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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Talkin' Loud, Sayin' Nothin'

A few days ago The Week published a list of foreign words for which there is no English equivalent. There so many words in English that I already don't know and now this aggregate news source is suggesting that we make fourteen additions? Pish! I'll be the judge of that.




1. Shemomedjamo - Georgian, Republic of Georgia

Literal translation, "I accidentally ate the whole thing." Wait, do you mean, "I was full, but I kept eating anyway?" Oh, and next you'll tell me you accidentally had sex with someone else's boyfriend after a night of accidentally ingesting cocaine.
Verdict: As the examples above show, this word is a little to generous too sorority girls. I vote no. 

2. Pelinti - Buli, Ghana

This means "to move hot food around in your mouth" like when you bite into a Pop Tart and burn several papery layers of skin off the roof of your mouth.
Verdict: Thanks but no thanks. Pop Tarts are gross.

3. Layogenic - Tagalog, Philippines

A layogenic is a person who appears attractive from a distance but not up close. You need two people to have this situation: the looker and the lookee. And NOBODY wants to be either one of those people.
Verdict: English needs this word immediately!

4. Rhwe - Tsonga, South Africa

"To sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked." Not really a word so much as a way of life.
Verdict: This would make AA meeting a lot shorter. We need this word. 

5. Zeg - Georgian, Republic of Georgia

"The day after tomorrow." Planning is part of being organized and being organized is awesome.
Verdict: We need this word as well as one for "two doors down." Thanks.


6. Pålegg - Norwegian, Norway

So you have some ham but then you decide to put that ham on bread. Now it's pålegg. Same holds true for jam, potato chips, french fries, leftover Chinese Food, a bottle rocket, cat claws, a baby.... That's right, anything you feel the need to eat atop a piece of bread is pålegg.  
Verdict: Sold.

7. Lagom - Swedish, Sweden

Wikipedia calls this "enough, sufficient, adequate, just right" or "in moderation," "in balance," "optimal," and "suitable." Yet none of these words describe the act of going to IKEA or any of the items sold there.
Verdict: Nice try, Sweden. I guess taking over the world will have to wait.




8. Tartle - Scots, Scotland

The split second just before you have to introduce someone and you realize you've forgotten their name.
Verdict: I don't want this word because I don't ever want it to happen again.

9. Koi No Yokan - Japanese, Japan

The sense that your're going to fall in love with someone you just met.
Verdict: I don't know about the UK or Australia, but in America we call this "bourbon." Pass.

10. Mamihlapinatapai - Yaghan, Tierra del Fuego

Two people are both wishing that the other would do something they both want, but neither of them really want to do it, and so they share a special look. The name of that special look?  Mamihlapinatapai.  
Verdict: No, but only because I'm slightly confused.

11. Fremdschämen - German, Germany; Myötähäpeä - Finnish, Finland

Both these words embody "vicarious embarrassment." Sort of like how you feel about this post.
Verdict: Nein. You are not embarrassed about this post! You love it as much as you love me, silly!

12. Cafune - Portuguese, Brazil)

Are you sitting in front of a cozy fire? Did you just make love to Larry from Three's Company? Is he now sipping brandy on your bearskin rug while wearing a short, brown, silk robe? Well, then now is the moment for cafune or "tenderly running your fingers through your lover's hair." 
Verdict: Over my dead body.

13. Greng-jai - Thai, Thailand

That feeling you get when you don't want someone to do something for you but only because it would be a hassle for them. I'm pretty sure every American is guaranteed by the constitution to everything with little to no effort, right? The whole sentiment greng-jai would be wasted here.
Verdict: Ask England. I mean, if you want to take care of it. 


14. Kaelling - Danish, Denmark

Noun, a woman who stands on her doorstep cursing at her children. Many of us call this lady "grandma" but kaelling is good, too.
Verdict: If it bugs the old biddy, I say go for it.

Images by Tamara Feijoo from the series I Have a Secret Plan to Conquer the World.


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