I just came across this article on the BBC news website. I thought it might interest some of you!
Tingo, nakkele and other wonders
By Georgina Pattinson
Who could resist eating every last bit of curry?
English is a rich and innovative language. But you can't help feeling we're missing out.
While English speakers have to describe the action of laughing so much that one side of your abdomen hurts (hardly an economical phrase), the Japanese have the much more efficient expression: katahara itai.
Of course, the English language has borrowed words for centuries. Khaki and croissant are cases in point.
So perhaps it's time to be thinking about adding others to the lexicon. Malay, for instance, has gigi rongak - the space between the teeth. The Japanese have bakku-shan - a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. Then there's a nakkele - a man who licks whatever the food has been served on (from Tulu, India).
I'm trying to celebrate the joy of foreign words
Adam Jacot de Boinod
These fabulous examples have been collected by author Adam Jacot de Boinod into The Meaning Of Tingo - a collection of words and phrases from around the world.
"What I'm really trying to do is celebrate the joy of foreign words (in a totally unjudgmental way) and say that while English is a great language, one shouldn't be surprised there are many others having, as they do, words with no English equivalent," he says.
Having pored over 280 dictionaries and trawled 140 websites, he is also convinced that a country's dictionary says more about a culture than a guide book. Hawaiians, for instance, have 108 words for sweet potato, 65 for fishing nets - and 47 for banana.
The German propensity for compound words pays dividends. Kummerspeck is a German word which literally means grief bacon: it is the word that describes the excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating.
A Putzfimmel is a mania for cleaning and Drachenfutter - literally translated as dragon fodder - are the peace offerings made by guilty husbands to their wives.
Or there's die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen - to stick one's lower lip out in a sulk (literally, to play the insulted liver sausage). Perhaps it's a Backpfeifengesicht - a face that cries out for a fist in it.
Words and phrases can suggest the character of a nation.
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The Dutch vocabulary, for instance, seems to confirm the nation's light-hearted reputation. The word uitwaaien is Dutch for walking in windy weather for fun.
The Maori-speakers of the Cook Islands sound like an enthusiastic bunch: the word toto is the shout given in a game of hide-and-seek to show readiness.
Perhaps the Inuit notion of a good time must be, of necessity, a little more constrained. The long winter nights must fly by as they play a game called igunaujannguaq, literally meaning frozen walrus carcass. (The game involves the person in the centre of a ring trying to remain stiff as he is passed around the ring, hand over hand.)
But it's those fun-loving people in the Netherlands who should have the last word - the phrase for skimming stones is as light-hearted as the action: plimpplampplettere.
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The Albanians exhibit a strange fascination for facial hair. There are no fewer than 27 separate expressions for the moustache.
Madh means a bushy moustache, posht is a moustache hanging down at the ends and fshes is a long broom-like moustache with bristly hairs.
This hirsute obsession is not confined to moustaches. Vetullkalem describes pencil-thin eyebrows, vetullperpjekur are joined together eyebrows and those arched like the crescent moon are vetullhen.
Perhaps nothing so intriguingly displays differences between nations as the unusual occupations of some of its citizens. Geshtenjapjeks is an Albanian who sells roast chestnuts on the street. A koshatnik in Russian is a dealer of stolen cats.
A kualanapuhi is a Hawaiian officer who keeps the flies away from the sleeping king by waving a brush made of feathers. In Turkey a cigerci is a seller of liver and lungs and the Danish have a fyrassistent - an assistant lighthouse keeper.
And Spanish speakers in central America have a description of a government employee who only shows up on payday - an aviador.
Which brings us back to de Boinod's title: tingo is an invaluable word from the Pascuense language of Easter Island meaning "to borrow objects from a friend's house, one by one, until there's nothing left".
The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod is published by Penguin.