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The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod

The Meaning of Tingo

by Adam Jacot de Boinod

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tingo (book 1)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
It's not so much the words (which as many reviewers have pointed out, are often used out of context) as much as the idea that a certain sentiment/idea/situation happens often enough in a certain culture for it to merit an actual word. It's like The Meaning of Liff, only real. Better check with a native speaker first, however, before throwing any of these around.

I love how certain Filipino words made it here: "magandang hinaharap" (meaning both "a bright future" and "big breasts"), "dangkal" (a handspan) and "layogenic". But where are "gigil" and "kulit"?

Small quibble: The Chinese could have been written in pinyin, to make it easier for me to have the words verified.

More like this online. The good stuff is in the comments section.

( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
A delightful book for people interested in language and trivia. I found myself copying down words and phrases to incorporate into my vocabulary, including the Persian sanud, "the exercise of the mind upon an unprofitable subject"; the Japanese phrase suna o kamu yo na, "like chewing sand"; and the Indonesian desus, "a quiet and smooth sound as someone farting but not very loudly." I was kind of disappointed that there was no scatological section however; I know Pennsylvania Dutch (the language of the Amish) has a fine word meaning "globules of poop that get caught in your pubic hair." ( )
1 vote meggyweg | Jun 10, 2010 |

The author is a researcher for the Stephen Fry quiz show QI, and the book basically reads like an extended set of QI rounds about funny words in foreign languages, all mildly amusing. I spotted one spelling error - the excellent Serbian word inat is given as iant - and there may be others, but I will not be consumed by vengeful spite over it; also I imagine there is room for interpretation of some of the definitions, such as the 10 Albanian ways of describing a moustache, which to be do not seem very different from the ways we describe different moustaches in English.

Going back to spelling, I was a bit dubious of the example given of a word with five consecutive consonants - cmrlj which is Slovenian for bumble-bee - first off, 'lj' is a single letter in Slovenian and second I think the 'r' is basically functioning as a vowel there. (If you are trying to say it to yourself, remember that 'c' is pronounced 'ts'.) However there is no doubting the authenticity of the Dutch word with eight consecutive consonants, angstschreeuw - linguists may cry out in fear and horror that 'ch' is a single phoneme, but it is spelt with two letters. (Again, if you are trying to say that to yourself, remember that 's' and 'ch' are pronounced distinctly in Dutch, unlike in German.)

Like the TV programme it is based on, the book is a little too pleased with its own cleverness, but fun all the same. ( )
2 vote nwhyte | Oct 22, 2009 |
This is a book sounds great. It purports to be a collection of words, not in English, that convey concepts that are unfamiliar, or simply not so succinctly put. My personal favorite is scheissenbedaurn, the sense of disappointment when things don't turn out as badly as hoped. Unfortunately, that, and some of his other words turn out to be bogus. Check the quotes section for comments on "scheissenbedauren". As for "tingo" itself, Wiktionary says that in Rapa Nui, it means: "(transitive) to extract or haul as much as possible," not exactly what Jacot said, and found only one source for it.

Various people in Amazon reviews of this book have criticized his definitions of Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Portuguese words. I did find that Wiktionary corroborated some of his definitions, but I'd check before using any word in front of a knowledgeable person. ( )
  juglicerr | Aug 31, 2009 |
Boinod’s culling from over 250 languages can get a bit tiring if one tries to read in a single sitting. The sheer insane spectrum of meanings and shades of meanings and nuances of meanings is mind-boggling. This isn’t one of those books whose fifty-cent words you try to incorporate into your daily life, but rather a window into the necessity of certain cultures to coin words to mean very, very specific things. It would make for an interesting bathroom reader. ( )
  NielsenGW | Sep 21, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adam Jacot de Boinodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barker, AndrewDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bauer, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haggar, DarrenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howgate, SandraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liikka, Jyrki(KÄÄnt.)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, Roderick / Heart USACover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mosur, M. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sjöstrand, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenn, GöstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
My interest in the quirkiness of foreign words was triggered when one day, working as a researcher for the BBC quiz programme QI, I picked up a weighty Albanian dictionary to discover that they have no fewer than twenty-seven words for eyebrows and the same number for moustache, ranging from mustaqe madh, or bushy, to a mustaqe posht, one which droops down at both ends.
And which of us has not at some time experienced what the Germans define as Scheissenbedauren, 'the disappointment one feels when something turns out not nearly as badly as one had hoped' (it literally means 'shit regret')?

[Actually, according to Robertsonlanguages.com (http://robertsonlanguages.com/disappo...) and (http://forums.menshealth.com/topic/63...) Scheissbedauren was made up by Joe Queenan, and according Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Talk:sc...), isn't even constructed properly.  ]
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Vidste du at japanerne har et ord - bakku-shan - der betyder ´en kvinde der ser bedre ud bagfra end forfra´? Eller at albansk har 27 forskellige ord for overskæg? Eller at det hollandske ord for ´at slå smut med en flad sten´ er plimpplamppletteren?

Betydningen af Tingo er en samling af usædvanlige og specifikke ord hentet fra over 280 sprog fra hele verden om emner som mad, den menneskelige krop og forholdet mellem kønnene. Den er en hyldest til den menneskelige og kulturelle mangfoldighed, som den kommer til udtryk i det mest alsidige, farverige og præcise kommunikationsmiddel vi har: sproget.

Hvad betyder »tingo«? På pascuence-sproget der tales på Påskeøerne, betyder dette ´at låne den ene ting efter den anden fra en vens hus indtil.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140515615, Hardcover)

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 strangest--and most useful--words. 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 Japanese--while 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

The Man Who Swallowed 200 Dictionaries

There is no word (that we know of) to describe someone who spends a year and half of their life poring through a library's worth of dictionaries in hundreds of languages, but that's exactly what Adam Jacot de Boinod did after a chance encounter with a heavy Albanian dictionary. Listen to our interview with the author to hear just how he got started on this strange but fruitful journey, and what he hopes might be the usefulness of his light-hearted book in making us aware of the cultural riches in danger of being lost as the world's living languages become extinct nearly as quickly as its species.

The Meaning of Tingo Language Learning Lab

Adam Jacot de Boinod has chosen a handful of his own favorite words from The Meaning of Tingo Click here to hear him pronounce and define the words, and start slipping them into conversation today!

nakhur, Persian a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils are tickled areodjarekput, Inuit to exchange wives for a few days only marilopotes, ancient Greek a gulper of coaldust ilunga, Tshiluba, Congo someone who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time cigerci, Turkish a seller of liver and lungs seigneur-terrasse, French a person who spends much time but little money in a cafe (literally: a terrace lord) Torschlusspanik, German the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older (literally: gate-closing panic; often applied to women worried about being too old to have children.) pana po'o, Hawaiian to scratch your head in order to remember something waterponie, Afrikaans jet ski

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A garden of delights for the word obsessed: a world tour of the best of all those strange words that don't have a precise English equivalent, the ones that tell us so much about other cultures' priorities and preoccupations and expand our minds. Did you know that people in Bolivia have a word that means "I was rather too drunk last night and it's all their fault"? This collection of trivia from more than 254 languages also includes a frank discussion of exactly how many Eskimo words there are for snow. So, what in fact is "tingo"? In the Pascuense language of Easter Island, it's to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by asking to borrow them. Well, of course it is.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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