Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Say What

Words. If I’m not saying them, I’m listening to them. Well, maybe not listening to them, but hearing that little humming noise they make in the background as I wait for my turn to talk.

Which brings us to the most annoying words and phrases of 2010. I have no quarrel with any of the candidates because they are part of my daily vocabulary. “Whatever,” for example, is surely better than the alternative: Thus it was and thus it ever shall be. And “Actually” and “Like?” Why not take "You Know" away and be done with it. Then I can just sit in a corner, rocking.

This attempt to rid our vocabulary of certain words is surely taking the English language in the wrong direction. We need more words, not fewer.

For example, we need a word for a woman who stands on her doorstep screaming at her kids. The Danes have one, it’s “Kaelling.”

Or what about a word for someone who attends a funeral just for the free refreshments. The Portuguese call him Pesamenteiro.

How about “Gamadj” from the Obibway tribe, which means to dance with a scalp in one’s hands in order to receive presents. Believe me, I’ve been to that Christmas party.

Once you get started admiring other cultures, it’s hard to stop. “Buffona” is Italian for an attractive woman with a mustache. And “Rhwe” is South African for sleeping on the floor without your mat while drunk and naked.

As far as I know, no other country has yet nailed a few concepts that would be handy in my daily life. Such as:

Unreasonable anger when neighbor always parks in front of your house and there’s plenty of room in front of his.

…Oh wait a minute, I think I found something in Croatian.


  1. Once again, I smiled from beginning to end. Maybe the WV: on blogger is an attempt to provide us with new words, and actually we do quite well with them before forgetting what they are. It would be fun to have a new-word smackdown. The Washington Post does something like that ever year.

    WV: uhripent. Person who owe you an apology, but never does and never will, no how!

  2. I'm laughing! Nothing here worth 'refudiating'!

    As for the neighbor - wouldn't 'jerk' work just fine?
    WV: clogs. As in 'he clogs the front of your house.'

  3. Love this!!!
    Nicely expressed Karin!

  4. There are words and phrases that definitely need 'refudiating' before the start of 2011. "..touch my junk." comes to mind.

  5. Rhwe!!! Love it!!! We had a couple from South Africa here for dinner last night...friends of the in-laws and a very fun couple!!! Nobody ended up Rhwe though...close, but no Rhwe!!!

  6. I know the word for said neighbor: "asshole".

    Maybe the word you seek is my WV: "Lizing", as in, "Lyzing weasel"!

  7. "Unreasonable anger when neighbor always parks in front of your house and there’s plenty of room in front of his"

    lets talk.

    Especially when it's a Chevy Suburban (biggest one made) in front of your studio's picture window. You wouldn't believe their answer.

    We've filed charges with the Northwest division. Not for that.... the detective came by yesterday

  8. PA: Is it illegal to park in front of the neighbor's house?

    Is there a word for neighbors who knowingly and deliberately plant plants and park cars that obstruct visibility at the intersection, and a city that does virtually nothing about it? Most of the words I come up with sound like Lenny Bruce on steroids.

    WV: equessno. Something about riding horses.

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  10. Bayside reminds me of this wonderful Hebrew word: Bablat. which is an acronym of "beelbool beytseem le-lo takhleet." Laughing already? It means messing with someone's testicles for no apparent reason.

    WV: Hysteridg. When one digs something, hysterically.

  11. Whatever! Like I'm actually going to change my common vocabulary;) I'm from Canada and we say eh all the time too!

  12. Karin - I don't want to know why you know that! Actually, there's always a reason, isn't there? I'm guessing it's code for something that's really about the Arab-Israeli conflict; like what Nasser did in '67. Ask an Israeli about Zion National Park.

    Here's an English version of a song from the greatest Israeli band ever, known as Kaveret, but often referred to as Poogy:


  13. More fun:

    Touch my ....

    Wv:coscren = cosher?


  14. I didn't think moustashe, woman and attractive went together. How'd you like the handlebars on that babe! Uh, no.

    Also, I must've balbated myself one or twice over the years but I can't remember.

  15. Someone's late for their linguistics lesson.

  16. I'm so dull, totally physiggoomai. Garlic excites me.

  17. Oblivious sounds like the right word for your parking miscreant, but Liz's sounds deliberate.

    wv: hybesm: what young woman has

  18. People need to stop saying "What." Instead they need to start saying, "WHY?!" Particularly of politicians.

  19. Did a little research into the Israeli Hebrew acronym "bablat" literally meaning "messing with someone's testicles for no reason." As suspected, this term is used to mean "baloney", "hogwash", or "bullsh*t." Seems to me that it derives from the notion that if you are messing with someone's "baitzeem", literally "eggs," you are doing it for a reason, and if you're really doing it for no reason (i.e. you have no "objective" in mind), you really are full of "baloney." Kind of like the line from the song Matchbox, "If you don't want my peaches, honey, please don't shake my tree." The Israelis are a very practical people.

    WV: psectr. Not going there, we've just covered that.

  20. in New YOrk, that would be the most annoying noises cause we have so many of them. !

  21. Here's a good one: Kummerspeck. Literally, it's german for "grief bacon," and means the extra fat you put on from emotion-related overeating.

  22. Love "kummerspeck." God knows I have enough of it.

    Here's "schadenfreude," taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. There's even a song about it, from the musical Avenue Q:


  23. gigi rongak

    Malay for the space between the teeth

    Mister Earl: No, it's not illegal to park in front of my picture window. Thats not why I've called in the North East division

  24. Love it! I had no idea these terms existed. My mother used to threaten my brother and I, as kids, when we misbehaved. She'd ask us if we wanted her to screech at us like the neighbour lady across the alley did at her kids. We'd always shake our heads vigorously and, wide-eyed with horror, say "Nooooooo!!" It always worked to keep us in line. Now I know the woman was Kaelling. lol

  25. Do you know the Danish word "skadefryd"?

    I wonder if there's a word for "taking pleasure in being taller than others."

    WV: flast. Please pass the flask, and fast!

  26. Obviously there's a new dictionary out there that no one's told me about. These are great.

    I share the neighbor-parking problem. I know I don't have a leg to stand on, but I stand on it anyway.

    Who wound up Earl?

    Can we also vaporize "beg the issue"?

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  30. Had a parking issue during the recent blizzard - I'm next to our alley entrance to keep an eye on things and hear when thieves or people relieving themselves are present.

    As we sensibly waited for the landlord's hired plow to extricate ourselves from Herculean drifts, the newbie 'urban pioneers' from up the alley mounted an assault to clear our end of the alley by the street. You couldn't move a vehicle anyway, despite their abulations, not without a sled dog team, and although my pack are of champion stock, they are, after all, in the flyweight division.

    I'd just spent the previous day in a twelve hour ordeal extricating my son's vehicle from various snowbanks and whiteout conditions, so naturally I pretended not to be at home. (Where he got the idea to cruise the tundra, I'll never know.) Eventually, however, I had to emerge from the wolf's lair to buy a pack of smokes, or a 40 oz., I don't remember which. To my chagrin, I found myself in a near argument with the lady leading this ambitious group, who led her office attire clad husband around by the nose. It was 5 degrees above zero.

    "We're going to call the city to see if you can legally park there!" she groused, this, after they'd buried my door and son's parking spot in 6 feet of snow. I think they were angry for not offering assistance. A neigborly gesture, certainly, but, in essence futile, in light of the amounts of snow accrued. A fit of pique had ensued, or cabin fever, I suppose. The snow can make you do crazy things, strange, twisted ... I think my wahoo pals call it tahtalfutzup, or something, but we were drunk at the time.

    "Why is it a problem?" I whined, voice nasal and thin from the cold. "You've been here six months, and now it's a problem?"
    "I had to wait for a woman with a walker when I came home from work, there isn't enough room!"
    Oh, no, you had to yield to a pedestrian!" I exclaimed. Her husband looked up from shoveling with an uncertain gaze, not knowing whether to run or fight. (there's good reason I dress like a loutish, rummy, snow bunny - keep's 'em guessing) Knowing something of the art of war, I decided at that time to make a strategic retreat. Besides, the beer in my brown paper bag had frozen. Insult had been achieved, but, at what cost?

    Later, remorseful for my behavior, and as well as due to concern for a possible visit from an alarmed and under-funded constabulary (we are known, after all, as the 'Land of 10,000 Laws') I decided to make amends. Uncovering a bottle of Brut Korbel given to us as a gift two or three years earlier, I approached the 'pioneers' semi-derelict abode.

    Knocking on the back door, I was greeted by a glance and a scowl, through murky glass, by my mustachioed adversary of earlier in the day. A thin glaze of a Nair-like substance adorned her upper lip. At that moment, she must have realized her mistake as her scowl grew darker, eyes afire with only God knows what thoughts of fiery retribution in her eyes.

    Believe you me, this was no 'buffona'.

    After a moments screeching from behind the door, I was greeted by the yuppie of the house. We exchanged conciliatory noises, the bottle of re-gift wine and a frosty handshake. Only then did I make a hasty departure. I was barely able to gain the relative shelter behind their garage before I burst out laughing.

  31. Delightful post (except for the parking-impaired neighbor part). Maybe 2011 will be the year that old words are brought back to life to liven up our language. I'm pushing to revive ostrobogulous, although the youngsters might find that too long to text.

  32. Somebody got a dictionary of fun words for Christmas.

    I think your neighbor parks in front of your house because he sits in his car to bablat and he doesn't want his wife to catch him at it. You have those nice bushes blocking your view. It's perfect.

    PA, I can't wait to hear the upshot.

  33. Heh, what gems! I'm all for borrowing these into the English language. {Or would that be the American language? Or the Australian language? Whatever.}

    Petrea ~ hahahaha!! If my neighbour starts parking in front of my house, I won't be able to help where my mind will go.

  34. Great story, Bandit.

    Katie, that's the first time in life I've seen that word.

    Banjo, as you can tell, Earl gets fired up by a good word or two.

    Yeah, PA, what's the scoop? Meth house?

    Shell has given us all a Kiwi phrase for the evening: Hitting the turp.

    WV: Noxylies. How you feel the day after.

  35. My husband has that same pet peeve about the neighbor car! I would like one for parents who over identify with their children's accomplishments. Is there one for that? As in, Johnny scored a goal, which means I am good at soccer. What do you call those people?

  36. I love words, I really do so I'm tickled to no end by this post.

    May I say that I recently learned that Russian only has 100,000 words, English 500,000? Can you tell that I've been reading a lot of Russian crime novels lately?

    As for your neighbor, deflating the four tires each to different PSI settings can be an incentive for them to try other venues.

    Bandit: I'm on the floor, I used to live on 21st Ave in Minneapolis, next to the Something Or Other Bar. The first day of snow was like watching a large scale bumper car tournament. People were insane, you would think they would remember from year to year!

    Margaret: helicopter parents. And from what I remember the wind from the rotor blades can be very annoying.

  37. Someday, I will tell you about the car I--well, I damaged it. I gave the owner fair warning. He was begging for it.

  38. Petrea, I can't wait to hear how you finessed this.

  39. Karin your post prompted me to get out my 2003 book "Weird and Wonderful Words" (which has great Roz Chast cartoons) where I first encountered ostrobogulous (meaning bizarre, unusual or interesting). Maybe I'll start a new blog called "Ostrobogulous Ephemera". A good word for today is woofits: an unwell feeling, especially a headache. They cite one reference to it meaning "the ailment that comes with the morning after the night before".

  40. Katie, you do that and I'll be your most irritatingly regular visitor (surely there's one word that covers that).

    Wonder why some words stick around and others fade away. When I was in high school, everything good was "outrageous." Next came "awesome."

  41. Allow me to add: Those that attend a funeral just for the deviled eggs, potato salad and fried chicken....southerners.

  42. Irritatingly regular visitor: misterearl.

  43. Even though you called me Shirley (RIP Leslie), Weird and Wonderful Words actually has a word that covers it: asseclist (an attendant or follower, from a Latin word meaning 'to follow after"). For my new blog I'll be sure to have a section called Asseclists. Yes it's a pity that so many great words fade away.

  44. I really like a few of the made-up words I've heard that some people think are real. For instance, congradulations on earning a degree, and, a common one heard from callers to a radio show I like, who feel they've been misunderstood and dealt a raw blow --- misconscrewed.

  45. I have that same annoying neighbor parking issue. I wonder if there's a word to describe getting sucked into a psychic vortex when family visits.

    wv: lecha - Hebrew for "go" or "leave"

    Happy New Year, Hiker.

  46. Of course I totally agree with you Karin. Your way to write is so interesting and loving. Happy New Year !

  47. yelling neighbor---screaming biotch works.

    had not heard the hebrew word...then again, not likely the rabbi would teach me that one...;-)

    at one point, I knew a lot of "special" words in a Yugoslav dialect...thanks to the oft drunk father of a college friend. Too bad it's been long enough (and the country broke up along the way too) for me to remember what to call your neighbor.

    We have our own stories of asshat neighbors. The day we moved in (where the movers didn't show, so we called EVERY friend we knew to help) the new next door neighbor decided that the ONE car parked in front of her house for 2 hours was JUST TOO MUCH. She complained to someone (not either of us) and later came back to scratch the metal front door to "teach us a lesson". Uh-huh...she forgot to wait on the meet-n-greet where she would have found out my cousin (who was helping us move) is an officer with the local PD...who called it in. Neighbor suddenly found out what it was like to have B&Ws and unmarked cop cars blocking her drive too!

    If it is a public street, occasional parking in front of someone else's house is fine, as needed. But,e when you have other options...a little air out of the tires (while wearing latex gloves so as not to leave prints or tire black on your hands)...can be effective, if the asshat is smart enuf to figure it out.

    wv: nailati...what one does to asshat neighbors tires....ahem...oops!?

  48. Whoa. Truly, since my neighbor is pleasant in all other ways, I really did think it was I who needed a word for sweating the small stuff. (But what fun to find out I'm not alone in perspiring over this.)

    Elena, malaprops -- yes, that is a post in itself.

    Fabrizio. Sigh. I love it when you come by.

  49. If you're going to even touch the asshat neighbor's car and you want it to have the effect of said asshat never parking in front of your house again, you need a couple of things to happen: you need asshat to suspect it was you who touched the car, and you need that to be absolutely impossible to prove. It also helps if you first ask asshat to move his car and he knows he's in the wrong by not doing so.
    Just speaking from experience.

  50. Love the post . . . I've heard that the Japanese have a word for "smiling while crying."

  51. So sorry!!! I had to leave the party due to heavy partying in the Southland, but I'm back!!! And enjoying every last word of it!!!

    I'm feeling quite noxylies but no woofits...
    Hope your asshat has an epiphany of neighborly thoughts with the New Year...
    And Katie...Ostrobogolous Ephemera...CLASSIC!!!

  52. You're taking a break. stop it.