Tuesday, 24 February 2009


I heard on the radio the other day that thesaurus means "treasure house" in ancient Greek. I'm not sure how linguistically true that is but it got me thinking about some of the words I love.

Some of my favourite words at the moment...
- Superfluous - Because it just sounds beautiful, like hot, thick custard.
- Anatidaephobia - Because it means "The fear that somewhere, somehow a duck is watching you."*
- Scrimshanker - Because it means someone who skives work or responsibilities but it is so much more formidable sounding.

A few years ago I was given a book called The Meaning of Tingo which is all about "extraordinary words from around the world". It contains gems like...
- Rainen no kono hi mo issho ni waratteiyoh - which is allegedly one of Japan's most successful chat-up lines. It means "this time next year let's be laughing together".
...and I love the things that other languages have words for...
- tallabe - (Zarma, Nigeria) to carry things on one's head without holding on to them
- gagrom - (Boro, India) to search for a thing below water by trampling

Despite being terrible at learning other languages this book is great for giving you a glimpse at how rich languages are. This makes me think of God - he created humans with the imagination and intellect to come up with hundreds of different ways of communicating. Between each language there is so much variation and creativity. How much more creative must God be? And how many ways does he communicate with us? I'm sure I miss so much that God tries to tell me - and I'm so thankful that when I don't get it the first time (or second, third, fourteenth times) he doesn't give up. He just uses different words.

*Okay, maybe its not a real word (it comes from a Far Side strip from ages ago) but the concept is great.


  1. Despite your last sentence, you have somehow you have managed to make me slightly paranoid about the possibility of a Big Brother-esque Duck eyeing my every move.

  2. That is an awesome word, I must admit.
    Do you think it's a naughty duck?
    I think you've guessed who it is!


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