‘Waldeinskameit’ is a German word which means ‘the feeling of being alone in a wood’. Last time I was in Germany, I asked some people about it. They said it didn’t exist. I told them it did. ‘We’re Germans,’ they said. ‘It doesn’t exist.’ I started swearing in my head because I’d used the word in a book and felt stupid about it. The word does exist. It was coined by the romantic poet, Ludwig Tieck. I say it myself sometimes if I can’t sleep. It’s a useful word.
There are a lot of other useful, untranslatable words. ‘Frotteur’ is French for ‘male human who enjoys rubbing his crotch against women in crowds’. I do that all the time. I rub up against their bottoms and if they turn around then I turn around too and shout at the person behind me ‘stop pushing’. I have never been arrested.
And ‘Mamihlapinatapai’ is a Yagan word which describes what happens ‘when two people look at each other in a meaningful way and both want to have a conversation but neither of them wants to initiate it’. That’s a nice one. Very romantic. Sometimes that happens between me and sexy women when I am being a Frotteur to them on the train. That word makes me think how being brave in little ways can make Big Good Things happen. Maybe that is why Big Good Things don’t happen so often.
I’ve also found a team of Old English words which maybe don’t seem madly useful, but at least feel nice to say. ‘Kench’ means ‘laugh loudly’ and ‘Jollux’ means ‘fat human’. Saying them feels like doing carpentry with your mouth. Kench. Jollux. I kenched at the jollux.
But you should be ‘stealth’ if you’re kenching at a jollux, unless the jollux is a ‘bancer’. Those are both from The Instructions, by Adam Levin (who will be at Crossing Border. I urinate a little when I think about seeing him). ‘Stealth’ just means ‘doing something in a concealed way’ (okay, not a new word, but used in a new way), and ‘bancer’ means, I think, ‘dickhead’.
The point of listing all these words is that they are exciting to me and I am going to start using them. I am going to start using them at Crossing Border, if I feel capable of being brave in a little way. There is a reason we don’t just eat lumps of meat and boiled vegetables. It’s boring. Using the same words all the time is boring too. Words are fun and stupid. There are so many. Finding old, lost, or unused ones and using them when you can seems like a positive thing to do. Like adopting a stray kitten or tending a forgotten grave.
I’m re-reading this now. There are a lot of words underlined in red. I’m not sure if it’s cruel or kind to hand something loaded with untranslatable words to a translator. That’s what I’m doing though. I’m sorry. I panicked.
p.s ‘Absenen mistatengwar’ means ‘excuse me for the typos’ in the language of Tolkien’s Quendi Elves. I found it on a roleplaying website. I wonder how many times people say that every day.