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And Now for Something Completely Different...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I am a lover of language and languages, from the time I was very young and listened to the sound of my Oma speaking German with my father. It amazed me to hear my dad speaking another language. I wanted, needed to learn. So I did. And now I am fluent too. I can also get by with Spanish and French. While I was doing my undergraduate degree, I took a course in linguistic anthropology as an elective and was fascinated. I loved that course and still remember specific lectures. The professor was amazing. If I didn’t end up going the geographical route, I would surely have stuck with anthropology.

While scanning through Arts & Letters Daily, I came across this article, from The Independent. We all know that the Inuit have numerous words for snow, but there are strange and amazing words for items we, in the English speaking world, would never have imagined. So here I am selecting a few for all of you, for your enjoyment.

Chloe; I think you should use this word today. From Portuguese FUCHA, meaning to use company time and resources for one's own purposes.

Michelle; I know you do this, because your photos are among the best I have seen. From Chinese QIANG JINGTOU, meaning the fight by a cameraman to get a better vantage point.

Lois; This one’s for you. Maybe your kids can try it out. From Brazilian Portuguese GRILAGEM, meaning the practice of putting a live cricket into a box of newly faked documents, until the insect's excrement makes the paper look convincingly old.

Heidi; Do we share this trait? (sorry, I don't mean to embarrass you...). From Indonesian LATAH, the uncontrollable habit of saying embarrassing things.

Jase; Since awhile ago you said that you could. From Indonesia, DESUS, the quiet, smooth sound of somebody farting but not very loudly.

MomyBlogR; I think this word would apply to us if we were together. From Japanese KUSUKUSU, the suppressed giggling and tittering of a group of women.

Vani; This might actually be useful because soon you’ll have three. From Samoan. FAAMITI , to make a squeaking noise by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or a child.

Romani; Think of this while you’re walking through Hooterville. From Malay, KERTEK, the sound of dry leaves or twigs being trodden underfoot.

BerlinBound; Because I’m sure you’re doing this with your big move this week. From Hawaiian, PANA PO'O, to scratch your head in order to help you to remember something you've forgotten.

Christina; Don’t let this happen to you from those yoga pants. From Tulu Indian, KARELU, the mark left on the skin by wearing anything tight.

Marel; As your young ones are starting to talk. From Chinese, YUYIN, the remnants of sound that stay in the ears of the hearer.

Angel; Beware what you think you see. From Japanese, BAKKU-SHAN, a girl who looks as though she might be pretty when seen from behind, but isn't when seen from the front.

Ruthie; Because you assisted your mom, and you are keeping the light. From Danish, FYRASSISTENT, an assistant lighthouse keeper.

Dr. Deb; Because I think you could co-ordinate pretty much anything. From Italian, CAPOCLAQUE, someone who co-ordinates a group of clappers.

Sarah; Please tell me you’re not. From Russian, KOSHATNIK, a dealer in stolen cats.

MissB; Tell me you haven’t done this to your nice friend in the video. From the Pascuense language, Easter Island, TINGO, borrowing things from a friend's house, one by one, until he has nothing left.

RiskyBiz; Do you do this with your co-workers when the peckerhead boss is around? From Hawaiian, 'A'AMA, someone who speaks rapidly, hiding their meaning from one person while communicating it to another.

Nancy; Because you’re on the west coast, and stereotypically so many do, never feel the pressure to do this. From Chinese, ZHENGRONG, to improve one's looks by plastic surgery.

Would you like one too? My sincere apologies for leaving anyone out. If so, it was completely unintended, and the babe is waking.

(But for those of you visiting, but not commenting, are you a BUZ-BAZ ?)

  1. Blogger christina said:

    Cathy - OUCH! That's a great one! :-) Amazing how some languages manage to cram so much meaning into a single word.

    P.S. I majored in anthropology (and just look where it got me!) and also took a lot of linguistics course - so interesting.

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Of course, I was just joking:) I know you must look fabulous in those yoga pants, and your chic sleet outfit:) You have a great day, despite the weather.

    One more thing we have in common! Anthropology has served you well; you have knowledge to share with your children and friends. A world view. Never wasted.

  1. Blogger Mise en Place said:

    I LOVE my word, what a great post. Honey is fluent in Italian. It was accutally his first langusge. I've begged him to teach me so I could teach the kids, but he has NO patients. I've tried to learn on my own but it's HARD, lol!

    Have a great day. BTW, I'm still here, we didn't make it to OZ! :)

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Oh, you should go for it; sign up for a nightclass and get started and then maybe the hubbie will join in with some help. My father had no patience either, so I tool German in school and then we would have a conversation once I was getting better and better.

    Glad you didn't need to use your rubie slippers.

  1. Blogger JM said:

    I have the Latah habit.
    And I've seen many Bakku-Shan many times.
    When I went abroad for medical school in Asia, some of the gay people there would go to extremes to look like girls. From behind, they had the walk down pat. Even their hair and tweezed eyebrows, powdered high cheek bones could mask their testosterone.
    However, the tell-tale sign? The square shape of their hands and although swan-like, the bulge in their neck!

  1. Blogger Dr. Deb said:

    I love words too, and their origins. I really enjoyed this post. My favorite one the one you used for Jase's. DESUS. So totally fun!


    BTW: My word verification almost spelled ninjas

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    See, I somehow knew you would know this. Then I guess I chose your word well!

    From now on, may you use the word DESUS; perhaps to your husband; oh Jesus, did you let a Desus?!...
    Secret words; like the word my sister and I made up for "panties are stuck in butt" PASIB; we still use it to this day.

  1. Blogger Lois Lane said:

    Haha! I will find a way to use GRILAGEM 100 times today.
    Lois Lane

  1. Blogger Jase said:

    Yes, obviously used like this:

    "Desus Christ, that smells bad!"

    On that note I will be including an article in my blog about farts. On a plane recently I read a piece in the in-flight magazine that said that the pressure in a plane is equivalent to being at an altitude of 5000 feet and that this meant that abdominal gases are likely to expand potentially leading to some discomfort. It went on to say that foods likely to cause a lot of gas should be avoided the day before flying and I thought that Olympian level ariel farting was one of those little pleasures that frequent flyers just keep to themselves.

  1. Blogger Tee/Tracy said:

    I really enjoyed this post. We have a lot in common. I absolutly love language more than almost anything else. I love it so much I want to just roll in it. LOL.

    I love that the word for something in another language can just seem more "right" than the one we know in English - or be a word we don't even have at all!

    My favorite was KUSUKUSU ... What a perfect word for what it described.

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    gotta see pictures of that...

    oh, man, you made me laugh out loud...anxiously awaiting your fart post; i guess i chose your word wisely.

    oh dear, i knew i forgot someone important. i should have PANA PO'O Hawaiian; To scratch your head in order to help you to remember something you've forgotten. for you.

  1. Blogger x said:

    thank you! from now on FUCHA is my middle name! xxxxxx

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    chloe fucha; sounds exotic.
    perhaps you had a better day today?

  1. Blogger Foxy said:

    hmm, so FAAMITI is almost like whisteling- very useful in raising 3 kids! yes,...i can see it now- all 3 going crazy and being loud and then me, not taking it anymore and then FAAMITI!!! they all shut up...haha. thanks!

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    But first you'll have to figure out just how exactly you do it!:)

  1. Blogger missbhavens said:

    Cathy these are all fabulous! What a terrific post--so much fun!

    (I'm embarassed to say that all my friends used to be in danger of my tingo-ing them out of house and home...but I'm reformed now)

  1. Blogger Heidi said:

    Cathy..too funny...instead of "saying embarrassing things",
    I think I'm the " doer" of embarrasing things..Does that make sense? I call them Maxx Moments, long story...but we all have them.

  1. Blogger marellecone said:

    Thanks, Cathy. I've been thinking today on "the sound that remains in the ears of the hearer." Sorry--I'm late commenting. I wish I could learn more on this. As the train passes by, even now, I try to think of the sounds that remain. It is definitely a motivator to make sure the kids are hearing the right thing in word and tone. As what will be the last thing that remains? I'm trying to get inspired here. So, thanks. And, take care. Great post! :)

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