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They Have a Word for It!

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Friday, August 3, 2001, 3:05
_They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words
& Phrases_ by Howard Rheingold.

Anyone else read this?  It's not conlanging per se, and by
"untranslatable" he seems to mean "untranslatable in a single word."
It's more for a non-linguist's browsing pleasure (which is why, he says,
he doesn't give "funny symbol" IPA pronuniciations--a bit frustrating)
than anything else, and while he alludes to Sapir-Whorf he gives the
caveat that the book is for both entertainment and edification, sort of,
wouldn't it be nice if we had this word in English?  Well, we can by
using them...:-)

I've only flipped through a few of the entries and can't vouch for their
accuracy or anything (except maybe the Korean ones, but here are a few
entries and their brief definitions (each entry has about a page or so
describing the cultural context, possible adapted uses, etc.):

hakamaroo: outrageously aggressive borrowing behavior (Pascuense, Easter

altjiranga mitjina (Aranda): the timeless dimension of dreams

fucha (Polish): using company time for your own ends

ta (Chinese): to understand things and thus take them lightly (and no,
he doesn't give any sort of tone)

The book does have a bibliography which I plan to look into someday when
there's time.  It's really neat, though; I like it not only for the
random trivia factor, but for lexicon-creation inspiration (being one of
those weirdoes who really loves creating words for a conlang).



John Cowan <cowan@...>
Tristan Alexander McLeay <zsau@...>
Muke Tever <alrivera@...>