There should be a word meaning, ’to covet a word from another language‘. There’s so many beauties out there which we really need to be using. They would fill gaps in our vocabulary we didn’t even realise were there.
Luckily, English being a magpie tongue, we don’t need to trouble ourselves coming up with acceptable translations, all we need to do is pinch the words, stick them in the dictionary and start using them as if they were ours in the first place. It’s a bit of a bare-faced cheek, but let’s face it – we’ve been at it for centuries. It’s true that some of these words are something of a mouthful for English speakers at first – but that didn’t stop us appropriating Schadenfreude did it?
Here’s my top five words we really need to be adopting as part of the English language:
I’m going to start using this one today – and wait for everyone else to catch up. It’s a French phrase meaning literally ‘staircase wit’ and essentially it means coming up with a witty riposte, but much too late to say it. It’s the devastating one-liner you think of on the bus home – or as you are heading off up the stairs.
German clearly. This means the fear of being alone in the woods. I know – how have we managed without it? Only Germany, birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, would come up with a word so evocative of creepy fairytales.
This means – to borrow from a friend until there is literally nothing left in his house. Comes from the native language of Easter Island – where they borrowed everything apart from statues of huge heads which were too big to lift. I wonder if they’d mind if we borrowed their word for a bit?
Turkish. It means moonlight shining on water. And who wouldn’t want a word for that?
A Japenese word, which describes the act of staring vacantly off into the distance without thinking about anything at all. I spend a quite a lot of time doing Boketto – and it’s time well spent too, funnily enough.