On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM, Laurie Price sent me this list of words with no English equivalents. She didn’t say where she got them but even if they’re lexical legends…well, read on:
1. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.
2. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
3. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.
4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
Yiddish for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.
5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.
6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
It means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.
7. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.
8. Gumusservi (Turkish)
Meteorologists can be poets in Turkey with words like this at their disposal. It means moonlight shining on water.
9. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.
10. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.
11. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.
12. Glas wen (Welsh)
A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.
13. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.
14. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance to give it a name.
15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.
Clearly Laurie’s list is almost mebee a poem:
Chattering teeth from rage
something crawling on your skin
addicted to the glow of tanning salons?
air head, with no business sense!
you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet
are you a person who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers?
scratch your head to help you remember
when it is shining on water
jump out and say boo
tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder
to fool them
suck air past the lips
to gain the attention of a dog or child
a blue smile
pretty from behind but not from the front
gazing vacantly into the distance
putting on grief bacon
For more of Laurie’s sensibility, especially wonderful photos – visit her blog