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The Meaning of Tingo: and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 27. Februar 2007

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What began as a fortuitous discovery, when BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod noticed that an Albanian dictionary contained 27 different words each for eyebrows and mustache, has become, after his obsessive 18-month journey through hundreds of foreign dictionaries, a very funny and genuinely informative guide to the world's strangest--and most useful--words. There are many books out there that invent, Sniglets-style, the words that the English language doesn't have but needs. What The Meaning of Tingo shows is that, like natural cures waiting to be found in the plants of the rainforest, many of the words already exist, in the languages of the world's other cultures. Who couldn't find a use for "neko-neko," an Indonesian word for "one who has a creative idea which only makes things worse," or "skeinkjari," a term from the Faroe Islands for "the man who goes among wedding guests offering them alcohol"? Some words that Jacot de Boinod has found are bizarre--"koro," the "hysterical belief that one's penis is shrinking into one's body" in Japanese--while others are surprisingly affecting, like the Inuit word "iktsuarpok," which means "to go outside often to see if someone is coming." And then there's "tingo" itself, from the Pascuense language of Easter Island: "to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them."

Nearly any page you open to in The Meaning of Tingo pays hilarious tribute to the inventive genius of the world's peoples. Like Eat, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Miscellany, with which it shares a quirky British charm and a gift-friendly look and size, The Meaning of Tingo is a UK bestseller that by all rights should become equally popular in the States. --Tom Nissley

The Man Who Swallowed 200 Dictionaries

There is no word (that we know of) to describe someone who spends a year and half of their life poring through a library's worth of dictionaries in hundreds of languages, but that's exactly what Adam Jacot de Boinod did after a chance encounter with a heavy Albanian dictionary. Listen to our interview with the author to hear just how he got started on this strange but fruitful journey, and what he hopes might be the usefulness of his light-hearted book in making us aware of the cultural riches in danger of being lost as the world's living languages become extinct nearly as quickly as its species.

The Meaning of Tingo Language Learning Lab

Adam Jacot de Boinod has chosen a handful of his own favorite words from The Meaning of Tingo Click here to hear him pronounce and define the words, and start slipping them into conversation today!

nakhur, Persian a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils are tickled
areodjarekput, Inuit to exchange wives for a few days only
marilopotes, ancient Greek a gulper of coaldust
ilunga, Tshiluba, Congo someone who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time
cigerci, Turkish a seller of liver and lungs
seigneur-terrasse, French a person who spends much time but little money in a cafe (literally: a terrace lord)
Torschlusspanik, German the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older (literally: gate-closing panic; often applied to women worried about being too old to have children.)
pana po'o, Hawaiian to scratch your head in order to remember something
waterponie, Afrikaans jet ski
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.


At last we know those Eskimo words for snow and how the Dutch render the sound of Rice Krispies. Adam Jacot de Boinod has produced an absolutely delicious little book. (Stephen Fry, author of Ode Less Traveled)

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Von Bibliothekswurm VINE-PRODUKTTESTER am 2. Mai 2006
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Auch ich habe eine Rezension dieses Buchs gelesen und fand die Idee sehr witzig, zumal ich als Werbetexter arbeite und Spaß an Wortspielen habe. Daher habe ich mir das Buch gekauft. Die Enttäuschung ließ nicht lange auf sich warten. Schon auf den ersten Seiten ein deutsches Wort, das ich noch nie gehört habe: "Scheissenbedauern". Kennt das jemand? Ich kenne es nicht. Als ich weiter hinten das Wort "Polterabend" fand, habe ich das Buch beiseite gelegt. Polterabend, so erklärt der Autor dem staunenden Leser, wäre eine Party mit lauter jungen Leuten, wo Geschirr zerschlagen wird. Aha. Wenn die übrigen Begriffe auch so korrekt recherchiert sind ... dabei betont der Autor im Vorwort, dass er wie ein Besessener versucht hat, diese Wörter zu finden und ihre korrekte Bedeutung aufzuspüren. Ja, die Idee ist nett, aber Sorgfalt hat der Autor keinesfalls walten lassen. Den einen Stern gebe ich für die hübsche Aufmachung des Buchs.
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Die ganzen Presseberichte haben mich verleitet, das Werk zu kaufen. Aber leider verspricht es mehr, als es halten kann. Oder um es so zu sagen: Kein Mensch kennt die 260 angeblich in dem Buch berücksichtigten Sprachen. Aber wenn "Kummerspeck" mit "grief bacon" uebersetzt wird, wo Bacon doch in der Pfanne und nicht an der Huefte landet, dann kommen mir eben Zweifel an der Zuverlässigkeit der übrigen Erklärungen. Außerdem fehlen durchweg Angaben, ob es sich um Substantive, Verben, Adjektive oder was auch immer handelt. Kurz: Das Buch erfüllt in meinen Augen die Erwartungen nicht, wird aber gut beworben.
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While "The meaning of Tingo" gives a nice insight into the richness of words in other languages and provides explanations on cultural backrounds, customs and expression, it definitely doesn't reach an academic the level. Some words have a rather blurry definition, some are totally outdated and not anymore in use by the native speakers and a huge amount of words is just plain missing. Further the book is written from an American perspective and consequently taking their norms & values as reference for comparisons.

So it's a nice and entertaining present for someone interested in languages, but I wouldn't recommend it to any linguist :)
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 von 5 Sternen 24 Rezensionen
117 von 120 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen nice try 14. Juni 2006
Von G. B. Talovich - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The author has compiled lists of interesting words from languages he doesn't know. That is the problem. He has a lot of examples from Chinese, which I do know. I haven't counted, but I would say more of his Chinese examples are wrong than right. This makes me wonder how accurately he has got the other languages.

Three examples will suffice. On page 5 he informs us that tao in Chinese means `that's the way it goes.' Chinese has been my main language for over 30 years, and I have never heard anybody use tao that way. I can't even figure out what the Chinese is. (I can't figure out the chenyin on the next page, either, or qiubo further on.)

On page 39 the author has apparently got his notes mixed up. Dalu tongtian, ge zou yi bian means The big road goes to the sky, each person makes his own way. It has nothing to do with the purported translation. There are several versions of `the highway comes out of one's mouth,' such as lu chang tzai tzui shang: the road grows on your mouth. In other words, ask directions.

Page 56 ai bu shishou means you love something so much you can't take your hands (shou) off it, not your eyes (mu, yanjing). No matter what, ai bu shih shou is not a word, it is four words. The subtitle says the book is about extraordinary words. Most of his Chinese examples are not words, but cheng-yu, four word sayings, proverbs. For example, page 129 he lists huiji-jiyi; the four words, not one as he says, say taboo disease ban medicine, but what it >means< is to avoid listening to advice about your mistakes, like the author may do if he reads this review. On 145 he lists a long sentence in Chinese, but who's ever heard of it?

Many of his Chinese examples are really obscure, and he need not have used them. Chinese and English express things in quite different ways, so there are plenty of common Chinese words that don't exist in English. Mochi, literally silent contract, means the rapport or teamwork that enables people to cooperate smoothly. Hsienshih, displaying facts, means practical, mercenary, caring only about profit and loss, not feelings or friendship. Sa jiao, sprinkle pampered, means to act cute or sweet to attract the devotion of a loved one. A moment's thought gave me three. I could go on and on.

De Boinod might have been able to guess that Chinese would have a wide range of vocabulary about food and eating, although in England they may not be aware of Chinese cuisine. He managed to write a whole chapter about food and cooking without a word of Chinese. However, with his accuracy, this may not be a bad thing. Kou fu, mouth fortune, means the good luck prerequisite for having opportunities to eat delicious food. Jiao chang, your legs are long, is said of someone who arrives just as something delicious is being served. If this happens often, you may fa fu, develop fortune: get fat. And so forth. In addition, there are all sorts of specialized words concerning the cooking of food.

The book is sloppy. De Boinod can't decide whether to call the language of Easter Island Rapa Nui or Pascuense. On page 111, he lists danh t as the Viet Namese for a church and brothel. T? Where's the rest of the word? Danh tai is a famous talent; dahn tich is a roll book; dahn trat, to strike and miss; what on earth did he have in mind?

Nonetheless, the book is fun to read, if you take it with a grain of salt. I would like to contribute one of my favorites from the Taiwan aborigine Tayal language; I will vouch for the accuracy of this one. A light rain is called tmoq yungay; tmoq, piss, yungay, monkey, monkey piss. Think of hunters walking through the jungle under trees on which monkeys perch...

I enjoyed the illustrations in this book. Also, quite by accident I found that the book makes an excellent mouse pad. The size, shape, and texture of the cover make it just right for a mouse pad, so hold on to the book when you finish.
44 von 44 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen good idea, but... 9. August 2006
Von Sophie1963 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Several other reviewers have uttered the point I was going to make... the idea is nice, but the examples are, at least for a part, inaccurate... I can only speak for the languages I know and haven't read the whole book from cover to cover yet. But when I already found several undeniable errors, my willingness to read it cover to cover dwindled a bit. Someone already mentioned "Scheissenbedauern" which I have never heard although my mother tongue is German, also "agobilles" isn't German at all, but what really make me shake my head in big doubt was the word "allahaismarladik" (in the chapter "fare well") which according to the author is Wagiman (Australian aborigine language) - "to clear off without telling anyone wher eyou are going". Either this guy does not have any idea, or mislayed his dictionaries, or he is incorporating practical jokes on the less informed reader. Any Turkish speakers here? This word simply means "good bye" (literally "we send you away with God" - notice the word "Allah"?, and the usual answer to this is "güle güle" meaning "laugh, laugh").

If for the next edition the author or editor could eradicate mistakes like that and have a closer look at the correct spelling of words that have "Umlaute" like in German or Turkish (there is no such thing as the supposedly German Grubelsucht because it's Grübelsucht, and the Turkish soyle boyle is correctly spelled söyle böyle - actually an s with a comma below, but my pc does not have this symbol). There are some othe nice languages or dialects from which one could draw examples, Swiss German being one of them :-) Oh, and the Dutch word "aardappel" for potato does not come from "hard apple" but from "apple of the earth" - like in German (Erdapfel) or Swiss German (Härdöpfel). As for Polterabend it's not just any young person's party but the specific party given the night before the marriage. Okay, that's all petty stuff and a lot of details, but I feel that if the languages I understand are already half-translated, I can't really trust the rest.
34 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Very inaccurate 4. Juni 2006
Von ullr - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I just browsed through this book in a local store and I'm amazed by how inaccurate this book is. My estimation is about 80% of Russian words are mistranslated or even are completely non-existing (I'm a russian native speaker). I wonder how many wrong words this book has in more rare languages like Easter Island's or Innuit.
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen inaccurate 22. Juni 2006
Von Robert Huebner - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I agree with other reviewers that the idea is quite nice, but the research has been very sloppy. As a native german speaker, I found that he got about 40% of the German examples wrong. For instance, the word 'scheissbedauern' simply does not exist in German -- as one might verify by picking up any German-English dictionary. (Upon googling, one finds that this word has appeared in the literature -- but only in the American literature.) Hopefully, some later edition of the book will fix these kind of problems.
24 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Is this book's author a "schlimazl"? 2. Juli 2006
Von Bart King - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I must say that as someone who loves both language and learning about other cultures, I found the concept behind THE MEANING OF TINGO irresistible. Unique words from other cultures expressing foreign values? The Albanians have 27 different words for moustache types? Excellent!

And generally speaking, TINGO lived up to its promise. Herein I learned that the French have euphemisms for death that are both humorous ("avaler son bulletin de naissance" -- to swallow one's birth certificate) and poetic ("sucrer les fraises" -- to sugar the strawberries).

And yet, doubts lurked. TINGO is a reference book without an index. The author's jacket bio reveals much of his research was done on-line, a sure way to gather misinformation. An NPR interview seemed to confirm that de Boinod's approach to researching was a bit casual. And now, reading through some of the more damning reader reviews on Amazon, I see there may have been a number of mistakes in this small volume.

The book was a funny and enjoyable bit of light reading, but I'll downgrade my five-star review to four, and assume that de Boinod is not a complete "schlimazl" (Yiddish for "inept and lazy fool"), and that he got MOST of his information right. I hope. Otherwise, I'm a "sucker" (American slang for... oh, never mind.)
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