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

Adam Jacot de Boinod, "The Meaning of Tingo: and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World"
Penguin (Non-Classics) | 2007 | ISBN: 0143038524 | 224 pages | PDF, epub | 7,7 mb

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 strangestand most usefulwords. 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 Japanesewhile 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

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