Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Six months down, foreign words, 10 days to go

In my street

I reached the six-month mark of my shopping ban last week, but I didn't realise it until yesterday. I guess that's a sign that not shopping for shoes and clothes is my new normal (and also a further sign that this year has whizzed by at warp speed). I think I mentioned previously that I've decided to extend my shopping ban for a year, so I'm just past the half-way point now.

I like this list of German words we need in English. I've heard (and blogged about) some before (backpfeifengesicht, zugzwang, drachenfutter, kummerspeck), but treppenwitz  - literally 'staircase joke', meaning a witty comeback thought of too late - caught my eye because I know of the French word for this - esprit d'escalier (staircase wit). A lecturer at uni used this expression, and for some reason it has stuck with me all these years. (It's more than 20 years since I finished uni. HOW CAN THAT BE?!)

Buzzfeed apparently has a thing for mining the gems of other languages. It has published a collection of Japanese,  Scottish, Italian and Nordic words (and probably others) it thinks English should steal. I love these lists. 

I also like this list of made up (but etymologically meaningful) words from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which describe emotions that English doesn't already have words for. I particularly relate to 'enouement', the bittersweetness of arriving in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self. Sometimes I feel this way when I look back on my childhood, when my parents were still together and my dad was still alive. 

I have 10 working days until I'm on holidays. 

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