[RNLD] Your favourite words
racheln at unimelb.edu.au
Tue Dec 1 08:06:12 UTC 2015
I am always on the look out for new, interesting examples of how languages differ in the ways they reflect the culture of their speakers and their characterisation of the world around them. Inspired by the excellent thread on tongue twisters from a few months ago, I thought I would see whether members of this list would like to share their favourite examples of words expressing unique cultural concepts; interesting polysemy reflecting cultural perspectives; and/or words expressing meanings and concepts that are difficult to translate with a single word in English.
I am particularly interested in such examples from Australian Indigenous languages, but would appreciate examples from any languages you are familiar with.
As an example, Murrinhpatha has a verb stem -mardarereth that means ‘to eat sufficient of of light foods (i.e. those that don’t fill you up)’.
An interesting polysemy is exemplified by another Murrinhpatha verb stem –mardawal that means both ‘to move right through the middle of a place or a group of people’ and ‘to reprimand or tell someone off’
No doubt you will all be able to think of hundreds of interesting words that fit the bill, but just send me your favourites :)
I will post a summary to the list if there is sufficient interest.
A/Prof Rachel Nordlinger
Associate Professor and Reader
Research Unit for Indigenous Language
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
School of Languages and Linguistics
University of Melbourne
VIC 3010, Australia
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