Monthly Archives: July 2006

A different language is a different vision of life ~ Federico Fellini

All languages are not created equal. According to The Meaning of Tingo : And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World by Adam Jacot de Boinod, the Albanian dictionary contains 27 different words each for eyebrows and mustache.

In England and in America, we know Rice Crispies cereal goes”Snap, crackle, pop!” but in Germany, they go “Pif! Paf! Pouf!” In France, they go “Cric! Crac! Croc!” In Spain, they go “Cris! Cras! Cros!” And in Holland, they go “Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!”

Do you remember Sniglets? Gosh, I loved Sniglets! They’re (made up) words that don’t appear in the dictionary but should. Here are some real words from other languages (from the book, The Meaning of Tingo), that I think we should adopt.

Nakhur (origin: Persian) – A camel that won’t give milk until her nostrils are tickled.

Tingo (origin: Easter Island) – To take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by asking to borrow them.

Neko-neko (origin: Indonesian) – One who has a creative idea which only makes things worse.

Koro (origin: Japanese) – The hysterical belief that one’s penis is shrinking into one’s body.

Iktsuarpok (origin: Inuit) – To go outside often to see if someone is coming.

Ilunga, (origin: Congo) – Someone who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.

Seigneur-terrasse (origin: French) – A person who spends much time but little money in a cafe (literally: a terrace lord).

Torschlusspanik (origin: German) – The fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older (literally: gate-closing panic; often applied to women worried about being too old to have children.)

Pana po’o (origin: Hawaiian) – To scratch your head in order to remember something.

Schadenfreude (origin: German) – The feeling of malicious pleasure we get when misfortune comes to someone else.

Schlimazl (origin: Yiddish) – Inept and lazy fool.

The reviews for the book, The Meaning of Tingo, seem mixed. There are a lot of people saying it’s inaccurate which is a disappointment to me. Hopefully the author will make corrections and publish a new version.

Now I know some of you are bilingual and multilingual. Do you have any fun words to share with us?

Here are a few I know from Spanish:

Meriendar – To have a light bite to eat.

Pasearse – To take a leisurely stroll.

Sinverg├╝enza – One without shame.

“-ito” or “-ita” can be added to many words to make it mean “a little bit”. For example. The word sick is “enfermo”. To say someone is a little sick, you would say they are “enfermito”. This can also be added on to someone’s name to show affection. Our son Nick is often called “Nicolito” – little Nicolas.

Ok – now it’s your turn! I know among my readers I have some that speak Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, Inuit, Spanish, French, Hawaiian and Tagalog, to name a few! Who else is hiding and won’t you please come out and share! :)



Filed under books, culture