states all having a go. Bless

The Georgian word is probably the best looking (სნოუბორდის) but the Thai (สโนว์บอร์ด), Japanese (スノーボード) and Arabic (لتزلج على الألواح) ones are also very pretty.

Unsurprisingly the closer to the equator the language got, the less chance there was of finding out what the word for snowboard is. We had to settle for the Thai word for snowboarding and we suspect the Arabic word has only just been invented. We found it on the Dubai snowdome site, and by cross referencing with the dependable Google images tool, it would appear that the same word also seems to describe ice dancing. No idea how that works. 

Seeing as this map ended up being dominated by countries like Russia and Canada that are full of not very much, we thought it would be interesting looking at the languages by the number of people that use them…

If snowboard was a language it would be the biggest language in the world
Chinese is by far the world’s largest language with 1.21 billion speakers, and their word for snowboard is 滑雪板. In comparison the other languages are much smaller, with the second largest language Spanish having 329 million speakers, and third largest English having 328 million.

As we’ve already seen though, a bunch of major languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, and Italian, chose to adopt the word snowboard and because of that the word snowboard is used by 1.25 billion people...

At least those are the numbers in theory, because I’ve been snowboarding in China and I can tell you that there are not 1.21 billion snowboarders rocking around the place. So we needed to find out how much these different words were used.

The most frequently used words for snowboard
To find this out we decided to see how often the words are used in the internet, so we ran a Google search for each word to find out how many results there were.
The volume of each of the words represents the number of results there were. (Click on the picture to see a larger version)

Snowboard was a clear winner and the smallest word was the Latvian word sniegadēļa, it’s in the middle of the o in snowboard.

Sniegadēļa wasn’t the smallest though, no, that reward goes to the Welsh word eirfwrdd. Although it exists in a few Welsh/English dictionaries and translations tools, in the real world there is no evidence that the word is used by a single person.

A few other interesting things we found while searching for these words:
  • The Czech word for snowboarding is snowboardingu
  • The Croatian language has a specific name for female snowboarders - boarderica
  • The German language wins the award for longest snowboard associated word with their word for a grom - nachwuchssnowboarder

Google Image searches of the words for snowboard
While we were running the Google searches we had a look at the image searches to see if there were any interesting trends there.

Haitian Creole apparently uses the word snobord. Again Haiti is not the sort of place that you would think would need their own word for snowboard, but what made it strange was that it had the third most image results on the internet. The Russian сноуборд was first, snowboard was second and the Haitian snobord was third, a long way ahead of any others. I can only think that some sinister James Bond-type villain must be in that country running some sort of snowboard image gallery sweatshop scam.

Best image search was using the Korean 스노우 보드. There are some very strange folks in that there country.

25 words for snowboard….so far
We looked at over 60 different languages for this article and through those searches we found 25 different words for snowboard, but I’m sure there are more. For example, we couldn’t find the word for snowboard in Hindi although that is the 5th largest language in the world. If you know what the Hindi for snowboard is, or any others we missed, let us know.

Also there are probably some spelling errors in this lot so let us know if there is. We are not fluent in a couple of these languages and had to rely on the internet.

Here's the full list:

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1 comment:

  1. You actually missed the Norwegian word for snowboard, snøbrett. Although snowboard is more commonly used alot of people still use snøbrett.


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