I did a satisfying little bibliography crawl recently to track down some references on the wrong-but-ubiquitous idea that ‘Eskimo have 100/354/1,000 words for snow’ which I thought I’d share here for people’s convenience. Most of the work done on this topic comes from Laura Martin’s “‘Eskimo Words for Snow’: A Case Study in the Growth and Decay of an Anthropological Example”:http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-7294%28198606%292%3A88%3A2%3C418%3A%22WFSAC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A (aka American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 418-423). The more accessible and well-known publication is Geoffrey Pullum’s “Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax”:http://www.springerlink.com/content/k0h25l886617384u/?p=cbd1112e3d4a4a848723659c1522cf4a&pi=1 (Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 7, 275-281). It’s been published in several other places (you can check out his “publications list”:http://people.ucsc.edu/~pullum/publications.html). The way that some universities are today, though, you may have an easier time getting a PDF off of Springer than tracking “the eponymous paperback”:http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0226685349&id=jp5JCaP_xpIC&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=50UblijtvM&dq=geoffrey+pullum&sig=Tf-xoYyRCVhcG7BvdzGAC-nIbm8&hl=en. Finally, there is also a brief comment on “Snowing Canonical Texts”:http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-7294%28198706%292%3A89%3A2%3C443%3ASCT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-P by Stephen O. Murray (American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 89, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 443-444) which comments on Martin’s use of Boas’s original brief mention of snow. Anyway I thought it would be useful to have all this digested here.
The short version — for people who didn’t get the memo — is that the Eskimo do not have 100/354/1,000 words for snow.