Tag Archives: words

Thirteen Words

…beautiful and without a 1 to 1 translation in English.

1. Waldeinsamkeit (German): the feeling of being alone in the woods

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

3. Taarradhin (Arabic): a way of resolving a problem without anyone losing face (not the same as our concept of a compromise – everyone wins)

4. Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery

5. Esprit de l’escalier (French): a witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs…

6. Meraki (Greek): doing something with soul, creativity, or love

7. Yoko meshi (Japanese): literally ‘a meal eaten sideways’, referring to the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language:

8. Duende (Spanish): a climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art, which might be fulfilled in flamenco dancing, or bull-fighting, etc.

9. Guanxi (Mandarin): in traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by  giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favour, but you can also use up your guanxi by asking for a favour to be repaid.

10. Pochemuchka (Russian): a person who asks a lot of questions

11. Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): to borrow objects one by one from a neighbour’s house until there is nothing left

12. Radioukacz (Polish): a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain

13. Selathirupavar (Tamil): a word used to define a certain type of absence without official leave in face of duty

And one more to make 14:

The Samoan word for cowardice is peamoku – or unfinished tattoo.

(via constantwanderlust: thehermitage)

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Language in Flux

“Not until the 17th century did people begin thinking that the language needed to be codified, and the details of who would do that and how have yet to be resolved. Should it be accomplished through a government-sponsored academy, an officially sanctioned dictionary, or what? These and other means were attempted, but meanwhile ordinary folks, dang them, kept right on talking and writing however they wanted, inventing words, using contractions and so on.”

NY Times article reviewing ‘The Lexicographer’s Dilemma‘ by Jack Lynch