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
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
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
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
thlasi (Rynnan): a large squirrel-like being with dragon wings
saar (Shirra): the secondary brain of a Thrinn; the center of shared
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
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