Full of stars and hail

May 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I have a demonic, punk rock kitten who, as I type, is attacking my bare feet with great ferocity (she also steals cigarettes – and rollie papers, filters and lighters. What’s next, a whiskey still next to her basket?). When she attacks, I tend to pull my toes away and offer her my heel instead, able to withstand the sharp little fangs a touch better.

And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a word for that:

Tstumi-oidagana (Yamana, Chile) – to offer a part of oneself to be bitten

I spend a rather obsessive amount of time delving into dictionaries and sifting through websites, looking for linguistic curiosities. As a language teacher, I tell myself it’s all research for class but really, being able to sit here at my antique writing desk snorting into my coffee is a treat in itself. Some of these might strike a chord with you too…

 Allupaareik (Iñupiat, Inuit) – the return of a woman after a wife exchange

Phrsingoomai (Ancient Greek) – to be excited by eating garlic

Gabkhron (Boro, India) – to be afraid of witnessing an adventure

Upa-nishád (Sanskrit) – to sit at the feet of another to listen to their words

Dynke (Norwegian) – to dunk someone’s face in snow

Korova (Russian) – the unfortunate person that prison camp escapees take with them to eat over their period of flight

Kaelling (Danish) – a woman yelling obscenities at her kids

Knedlikový (Czech) – being rather partial to dumplings

I always hoped there was a word for that last one! And something tells me I might fit into Tsongan culture quite easily, given the following:

Dlanyaa (Tsonga, South Africa) – to lie on one’s back with one’s legs apart, gorged on food

Vukurukuru (Tsonga, South Africa) – the noisy walk of a person in a bad mood

 Then there’s the multitude of sayings associated with that particularly human condition, drunkenness:

Sternhagelvoll (German) – full of stars and hail

Rangi-changi (Nepalese) – slightly too multi-coloured

Whereas some…well, some are so intriguing that I almost don’t want them explained:

Féauðnu-maðr (Old Icelandic) – a man lucky with his sheep

Á-panna-griha (Sanskrit) – someone whose house has not fallen in

 If this tickles your fancy, I highly recommend reading the work of Adam Jacot de Boinod and his linguistic research. If you find a word for tobacco obsessed cat, let me know.



  1. Jessica Tremp said,

    a little bit of Phrsingoomai, a little Dlanyaa and a little Vukurukuru

  2. Dave Cochran said,

    Might I offer another beauty from Old Icelandic;

    *Inbrenna* – Verb: “to barricade someone inside their own house, then set fire to it”.

    You’ve gotta watch out for a language that needs *one word* to express that concept 😀

    • inkymouth said,

      Good lord, you know I love my Icelanders, but really…. 🙂

  3. gretchen cello said,

    babe i can’t get over the shock that nepal draws a line at anything being too multi-colored. they make the brightest, most beautiful fabrics ever. ps. ich bin sehr sternhagelvoll. x

    • inkymouth said,

      Ah, but think of how you’d feel after too many swigs of raksi, Nepalese home brewed alcohol…the colours would leap off the fabric! And if one of them were pink, well, I’d totally understand the phrase 🙂

      PS There are so many terms for a hangover, but my favourite is the German “Ich habe einen Kater” ie “I have a tomcat.” Hope that’s not you after last night’s shenanigans, my love! X

  4. Leith O'Malley said,

    Hey I know a happy guy in New Zealand called Féauðnu-maðr!


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