Monday, 10 June 2013


Our vocabulary sometimes lacks the word with right nuance. I was sent a lot of words by Peter Lederer from other languages which fill the gap. I’ve included the most poignant of these and some from other sources, the most telling from “The Meaning of Liff” written by the comic geniuses Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. It all rather reminds me of Brueghel’s Tower of Babel.

Enjoy. I think they’re “lagom”.

1. Tartle (Scots)
That panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember.

2. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
That special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

3. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.

4. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
You bite into a piece of piping hot pizza, then open your mouth tilt your head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. It means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

5. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don't want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

6. Gigil (Filipino)
The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute.

7. Lagom (Swedish)
This slippery word means something like, “not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

8. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

9. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
 It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

10. Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
The word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

11. Kaelling (Danish)
A mother who stands in a supermarket or wherever cursing at her children.

12. Boketto (Japanese)
The act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking.

13.  Bilita Mpash (Bantu)
An amazing dream. Not just a "good" dream; the opposite of a nightmare.

14. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
Impractical dreamer with no business sense.

15. Dungeness (The Meaning of Liff)
The feeling the handles of an overloaded supermarket bag are getting longer and longer.

16. Amersham (ibid)
A sneeze that tickles but never comes

17. Nottage (Ibid)
The name for things you have a burning need for just after you’ve thrown them away.

18. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
When your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing." Monty Pythonesque!

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