Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Wondrous Words Wednesday: In Other Words: An Illustrated Miscellany of the World's Most Intriguing Words and Phrases

I read In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World written by Christopher J. Moore in early 2020. 

"Take a trip around the world of words and unlock the meaning of some of the most insightful, intriguing, and satisfying expressions on the planet, for which there are no English equivalents."

Christopher J. Moore closely studies all the languages of the world to find the most fascinating words and expressions and shares them with us in this book. Moore finds words in French, German, Italian, and other Western European languages; Czech, Russian, and other Eastern European languages; Yiddish; Nordic languages including Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic; the Middle Eastern languages of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian; African languages; Asian languages; ancient and classical languages; and indigenous languages. 

This is the kind of book that we who love words could read for a year.

Or two. Or three.

I immediately knew I wanted to get my own copy of the book. The version I was most interested in was the illustrated version, though, and it took me a while to acquire a copy. Happily, I found one at Daedalus Books last fall, and I shall now share three of my new favorite words and phrases with you.

Indonesian (GOT-ong ROI-ongt)

"Indonesians use royong to mean 'mutual cooperation,' or more precisely, the relationship between a group of people who are committed to accomplishing a task of mutual benefit....The word is almost always used in conjunction with gotong to form a phrase that means 'to carry a heavy burden together....'"

Sounds like a phrase we could use here in the US...

Swedish (bay-AH-kah)

"A word that frequently recurs in Swedish and is quite untranslatable outside the Scandinavian and Germanic languages, it encapsulates a whole philosophy. Livbejakelse consists of liv, meaning 'life,' and bejakelse, meaning 'saying yes,' hence 'affirmation of life.' Bejaka means an enthusiastic, optimistic, or joyful attitude, and, when applied to life, signifies far more than just agreeing to live. Within this one word we sense a greeting --- a welcome to all the vicissitudes that life may bring and an understanding acceptance of people and things as they are."

Oh, I like this one a lot.

Japanese (shib-OO-ee)

"Shibui describes an aesthetic that only time can reveal. As we become older and more marked by the riches of life's experience, we radiate with a beauty that stems from becoming fully ourselves. The term can be applied to almost anything --- a person, a house, or even a piece of aged wood."

Perfect, right? "We radiate with a beauty that stems from becoming fully ourselves."

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.

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