Monday, 26 September 2005

Neologism: Bonstingo!

The BBC website has a cute little article on very specific word in other languages. You know, how Germans have a word for schadenfreude, that sort of thing. Apparently someone's gone through several dictionaries to right a whole book on them. Looks like fun to be honest.

I guess on some level we expect these odd words to tell us something about other cultures, especially if it's something that's happened enough that you need a word for it. Like the old canard about eskimos and how many words for snow they have. Apparently this is called the Sapir Whorf Thesis, though to me that sounds like a device used on Star Trek: TNG to escape an intelligent gas cloud.

Anyway they mention that Germans have "Backpfeifengesicht - a face that cries out for a fist in it". I'm not sure there is an English equivalent of this, which is a pity because it looks like it could be a useful word. So I have recommendation in homage to the BBC article and it's this: Bonstingo. The bonus here is that it has a nuance of insufferable smugness on the face's part, too...

UPDATE: Language Log offers a little debunkage. Particularly that the Malay word for "the space between the teeth" is actually "gap-toothed" and, therefore, totally unremarkable. Although at the weekend I may use "razbliuto" in a sentence even if I know it comes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E

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