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January 10, 2013

Words We Don't Have In English That We Probably Should

Via Instapundit, some good words English just doesn't have word for.

A few examples:

2 Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude

Kind of convoluted but I know what they mean, I think, or at least something like that. I've been in the situation, trying to ingratiate myself to a girl, of suggesting we do something I'm guessing she'd like, and she agrees, thinking that's what I'd like, but in fact neither of us wanted to do this thing at all, so now here we are, trying to mutually please the other and both failing at at and now mutually displeased, eating a joint of mutton at Medieval Times.

Well no not Medieval Times but something.

3 Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist

Seems useful but I think maybe spelling it out in words is even better: "A face badly in need of a fist." Not sure I want to cut that down into a one-word thing.

5 Desenrascanço (Portuguese): “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation (To MacGyver it)

...

9 Guanxi (Mandarin): in traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favor, but you can also use up your gianxi by asking for a favor to be repaid

That idea exists in the English-speaking word but I don't know how you'd say it briefly.

11 L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it

I think maybe we have that, now: "Jerkstore."

22 Tatemae and Honne (Japanese): What you pretend to believe and what you actually believe, respectively

Very useful -- we talk about this when we talk about preference cascades.


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posted by Ace at 02:12 PM

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