A garden of delights for the word obsessed: a funny, amazing, and even profound world tour of the best of all those strange words that don't have a precise English equivalent, the ones that tell us so much about other cultures' priorities and preoccupations and expand our minds.
Did you know that people in Bolivia have a word that means "I was rather too drunk last night and it's all their fault"? That there's no Italian equivalent for the word "blue"? That the Dutch word for skimming stones is "plimpplamppletteren"? This delightful book, which draws on the collective wisdom of more than 254 languages, includes not only those words for which there is no direct counterpart in English ("pana po'o" in Hawaiian means to scratch your head in order to remember something important), but also a frank discussion of exactly how many Eskimo words there are for snow and the longest known palindrome in any language ("saippuakivikauppias"--Finland).
And all right, what in fact is "tingo"? In the Pascuense language of Easter Island, it's to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by asking to borrow them. Well, of course it is. Enhanced by its ingenious and irresistible little Schott's Miscellany/Eats Shoots and Leaves package and piquant black-and-white illustrations throughout, The Meaning of Tingo is a heady feast for word lovers of all persuasions. Viva Tingo!