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Re: You have a word for it?

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Sunday, January 27, 2002, 5:20
On Fri, 25 Jan 2002 18:26:50 -0800, Elliott Belser <renyard@...>

>Ever picked up a book called 'They Have A Word For It?' This is where >I got Katzenjammer and Bol from, along with a lot of other great >words like Potlatch, 'to give away lavish gifts for the purpose of >rising in social rank' and L'espirit d'escaler, 'The state where you >have come up with a cutting retort to a wise-ass remark, long after >you have left the situtation where you were the butt of it.' I'd >like to know what cool untranslatable words are in your languages.
For a long time, I mainly designed languages for fictional non-human species. There were quite a few words that are untranslatable for trivial reasons (names of fictional animals, artifacts, and other such things). Then there are the words that don't have a concise English equivalent, but represent concepts that are potentially useful to humans. Here are some of the most interesting ones: chirikit (Chispa): literally "a dance ritual", but used metaphorically to mean "insects consumed as food". ji8ra3 (Zirien): to have a spiritually significant dream kai8si6 (Zirien): words distinguished only by tone kyu7 (Zirien): to communicate with a non-speaking animal ve5li3ne6 (Zirien): done for a good purpose, but having mixed good and evil consequences zaix8 (Zirien): to sit in one place watching the local wildlife tle!tkeq'rui (Nikta): in a state of spiritual harmony Gjarrda doesn't really have a lot of words for non-English concepts, but many of the words have a different emphasis: for instance, the word for "beautiful" really means "to evaluate as beautiful". My current language, Tirelhat, does have a few interesting words that don't map easily to English. Some of them are borrowed from Sarbleski or other languages that are no longer in use, but the words themselves are still useful. ghajxha: insulting term for a reckless person; specifically, one whose thoughtless actions annoy or endanger others. (From Sarbleski) ghaxh: a harmful collective delusion. lhekeghaxh: a harmful collective obsession with death, associated with the belief that death is unreal. shugh: deliberate garbage (as opposed to incidental garbage; for example, things like junk mail and "spam"). One important concept in both Gjarrda and Tirelhat is the word "vagh" (Gjarrda) / "foj" (Tirelhat). Roughly speaking, it means "against the will of the victim". For instance (using Gjarrda examples), "vaghdei" is "to trespass", "vaghrrav" is "to murder", and "vaghnirr" is "to rape". This is a concept that is easily expressible in English in specific instances, but not in the abstract. Just for fun, here are a few of those names of fictional animals and artifacts: treyat (Olaetian): a small furry round animal which lives in caves and has whiskers that point to hidden treasure twiminkadel (Olaetian): a small flat invisible furry animal cinyetjya (Olaetian): a substance made from a large number of very small black holes held together by magical forces kirrel (Nieskloz): a small dragon-like intelligent being ishling (Rynnan): a small winged cat kirnaith (Rynnan): a crystal which glows red in the presence of evil koshat (Rynnan): a double flute shaped like a boomerang (also used as a weapon) thlasi (Rynnan): a large squirrel-like being with dragon wings saar (Shirra): the secondary brain of a Thrinn; the center of shared memories tarik (Shirra): a herbivore with shell-like horns kairikieri (Chispa): a tongue-click, used by the Mizarian rat-people as the equivalent of a laugh. nan7 (Zirien): a type of mask for expressing interest in playing a game zi3li1 (Zirien): a cloth ribbon or armband symbolic of a particular philosophy -- languages of Azir------> ---<>--- hmiller (Herman Miller) "If all Printers were determin'd not to print any email password: thing till they were sure it would offend no body, \ "Subject: teamouse" / there would be very little printed." -Ben Franklin