After wriggling out of a mind-bogglingly tedious training class this morning – in which the trainer informed me that the verb ‘ameliorate’ is not English and that I should avoid using big words – the following website is an absolute dear.
I adore obscure words and in the case of Arabic I constantly discover new words that English simply lacks a succinct version of.
Admittedly, they are colloquialisms: hayk, la’im, ya3ni and khalas, but they capture the essence of the message so marvellously that English cannot but seem staid and inexpressive in comparison.
A quick gander at the site yields a veritable lexical trove:
Tantenverfuhrer – n. a young man with suspiciously good manners. – ORIGIN German, ‘aunt seducer’.
fucha – v. using your employers time and resources for your own purposes. – ORIGIN Polish, unknown.
Mamihlapinatapai – n. a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but neither wants to start. – ORIGIN Yaghan (language of Tierra del Fuego), ihlapi ‘at a loss as to what to do next’.
schnora – n. a person who always turns up unannounced just before dinner is served. – ORIGIN Yiddish, unknown.
Truly wonderful and the last entry most definitely should become my middle name.
Pop along to The Words English Forgot and pick up a few choice titles – your vocabulary will thank you.