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Tingo time again

About two years ago, I came across a British newspaper article on a book by a former BBC researcher exploring the breadth and often intriguing nature of about foreign words and phrases. I wrote about some of the words I enjoyed. The book wasn’t available in the U.S. then but I recently came across the predecessor to it, The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

Reading it over the weekend, once again certain words and phrases intrigued and entertained me. Some have questioned the accuracy of de Boinod’s work. Still, the book is a read in which certain words and phrases speak to you for whatever reason. Thus, I thought I’d follow up the old post with a few of my favorites from this work, which range from the highly specific to ones you figure you could well have used at some point.

scheissenbedauern (German) — the disappointment one feels when something turns out not nearly as badly as one had hoped (literally, “shit regret”).

o ka la nokonoko (Hawaiian) — a day spent in nervous anticipation of a coughing fit.

neulo taas niin saat oluen (Finnish) — knit again, so that you will get a beer.

scrostarsi (Italian) — to remove oneself as if one were a scab (leaving because your presence isn’t desired).

přesezený (Czech) — being stiff from sitting in the same position too long.

umudrovat se (Czech) — to philosophize oneself into the madhouse.

bakwe (Kapampangan, Philippines) — to smoke a cigarette with the lit end in one’s mouth.

sgriob (Scottish Gaelic) — the itchiness the overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey.

nakhur (Persian) — a camel that will not give milk until her nostrils are tickled.

safin (Persian) — a horse standing on three legs and touching the groud with the tip of its fourth hoof.

backpfeifengesicht (German) — a face that cries out for a fist in it.

And who among us hasn’t encountered a backpfeifengesicht but, untiil now, lacked the word for it?


tingo (Pascuense, Easter Island) — to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them.

Adam Jacot de Boinod, The Meaning of Tingo

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1 comment to Tingo time again

  • Tim I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for taking time to compile it. Me telling you any thing about books is like the old saying about teaching your grandmother how to blow eggs … but you do know that you can order books directly from Amazon UK don't you? I did that on an early Harry Potter when the issue came out there early (yeah and it was early by about a day when it came right down to it) But the version had the "English spellings" so it was fun for that reason as well. enough. enjoyed … Glenn