Category Archives: english


On I found an article for 38 wonderful words in other languages that should be incorporated into English. I am posting the list here, with my own notes and comments on how I would use them (once I figure out how they are pronounced).

Italics are direct quotes from

~Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

I am not sure about the weight gain part, but I am all for grief bacon. Do the Germans have a word for grief chocolate? Or grief coffee? Cheese?

~Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

This could be a part of my vocabulary at least three times a day. Imagine the economy of words!

~Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

Tanya goes through this any time she is talking to people. She has to meet you at least twenty times before she remembers your name, even if you happen to be named John or Mary.

~Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures 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 to.

So there *is* a word for this…

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

Very descriptive. I will make a note of this for future reference should I ever have sudden (or not so sudden) violent urges.

~Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

Yes. I have a different word for this. Punctuality. If more people practiced this word I would not have to poke my head out the door like a gopher every few seconds. One of these times I expect someone to be standing right outside with one of those foam bats.

~Pelinti (Bull, Ghana)
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making “aaaarrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

I personally make a different noise when said thing happens, but the sentiment is there. Also, as the list goes on, I feel like other languages are very specific with their words and wonder why English is so generic.

~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.

That is everything, all the time. I have such a fear of inconveniencing others I think it counts as an actual phobia of sorts.

~Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? That Indonesians have a word for it.

Huh… well then.

To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

You mean whistling?

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

I don’t believe I have ever had this urge, but should I ever get it, I will be prepared to explain it in Filipino.

~Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

I get this sensation each time I see a spider, ant, fly, moth, you get the idea… In fact, just thinking of these things brings on all sorts of shivery feelings.

~Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

I have only ever experienced one of these teeth chattering causes, but unfortunately this winter is so ridiculously hot so far that I don’t think I can use my new word. Obviously someone needs to enrage me so I may experience its second definition.

~Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers – it means to jump out and say boo.

Do they have one for younger brothers? Because then I could teach it to my daughter. Maybe I can improvise.

~Fremdschamen (German): Myotahapea (Finnish)
The kinder, gentler cousins of Schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to “vicarious embarrassment.”

This is what my friends feel for me on a daily basis… vicarious embarrassment. I do enough clumsy, silly, illogical things each day to where all of my friends could live off of my embarrassment for the rest of their lives, never having to experience their own.

~Lagom (Swedish)
Maybe Goldilocks was Swedish? This slippery little word is hard to define, but means something like, “Not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

That is the way I feel every morning when I take my first sip of coffee.

~Palegg (Norwegian)
Sandwich Artists unite! The Norwegians have a non-specific descriptor for anything – ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it – you might consider putting into a sandwich .

I need to go to Norway. And try a sandwich with all of the above.

~Layogenic (Tagalog)
Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet… from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means. 

You mean they have a word to describe my entire life? I love it!

~Bakku-shan (Japanese)
Or there’s this Japanese term, which describes the experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. 

I prefer to be looked at sideways, personally. Right side if possible.

~Seigneur-terraces (French)
Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money. 

So, me in a nutshell, on a good day.

~Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me. 

I think this is every parent for their child. I hope.

~Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten. 

Does it count if you just twirl your hair unconsciously while staring at the ceiling?

~Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you. 

And everyone else in Southern California. If you are glowing orange, you are addicted to tanning salons. Just saying.

~Zeg (Georgian)
It means “the day after tomorrow.” OK, we do have “overmorrow” in English, but when was the last time someone used that?

Actually, several languages have that notion. English speakers just don’t use it, despite it’s obvious usefulness. Think of how much easier you could make plans.

~Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
Leave it to the Brazilians to come up with a word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

I wouldn’t know.

~Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love. 

That went well.

~Kaelling (Danish)
You know that woman who stands on her doorstep (or in line at the supermarket, or the park, or in a restaurant) cursing at her children? The Danes know her, too. 

I think everyone knows her. And shaking their heads.

~Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name. 

I thought it was called spacing out. But then again, that is two words.

~L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
Literally, stairwell wit – a too late retort though of only after departure. 

Hindsight is 20/20. And easier to pronounce.

~Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trent among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shit tail outside of his trousers. 

Men over 40 do this as well. Obviously they need a new word.

~Packesel (German)
The packesel is the person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip. Literally, a burro. 

You generally can find this man with his family, carrying his wife’s and his children’s things. They refer to him as Hubby or Daddy.

~Hygge (Danish)
Denmark’s mantra, hygge is the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends. 

I need to immediately board a plane for Denmark. And while there make friends in order to partake in this.

~Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)
The result of attempting to revive un unworkable relationship. Translates to “reheated cabbage.” 

Well when you put it that way… no wonder it keeps failing.

~Bilita Mpash (Bantu)
An amazing dream. Not just a “good” dream; the opposite of a nightmare. 

When I am done making friends in Denmark I need to fly to Africa and take a nap.

~Litost (Czech)
Milan Kundera describes the emotion as “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.”

Very Camus like. Does Kundera describe what one must do when coming to this realization?

~Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. 

I guess this term is reserved for the son-in-law.

~Schlemiel and schlimazel (Yiddish)
Someone prone to bad luck. Yiddish distinguishes between the schlemiel and schlimazel, whose fates would probably be grouped under those of the klutz in other languages. The schlemiel is the traditional maladroit, who spills his coffee; the schlimazel is the one on whom it’s spilled. 

What happens when I spill my coffee on myself? Because I do it all the time, and I feel if this is the case, I should have my own word.

P.S. The picture seems to have nothing to do with this post, but who doesn’t want to see cute kittens sleeping? I think there should be word for “a sleeping small furry creature.” If there already is one, please let me know immediately.


Silly Puns

My friend just posted this ridiculously silly thing on Facebook. “Puns that only English people will understand.” Now, I have to argue that non English people might understand them as well. I just don’t think they would find these things funny for the most part. I am still giggling.

Here are some of my favorites:

~What would you find in Charles Dickens’ kitchen?
The best of thymes, the worst of thymes.
~What is the difference between a cat and a comma?
Cat: Claws at the end of paws.
Comma: Pause at the end of clause.
~Why is John Milton terrible to invite to game nights?
Because whenever he is around there is a pair of dice lost.
~What happened when Past, Present and Future walked into a bar?
It was tense.
~Why are apostrophes terrible to date?
They are too possessive.
~How did Charlotte Bronte make it easier for everyone to breathe?
She created Eyre.
~Which dinosaur knows a lot of synonyms?
The Thesaurus.
~Why do words, phrases and punctuation keep ending up in court?
To be sentenced.
~What happened when the verb asked the noun to conjugate?
It declined.
~What makes Civil Disobedience such a great essay?
Thoreau editing.
~How does Voltaire like his apples?
~Why did Shakespeare only write in pen?
Pencils confused him. 2B or not 2B?
~How do you make a copyeditor vomit?
Show her a typo. It’ll make her [sic].
~What do you call a treehouse that kids can only play in when their parents are around?
P. G. Woodhouse.
~Why do writers constantly feel cold?
Because they are constantly surrounded by drafts.
~What is the best way to get an English major in the mood?

Who Did You Ask?

I am currently writing a paper on the enregisterment of Internet language as deviating from Standard English, creating its own dialect, and even perhaps a pidgin. I am very excited about how it turned out, and I found some great research on the topic. But I also found a lot of biased research, and I am curious how no one figured out the faulty assumption under which they were operating.
A lot of the research of how texting and social networking has affected the written word nationwide was based on self analysis on the part of the researchers. The researchers are well educated people who typically speak and write in complete sentences. Does anyone see a problem here? It was no surprise that they found little to no problems when analyzing their own texts. For instance, Lauren Squires wrote an amazing article, “Enregistering Internet Language.” However, she bases a large part of her conclusion on her analysis of her own IM conversations. I can only assume that someone who writes as well as she does is not engaging in sub par language use.
For example, in my informal speech such as texts, or chat conversations, I tend to speak in complete sentences. I am aware I use ellipses a lot, but even in between all the dots I form coherent thoughts. For those of you who know me, you are aware that I end most texts with “…” This does not mean anything is to follow. No, I have ended the sentence there. I just, for whatever reason, trail off with a series of dots instead of a period. I also use “…” instead of commas. Again, for no particular reason. I like to think that that is my way of mimicking actual speech in which my voice slightly trails off as opposed to an abrupt stop. Who knows.
Regardless, I do not abbreviate words unnecessarily, do not use “u” instead of “you,” and I most certainly do not combine numbers and letters as if playing bingo with someone over the phone. However, other people do just that. So, if I were to conduct some sort of research on texting trends, I would in no way assume that analyzing my own would be indicative of the population at large.
In fact, one of my friends who teaches English constantly complains of how his students continuously insert these lovely texting habits into formal papers. He was tempted to fail a student just last semester (quarter?) for writing “u,” “b4” and other such nonsense into her final paper.
So when all these articles are telling me that the Internet and texting has not overall changed the way in which people communicate, I am a little suspicious. Especially when the researchers are telling me their sample group is themselves and ten of their closest friends, who also just happen to be well educated and coherent speakers of the English language. Hrm…