Thursday, December 22, 2005

Oorxax and Iktsuarpok

"The Greeks had a word for it," we used to say, when stumped for the precise way to describe something. Now, thanks to Adam Jacot de Boinod and his collection of bizarre foreign words, we discover that the Malays, Hawaiians and Sumatrans had, and still have, words for it too. There is a word for the fold of skin under your chin (alang - it's Nicaraguan). There is a word for the ring you put in the nose of a calf in order to stop it suckling its mother (oorxax, and, as you know, it's from the Khakas region of Siberia). There is, thank God, a word that sums up that annoying thing you do when your taxi is 20 minutes late and you're too restless to wait for the doorbell to ring. It's iktsuarpok - "to go outside often to see if someone is coming."

article about strange words from around the world


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