There’s a (foreign) word for that

When traveling to a new place or leafing through a phrase book, have you ever come across a great expression that doesn’t exist in English or perfectly describes a common feeling or occurrence? I remember learning in Chile that taco is used for a traffic jam; now I could use taco supreme to describe the city of Istanbul’s daily traffic flow.

I Never Knew There Was a Word for it, a new book by Adam Jacot de Boinod, compiles his earlier works about foreign words The Meaning of Tingo and sequel Toujours Tingo with his collection of odd or out of use English words and phrases, The Wonder of Whiffling. Gadling reviewed de Boinod’s first book and highlighted some great phrases such as the French Seigneur-terrasse (one who spends too much time but little money in a café) and the German backpfeifengesicht (face that cries out for a fist in it), and this collection provides even more linguistic fodder.

Many travelers can admit to being guilty of catra patra, Turkish for speaking a foreign language badly and brokenly. Long-term travelers may have inadvertently pulled a minggat, an Indonesian phrase for leaving home forever without saying goodbye. How about spending time in a bar with a shot-clog, a drinking companion only tolerated because he’s buying the rounds? Perhaps that same bar buddy is crambazzled, or prematurely aged due to drinking?A few more great travel-related idioms:

  • asusu (Boro, India) — to feel like a stranger in a strange land
  • wewibendam (Ojibway, North America) — being in a hurry to get home
  • far-lami (Old Icelandic) — unable to go further on a journey
  • nochschlepper (Yiddish) — unwanted follower; literally, someone who drags along after someone else
  • Tapetenwechsel (German) — wanderlust, wanting a change of scenery; literally a change of wallpaper

And one more just for the Eat, Pray, Love fans…

  • Henkyoryugaku (Japanese) — Describes young women who rebel against social norms and travel abroad to devote time to an eccentric art form, such as Balinese dancing; Literally, study abroad in the wild.

Those are a few of the wonderful words and expressions in this collection currently for sale in the UK or on Kindle. Never suffer from onomatomania (frustration in not finding the correct word) again.