Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lost in translation

Adam Jacot de Boinod's book 'The Meaning Of Tingo' sounds fascinating - a survey of foreign words which have no exact equivalent in English.

For someone who thoroughly enjoyed Melvin Bragg's 'The Adventure Of English', and in particular the etymological titbits and anecdotes, it could well be right up my street. Albanians have 27 words for "moustache"! The Japanese have a word for "a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front"! German has a word for "the excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating"!

My favourite words:

Plimpplampplettere (Dutch) - skimming stones (onomatopoeic genius!)

Backpfeifengesicht (German) - "a face that cries out for a fist in it" (I can think of many, many Backpfeifengesichte...)

Koshatnik (Russian) - "a dealer of stolen cats"

(Thanks to J for the link.)

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