December 8, 2005

Festive Season Conversation Assistance

The English language is renowned for - if nothing else - being a hussy when it comes to appropriating words from other languages.

In his new book, Adam Jacot de Boinod, raises the curtains to display the dazzling array of words that we should have stolen from other languages, but didn’t.

However, it’s not too late: a small platter of words from this most excellent book, The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World, to assist with your festive season social chatter. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.

Narachastra prayoga (Sanskrit) – men who worship their own sex organ

Koro (Japanese) – the hysterical belief that one’s penis is shrinking into one’s body

Zakilpistola (Basque) – a sufferer from premature ejaculation (literally, pistol prick)

Menggernumut (Indonesian) – to approach somebody quietly in the night for sex

Neko-necko (Indonesian) – one who has a creative idea that only makes things worse

Wamadat (Persian) – the intense head of a sultry night

Torschlusspanik (German) – the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older

Termangu-mangu (Indonesian) – sad and not sure what to do

Mukamuka (Japanese) – so angry one feels like throwing up

Sekaseka (Zambian) – to laugh without reason

Nedovtipa (Czech) – one who finds it difficult to take a hint

Aka’aka’a (Hawaiian) – skin peeling or falling off after either sunburn or heavy drinking

Chakwair (Zimbabwe) – walking through a muddy place making a squelching sound

Shwutair (Zimbabwe) – walking naked

Tabvuk (Zimbabwe) – walking with such thin thighs that you seem to be jumping like a grasshopper

Tingo (Pascuense) – to borrow things from a friend’s house, one by one, until there’s nothing left

Egkoniomai (Ancient Greek) – to sprinkle sand over oneself

I can't tell you how many times in my life that I needed "egkoniomai" in my vocabulary, or how often I wish I'd had "neko-necko" at the tip of my tongue, and with which to flatter any number of work associates.

But really, picking any favorites is too difficult.


  1. An excellent post. I thought Koro would've come in handy to describe what George Costanza felt after swimming. IMO necko-necko could describe the liberal agenda, but I don't want to appear like a nedovtipa & will not talk politics on someone else's blog ;-)

  2. "Narachastra prayoga (Sanskrit) – men who worship their own sex organ"

    Doesn't that describe ALL men? :-)

  3. Zfish - yeeerrrrs, but until now, you had no way of throwing that into the conversation without sounding like, err, a bit of a wanker; now you will sound cultured and deep.

    Cube - my admiration for your examples; yes indeed, that is the exact word George needed in that episode!

  4. Ouch!

    There are men here you know. LOLZ!

    Anyway, Nice post there Caz. I'll try getting some of MY language in here somewhere.

  5. Mukamuka - I've been there and beyond. What is it called when you are so angry you actually do throw up? LOL

    I was also once so angry I walked into a cupboard and cut above my eye. I've got a little scar there now, but it was fun going to the local shops and telling them I ran into a cupboard. :)

    Amazing how many people thought I'd been smacked out and was covering for someone lolol!

    Nedovtipa - had friends like this in the past. Hard work or what?

  6. I'm rather fond of "tingo", but am hard pushed to apply it; perhpaps that situation is only an obvious problem on Easter Island, but darn it, I want to use it here!

  7. Nilk - your blog has vanished; hope you didn't accidentally hit the delete key!?

    Let us know that you're okay, out there in the blogosphere.

  8. I'm still here, Caz. :)

    Not sure what happened to the blog. I've just republished the lot.

  9. Thanks for the concern, too. :)

    Warm fuzzies at you.

    oh, and if you remember to do so in the next week or so, could you pls email me? ta

  10. I hate getting Koro because it always interferes with my menggernumut.

  11. captain - for some reason, I have no difficulty imagining this to be true.