Urban legend of the Eskimos


There is an old urban legend that Eskimos have an extrordinarily large vocabulary for types of snow. Apparently the myth is usually blown out of proportion, but in its essence there is some truth: The more important a particular subject is to us, the richer our vocabulary will become to describe it.

For example, my flatmate, Viktor Bijelovic is a classical pianist. With my delicate ears, I can distinguish “soft” and “loud”, and can describe music as “yup, sounds good” and “uhhhh…”. (Okay, so I am exaggerating.) Viktor, on the other is able to critique the music he plays and listens to on a much finer level.

It is not just that he has a richer vocabulary, but he has significantly more experience observing music and paying attention to it. From his experiences he has learned to notice differences that I simply have not yet learned exist. By paying more attention to what we are experiencing in the present moment, we open ourselves up to understanding our reality at a deeper level.