Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Foreign Words with No English Equivalent"

There are some words from other languages that have entered the English lexicon because they’re very descriptive — and there’s no equivalent in our language.  Some examples of these include mensch(a Yiddish word meaning person of integrity; the sort of person other people look up to); kerfuffle (from the Scottish, meaningcommotion, disorder or agitation) and schadenfreude (a German word that signifies the pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune). 
Mental Floss recently featured a list of 14 “Wonderful Words with No English Equivalent.”  Here are my top eight favorites.  
1.      Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
It means "to move hot food around in your mouth” (like that pizza you tried to eat before it had time to cool off).
2.      Rhwe (Tsonga, South Africa)
There's actually a word for "to sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked."  Really!
3.      Zeg (Georgian)
It means "the day after tomorrow."
4.      Pålegg (Norwegian)
The Norwegians have a non-specific word for any ingredient — ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it — you might consider putting into a sandwich.
5.      Lagom (Swedish)
This means something like, "Not too much, and not too little, but just right."
6.      Tartle (Scots)
A word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember.
7.      Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.
8.      Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
The kinder, gentler cousins of schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to "vicarious embarrassment."

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