9781594200861 / 1594200866

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


Publisher:Penguin Press HC, The



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About the book:

What began as a fortuitous discovery, when BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod noticed that an Albanian dictionary contained 27 different words each for eyebrows and mustache, has become, after his obsessive 18-month journey through hundreds of foreign dictionaries, a very funny and genuinely informative guide to the world's strangest--and most useful--words. There are many books out there that invent, Sniglets-style, the words that the English language doesn't have but needs. What The Meaning of Tingo shows is that, like natural cures waiting to be found in the plants of the rainforest, many of the words already exist, in the languages of the world's other cultures. Who couldn't find a use for "neko-neko," an Indonesian word for "one who has a creative idea which only makes things worse," or "skeinkjari," a term from the Faroe Islands for "the man who goes among wedding guests offering them alcohol"? Some words that Jacot de Boinod has found are bizarre--"koro," the "hysterical belief that one's penis is shrinking into one's body" in Japanese--while others are surprisingly affecting, like the Inuit word "iktsuarpok," which means "to go outside often to see if someone is coming." And then there's "tingo" itself, from the Pascuense language of Easter Island: "to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them."

Nearly any page you open to in The Meaning of Tingo pays hilarious tribute to the inventive genius of the world's peoples. Like Eat, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Miscellany, with which it shares a quirky British charm and a gift-friendly look and size, The Meaning of Tingo is a UK bestseller that by all rights should become equally popular in the States. --Tom Nissley

The Man Who Swallowed 200 Dictionaries

There is no word (that we know of) to describe someone who spends a year and half of their life poring through a library's worth of dictionaries in hundreds of languages, but that's exactly what Adam Jacot de Boinod did after a chance encounter with a heavy Albanian dictionary. Listen to our interview with the author to hear just how he got started on this strange but fruitful journey, and what he hopes might be the usefulness of his light-hearted book in making us aware of the cultural riches in danger of being lost as the world's living languages become extinct nearly as quickly as its species.

The Meaning of Tingo Language Learning Lab

Adam Jacot de Boinod has chosen a handful of his own favorite words from The Meaning of Tingo Click here to hear him pronounce and define the words, and start slipping them into conversation today!

nakhur, Persian a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils are tickled areodjarekput, Inuit to exchange wives for a few days only marilopotes, ancient Greek a gulper of coaldust ilunga, Tshiluba, Congo someone who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time cigerci, Turkish a seller of liver and lungs seigneur-terrasse, French a person who spends much time but little money in a cafe (literally: a terrace lord) Torschlusspanik, German the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older (literally: gate-closing panic; often applied to women worried about being too old to have children.) pana po'o, Hawaiian to scratch your head in order to remember something waterponie, Afrikaans jet ski

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