Thursday, December 7, 2006

Words and More Words

© 2006 by Julius Lester

Here is a word that should be distributed to everyone who belongs to an Internet discussion group, not to mention a few marriages:

Hai (Japanese noun): It means "'Yes, I am listening to you and I understand what you are saying.'What it certainly does not mean is 'Yes, I agree with you.'" In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore, p. 88

It is difficult to grasp that someone who understands what we're saying would not also agree with us. But is it really understanding we want, or is it that we crave agreement, because when people agree with us, they confirm our identity.

I've started reading a new book, The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World by Adam Jacot de Boinod. The book is filled with words that show what is important in a given culture, as well as words I've needed all my life. Among the former are:

Nakhur, Iranian for "a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils have been tickled,"


Areodjarekput, Inuit for "to exchange wives for a few days only."

And among the latter are:

Torschlusspanik, German for "the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older"


Mingmu, Chinese for "to die without regret,"


Termangu-mangu, Indonesian for "sad and not sure what to do,"

and finally, so you won't think I'm depressed, which I am most assuredly am not,

Dil baagh baagh ho giya, Urdu and Punjab: "Literally this means 'my heart became a garden garden,' and it is used to express overwhelming joy.'" (Moore)


"Red Onions and Blue Vase" - I bought the onions at a local farmer's market for the express purpose of photographing them, but I didn't know how I wanted to do that. My wife, Milan, helped me put together the arrangement on the kitchen counter. The only light was that coming through the window over the sink.