Hi. I’m Kelly and I’m a word-addict.
I love a good word. Something descriptive, whimsical, and multisyllabic. A solid use of persnickety or twitter-pated or kerfuffle or balderdash can make me smile any day!
A friend recently sent me a blog which discussed “25 Handy Words Which Simply Don’t Exist in English.” link here
It had some doozies in it! Some of my favorites were:
“Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.” Here, I’ll even use it in a sentence! “I have to suppress my inner-gigil when I see chubby little infants.”
L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it. As in: “Wait! Come back! I have a snarky comeback now!! (muttered under my breath) L’esprit de l’escalier… the everyday comedian’s downfall!”
And, of course, my favorite was: “Desenrascanco (Portuguese): “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation (That is to MacGyver it).” In true MacGyver style, “I never have a plan. I find that the more elaborate my plan, the more can go wrong. I just aim to desenrasanco from whatever kerfuffle I find myself.” (double points for that sentence!)
These words got me thinking about other words that we have trouble translating into English. Words from scripture like agape, chesed, ezer, or paraclete. We can get part of the idea in our English translations of true love, merciful compassion, strong warrior, and steadfast advocate respectively We add adjectives to strengthen the meanings of the above words, but something is left wanting any time we translate from one language to another. This is why it is so crucial to support Bible translation efforts so that people can read the Word in their heart languages.
These thoughts got me thinking even more about translation and how to make ideas transcend literacy and linguistics. When God called Moses to His service via the burning bush in Exodus 3, Moses asks, “’If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)
My pastor talked one Sunday about the I AM statements in the book of John and how they hearken back to this passage. He discussed in the sermon that everyone would have known when Jesus presented these I AM statements what he was talking about. Everyone would have known. In a world full of languages and translation difficulties, God chose to make his name something that all languages could handle. He used the most common verb in the world, the “to be” verb, and made his name out of that. This fascinates me because such a choice allows for translation into all languages. But there is a sense in which God cannot be identified by any word. He is bigger than our tongues. He chose to call himself something that would be accessible to Moses, the Israelites and people thousands of years later.
Are there any words more beautiful?