Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wish I'd said that

Yesterday I mentioned how much I like the word "splendid". So I chuckled this morning when I came across this article over at The Independent Online:
Everyone knows that Inuit-speaking races can call on 30-odd words for snow. Adam Jacot de Boinod first became entranced by language when he discovered 27 words for "moustache" in an Albanian dictionary - and another 27 for "eyebrows". A world of bushy machismo and stolid dignity sprang to life before his eyes. He began hanging out in second-hand bookshops, looking for foreign dictionaries and the tiny revelations contained therein. He made lists of his favourite "words with no equivalent in the English language" - like, say, tsuji-giri, a Japanese word from samurai days meaning, "to try out a new sword on a passer-by" (thanks a bunch, Toshiro), or the stoic German term Torschlusspanik, meaning "the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older".

His book is destined to be the Eats, Shoots & Leaves of the autumn . . . .

Click on the link for a long list of fun words and expressions. I'm going to go lock my front door (just in case there are any samurai with new swords lingering in the neighborhood) and get back to work on my romance novel.


Kristin said...

I studied Russian for several years, and what I always found perplexing was that they had no one word for "go." If you were walking, it was one word. If you were approaching something, it was another word. If you were going away from something, it was another word. Going by car was different than going by plane or going by boat.

Languages are cool!

Brenda Coulter said...

I, too, studied a little Russian. One of the things that always made me chuckle was the way Russians take everything so "personally". While an English-speaker might calmly remark, "It's raining," a Russian will say, "It's raining at me."

David Bridger said...

What a delightful idea for a book! :))

Thanks, Brenda. This is one for my Christmas wish list.

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that I've been experiencing Torschlusspanik since I turned 37.

Nice to have a word for it.