Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Meaning of Tingo, Adam Jacot de Boinod

Check out the website for this delightful little book: The Meaning of Tingo. I read an excerpt from it that was published in the March issue of Smithsonian Magazine on "The Last Page" of the magazine, a little column that is, in fact, on the last page.

It is difficult to explain without revealing the fun linguistic oddities that Monsieur Jacot de Boinod shares, but one must hear a few of these to get the picture of this collection. Essentially, think of all the unique emotions, physicalities, weather anomalies, expressions, etc. that we experience in life for which we have no words to encapsulate them accurately. Imagine being able to use ONE WORD to express any of the following:

the gap between each finger and toe
the excess weight one gains from emotion-related overeating
face that cries out for a fist in it
looking beautiful after a disease

to walk along in the water searching for something with your feet
to walk in windy weather for fun
the swinging of long earrings or the swishing of a dress as one walks

to be swallowed like a postman's sock (hopelessly in love)
to sever one's intestines (broken heart)

a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils have been tickled
to exchange wives for a few days only
to borrow things from a friend's house, one by one, until there's nothing left

To find out the words for these expressions, as well as the languages of origin, you'll just have to buy the book.

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