Did you know that people in Indonesia have a word that means 'to take off your clothes in order to dance'? Or how many words the Albanians have for eyebrows and moustaches? Or the Dutch word for skimming stones is plimpplamppletteren?
Drawing on the collective wisdom of over 154 languages, this intriguing book is arranged by theme so you can compare attitudes all over the world to such subjects as food, the human body and the battle of the sexes. Here you can find not only those words for which there is no direct counterpart in English (such as the Japanese age-otori which means looking less attractive after a haircut), but also a frank discussion of exactly how many 'Eskimo' terms there are for snow, and a vast array of information exploring the wonderful and often downright strange world of words. Oh, and tingo means 'to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by asking to borrow them'.
'A book no well-stocked bookshelf, cistern-top or handbag should be without. At last we know those eskimo words for snow and how the Dutch render the sounds of Rice Krispies' - Stephen Fry
I have never had a book that I have enjoyed so much that has left me so lost for words with which I am able to use for a review. So many dull cliches jump to mind which are totally inadequate to describe such a book. To be totally honest, I'm not sure I can beat the 'wordsmith's wordsmith' Stephen Fry with the few words that sum up this book.
So, I will try my best: This book is a wordsmith dream. A book filled with words from around the world that make you laugh and make you think. Only the Italians could use a food analogy to describe a relationship with your partner, or be so poetic in describing a new love affair. Only the japanese could be so poetic and almost 'confusian' about describing everything.
The Meaning of Tingo will have you laughing from start to finish, and help me captivated from the moment I picked up this book. It is also the sort of book one can pick up, put down and re-read anytime one chooses. It can also be picked up and opened at random to kill a few minutes - be warned though, you might lose a few hours...
To sum up, this book will amuse, entertain and educate you. It is a necessary addition to any word-lover's library. It may have no discernible use, save for it's ability to entertain.
The website accompanying this book is a place where you can contribute too, and I hope it portends a second book from the author.
It is gratifying to see that I am not the only collector of foreign dictionaries and I suspect I could add one or two to the authors collection.
A great buy.
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