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In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World
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In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  229 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Why do we say bete noir and not 'black beast', doppelganger and not 'double goer'? When is it that meanings become lost in translation and it is simply more satisfying to use the original? This wonderfully accessible book gives unique insights into different cultures and languages by looking at the distinctive words they use as well as giving you a whole new vocabulary for ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published March 17th 2005 by OUP Oxford (first published October 2004)
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I've been a word geek for as long as I can remember. Big words, little words, in or out of context - they fascinate and delight me. Those lists of weirdly specific phobias , bizarre methods of divining the future , beastly adjectives , crash blossoms -- they keep me entertained for days. In line at the post office, I make up words in my head, or concoct fake but amusing typos. I construct weird little ditties which then stick in my head like the hook of a power ballad by REO Speedwagon.

May 30, 2009 Mrine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
"What's the name of the word for the precise moment when you realize that you've actually forgotten how it felt to make love to somebody you really liked a long time ago?"

"There isn't one."

"Oh. I thought maybe there was."
--The Sandman

If you've ever searched in vain for a single word to describe some ephemeral feeling or situation, perhaps you've just been looking in the wrong language. In Other Words is like a multilingual dictionary for such "untranslateables."

After reading this, I wish I had.
Soobie's heartbroken
I was expecting something else, to be honest.

I was quite disappointed in it, to tell the truth. The introductory paragraphs for every Language group were quite general and not very informative and the words were described with a very vague language in my opinion (remember, not a native English speaker here).

It also started badly. I mean, in the introduction the author states that Spanish and Italian have the same word for "sleep" and "dream". Which is true for Spanish, the word being "sueño"; bu
Lauren (galacticake)
A book full of words from other languages.

For an incomplete list of my favorite words from this book, I have a wunderlist
Mar 31, 2016 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, language
lots of interesting words and phrases, organized by country of origin, or sometimes continent, with an explanation of each and an approximate pronunciation.
It's always interesting to read about concepts that English doesn't have. Sometimes it's something that simply doesn't apply in our culture, sometimes it's something we need help to recognize.
This is not a book to read cover to cover at one sitting, although it's not very long, only 123 pages. You have to ponder the words/phrases.
chapters are
Feb 01, 2015 Roberta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating little book collecting untranslatable, culturally-bound terms from around the world.

Fun examples include:
kiasu (Singlish) - one who always wants the best for oneself and tries hard to get it, such as a keen student who will hide the important book on another shelf to make sure no one else gets it before him.

mokita (Kiriwina, New Guinea) - the truth everyone knows but will not discuss openly, as it may cause embarrassment.

mamihlapinatapei (Tierra del Fuego) - when two people share a p
A truly fun little book for those who love words and languages. This book is semi-serious, but not really of academic merit - it's just fun.
n Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World
Christopher J. Moore

Includes many words you may never have heard before, their meanings, and etymology. Not necessarily something you want to sit down and read straight through, but delightful for word-o-philes bent on discovering novel lingual nuances of our language (and others!).

Some that I liked:

Drachenfutter [drach-ern-foot-er:]
Meaning “dragon fodder,” this is the offering German husbands make
Jan 20, 2008 Deborah rated it really liked it
Christopher J. Moore’s In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World, attempts to define words and idioms that have no precise English equivalents, but more importantly, it lends a cultural context to such words and expressions.

To cite an example, Moore refers to the confusion which arose out of Jiang Zemin’s 1997 visit to the U.S., when he claimed that the idea of democracy was rooted in 2,000-year-old Chinese philosophy. As it turns out, minzhu first a
Jun 17, 2010 Michele rated it liked it
Shelves: language
I love the idea of the untranslatable and what it reveals about a culture. Some ideas are universal and so even though the word may not exist in English, the idea is instantly familiar. A good example is the Russian word "razliubit," a verb used to describe losing a feeling for someone you once loved but now no longer do, like falling out of love. Likewise, there are words and phrases so unique to a culture that there is no parallel. An example they use is Yidiny, an Indigenous Australian dialec ...more
Apr 20, 2011 Umar rated it really liked it
Great book. Short quick read but definitely fascinating. I'm a fan of languages ever since hearing about language extinction and the variety of beautiful words out there.

Here is a list of my favorite words and their approximate meanings:

esprit de l'escalier - when you remember something witty to say to someone literally after you say goodbye to them
demi-monde - half world, half hidden and on the margins of society, like the world of prostitutes
schnappszahl - numbers that have certain striking
May 30, 2009 Xin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This compact volume is organized by language families: Western European languages, Eastern European, Yiddish, Nordic, Middle Eastern, African, Asian, etc, and includes an index “Word Finder” at the back. The scope of the book is narrow: words in other languages that have no English equivalent are listed alphabetically within their language and explained. Some of the words included have been absorbed into the American language melting pot, such as feng shui from the Chinese, and glasnost from the ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 06, 2008 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Intrepid vocabunauts
Shelves: language
A brief, fun compendium of non-English words which are largely undefinable in English, or which have been incorporated intact into English idiom (e.g. esprit d'escalier , schadenfreude , powwow ).

Some of my favorites include the Norwegian "utepils" ("the first drink of the year taken out of doors"), Japanese shibui (a beauty that only time and age can reveal), and the Indonesian ramai (a crowded, bustling, chaotic social environment that creates a common good -- e.g. a busy kitchen).

And of
Feb 16, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: language
This was a cute anecdote of a book and I enjoyed every minute I spent with it. I'm not sure how much I will retain but this would be the perfect book to bring along/peruse if you know that you're going to be in company with someone you have next-to-nothing in common with and you'll be in need of something to discuss. We all have language in common- after all- and it's a step up from the weather. 7/10
Eva Fischer
Jul 25, 2014 Eva Fischer rated it really liked it
For someone who loves to learn little known facts (also known as trivia whores), this book is a great combination of a literary hommage and a trip around the world!

Great read!
Apr 26, 2013 Helen rated it it was ok
I like the idea of this book, to share a variety of words and phrases from other languages that have interesting or entertaining meanings.

However, the book was very light and superficial, only intended to be a quick read. I know languages are FILLED with examples of quirky phrases that could have made it onto the list in this volume. Sure, filling the book with long lists would tire out most readers, but the book in its current incarnation smacks of something that took a weekend to gather and wr
Ayne Ray
Sep 24, 2009 Ayne Ray rated it really liked it
An engaging examination of words and phrases from around the world for which there are no English equivalents. Covering European, Yiddish, Nordic, Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Scottish, and Gaelic languages (and more), this is an immensely enjoyable romp for lovers of language. For example, the Japanese word "yokomeshi" (which literally means "boiled rice" [meshi:] and "horizontal" [yoko:]) is how the Japanese define the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign la ...more
This is certainly a nice introduction book for those who just discovered the beauty of other languages. I like the way each chapter is started with a quick introduction to the language. What's unfortunate is that there are not enough words in each chapter. People who have read the tome that is Jacot de Boinod's I Never Knew There Was a Word for It might find this one a little lacking.
Jul 12, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
A big thank you to Tina for giving me this book. I have loved reading each and every word and someday I hope to find a way to include all of them into my own writing.

Language is fascinating because it conveys culture even in the simplest of words. And there are words in other languages that express emotions that English require sentences to explain.

This book is a fabulous introduction to sociolinguistics and to a variety of languages. One of my favourite books of the summer so far!
Mary Whisner
Jan 04, 2014 Mary Whisner rated it it was ok
Shelves: language
This is fairly light--good for browsing.

The Kindle edition I read had too many typos. When you're learning a new vocabulary word (and its pronunciation), you pretty much want it to be accurate. I could give some examples, but my loan expired and I don't have it on my Kindle anymore.
Dan Pollard
Dec 31, 2012 Dan Pollard rated it really liked it
Shelves: language
For anyone with a minor interest to majorly obsessive fascination in etymology. This book really shows how expressive you can be in other languages, on levels unimaginable in English. Some words give a clear insight into the cultures of other peoples, especially the indigenous and far-eastern.

My personal favourites are the Japanese "aware" and Navajo "hozh'q". Can you imagine a language where words are created on the basis of how they make us feel?
Nov 06, 2008 Debbie rated it really liked it
I love other languages, even though I technically don't really speak any. At least nowhere near fluency. Anyway, there's no form of plot or anything, just a list of hard to translate words and phrases. I found it interesting, and may have to reread the lists of phrases again before I return the book to the library so that I may remember some of them.
Vicki Beyer
Lots of fun words that the author maintains have entered English because there is no decent translation. Unfortunately, many of them, while interesting, don't seem to have actually come into English vernacular just yet. One little gem, though, was a Czech proverb to the effect that to speak more than one language is to live more than one life.
Oct 15, 2014 Zorba rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone has interest in languages.
Recommended to Zorba by: Non
If you're a languages GEEK, you'll definitely enjoy it. I have a big interest in other languages and cultures.. I enjoyed the book a lot.

Simply it's gives couples of special words from a wide of main languages around the world. What I really enjoyed the most was the scattered funny linguistic stories here and there.

Aug 12, 2007 Vanessa rated it liked it
This was a fun book. I love discovering new words - which this book is full of. Even better - these words have no real equivalent in the English language. Perhaps my favorite words were the German and Dutch words for "pedant", which translated literally as "Raisin-pooper" and "ant-f*cker" respectively.
Apr 04, 2012 Enya-Marie rated it really liked it
Great book with interesting interpretations, it also provided a great insight into other cultures and I loved the way it was organised by parts of the world, made it so much nicer to read than your average alphabetical language by language guide.
I just wish there was another book with more in it!
Mar 20, 2016 Ladiibbug rated it did not like it

A disappointment. As a reader who loves words and has a general knowledge that there are untranslatable words in other languages, "the Most Intriguing Words Around the World" of the title led me to expect much, much more than this flimsy and uninteresting book.
Sep 12, 2012 Dylan rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed Moore's eclectic collection of vocabulary from many different languages, but almost more interesting was his sociological analysis of the culture demonstrated through the vocab. Those interested in linguistics or fun words should definitely read it.
Jan 15, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
So many good words from so many countries. Too bad I can't remember them all or even use them if I did. If I could acquire a skill without having to take the time to learn it, it would definitely be the ability to speak every language!
Briana Grenert
Jun 27, 2012 Briana Grenert rated it really liked it
I want a copy of this book for reference! It would be so useful to have these words in my vocabulary! And I learned so much from the little cultural blurbs. Iceland is cool.
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“yokomeshi [yo-ko-meh-shee] (noun) As an untranslatable, this one ranks high on my list of favorites. I could not improve on the background given by commentator Boyé Lafayette de Mente about this beautiful word, yokomeshi. Taken literally, meshi means "boiled rice" and yoko means "horizontal," so combined you get "a meal eaten sideways" This is how the Japanese define the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language: yoko is a humorous reference to the fact that Japanese is normally written vertically, whereas most foreign languages are written horizontally. How do English-speakers describe the headache of communicating in an alien tongue? I don't think we can, at least not with as much ease.” 0 likes
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