“Selfie”, “YOLO”, “Swag”, “Belieber”: Yes, ladies and gentlemen…these are some of the words that currently exist in the English language. Representative of the times? Unfortunately. Believe me, I’m not proud to have “Selfie” in my vocabulary, but it is interesting to see how the words we use are influenced by the location we’re in. Mamihlapinatapei, for example, is the Yagan word for “a wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.” WHY DOESN’T THIS BEAUTIFUL WORD EXIST IN ENGLISH?
Who knows – but in the meantime, check out the following list of words stemming from languages all around the world that English doesn’t have a one-word equivalent to:
1. Slampadato (Italian): Someone addicted to UV tanning beds.
2. Tartle (Scottish)– The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.
3. Kummerspeck (German): Excess weight that is gained from emotional overeating.
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4. Schaedenfreude (German): The feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune.
5. Bakku-shan (Japanese): The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.
6. Kaapshljmurslis (Latvian): A person who is cramped while riding public transportation.
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7. Tingo (Pascuense – Easter Island): The act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.
8. Papakata (Cook Islands Maori): – To have one leg shorter than the other.
9. Gattara (Italian): A woman, often old and lonely, who devotes herself to stray cats.
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10. Prozvonit (Czech): To call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back allowing the caller not to spend money on minutes.
11. Tayus (Indonesian): A joke told so poorly and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.
12. Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut.
13. Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist.
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Why can’t useful words actually exist in the English language? I know of some backpfeifengesichts that urgently need to be taught a lesson.