Suspend Your Disbelief

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Loss for words? Borrow some.


Image Credit: Flickr

A few weeks back, Michael sent me a pretty sweet list of “Words That Don’t Exist in English” from Matt Griswold’s blog. They include:

Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods.
Esprit de l’escalier (French): The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Literally translated: “the spirit of the staircase.”

Laced with Love has a round-up of words that don’t exist in English as well#151;some overlap, but one I particularly enjoyed was:

Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): To borrow objects one by one from a neighbour’s house until there is nothing left.

One Swedish word I’ve always enjoyed is “fika” which means to drink coffee (or tea, juice, or milk) and eat something sweet (cookies, biscuits, or buns). It can also be used as both a noun and a verb—how cool is that? I would use this word all the time.

So my question for all you etymologists out there: what are some English words that only exist in English? Or is English such a mutt —not to mention klepto—of a language that all our words find their origins elsewhere? Oh, and remember that old notion that the Inuit have 100 words for snow? According to Wikipedia, it’s an urban myth.

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