Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grief Bacon

Back in May, I brought up a quirk of the English language: its ability to basically kidnap foreign words and press-gang them into service as English words. Words are brazenly stolen from other languages and made into English all the time. If we have no word to describe something or someone, but some other language does, well, congratulations, foreign word. You're English now.

Today, per the suggestive influence of Mental Floss, we're compiling lists of words with no English equivalent. We'll start with their list. Then we'll add this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and oh my word this one.

Some highlights from the lists:

Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
To scratch your head to remember something you forgot.

Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
To go outside to see if anyone is coming.

Ilunga (Tshiluba, Southwest Congo)
Someone who will forgive an abuse the first time, tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.

Ya’aburnee (Arabic)
Translates as 'you bury me', this is telling someone you hope you'll die before them because of how hard it would be to go on living without them.

Tingo (Pascuense, Easter Island)
The act of removing everything you want from someone's house by slowly borrowing all of it.

Nylentik (Indonesian)
To flick someone with the middle finger on the ear.

Biritululo (Kiriwani, Papua New Guinea)
To settle a dispute by comparing the sizes of one's yams.

Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from overeating due to emotional problems. Translates as 'grief bacon'.

Koro (Japanese)
A man's fanatical fear that his penis is receding into his body and here is a link that'll tell you all about it if you don't believe me.

Taarradhin (Arabic)
To solve a problem in such a way that nobody loses face. Not the same as a compromise.

Guanxi (Mandarin Chinese)
A kind of informal social currency. Do things for others, you gain guanxi. Ask for things to be done for you, you spend guanxi.

Igunaujannguaq (Inuit)
A game that translates as 'frozen walrus carcass' in which a person is passed around overhead and tries to remain stiff throughout.

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