The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World

Front Cover
Penguin, Feb 27, 2007 - Humor - 209 pages
10 Reviews
A divine gift for the word-obsessed—a deliciously eccentric world tour of words that have no English equivalent

The countless language freaks who’ve worn out their copies of Eats, Shoots and Leaveswill find inexhaustible distraction in The Meaning of Tingo. Where else will they discover that Bolivians have a word that means “I was rather too drunk last night and it’s all their fault”? As for tingo, on Easter Island it means “to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them.” Organized by themes such as food, the human body, and sex and love, this irresistible book combs through more than 254 languages in search of those gorgeous oddities that have no direct English counterpart—words so strange and apt that if they didn’t exist, they would have to be invented.

Highlights from The Meaning of Tingo:
mencomet(Indonesian): stealing things of small value such as food or drinks, partly for fun
scheissbedauern(German): the disappointment one feels when something turns out not nearly as badly as one had hoped
mono-no-aware(Japanese): appreciating the sadness of existence
mahj(Persian): looking beautiful after disease
plimpplamppletteren(Dutch): the skimming of a flat stone as many times as possible across the surface of the water
koshatnik(Russian): a dealer in stolen cats
ava(Tahitian): wife (but also means whisky)

  

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Review: The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World

User Review  - Wythe Marschall - Goodreads

Unreadable. Such a good idea; so poorly executed. The book is a series of meaningless, randomly ordered lists. C'est la vie, cela écrit. You can often invent the most fabulous idea only to fail later, in research, in boldness, in the poetry of your prose. I commend the originary thought, at least. Read full review

Review: The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World

User Review  - Cj - Goodreads

Oy, the joys of the untranslatable translated! Or perhaps it isn't words so much that are beyond explanation, but the concepts and culture they encoil. Without words, we haven't got the receptacles ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Meeting and Greeting
From Top to Toe
Movers and Shakers
Getting Around
It Takes All Sorts
Falling in Love
The Family Circle
Clocking On
Below Par
From Cradle to Grave
Otherworldly
All Creatures Great and Small
Whatever the Weather
Hearing Things
Seeing Things
Number Crunching

Time Off
Eating and Drinking
Whats in a Name?
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Adam Jacot de Boinod first developed his passion for foreign words while doing research for the BBC program Q1. In the course of compiling this book, he consulted some 220 dictionaries, 150 Web sites, and numerous books on language.

Bibliographic information