9 Foreign Words the English Language
#9. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
To eat past the point of being full just because the food tastes good.
Here is a word that describes such a quintessentially American phenomenon it’s shocking that another culture came up with it first. After all, there are entire civilizations that have never heard of “never-ending pasta bowls” or “dessert pizzas.” Fortunately, the Georgians (the European Georgians, that is) devised a word to describe it exactly. “Shemomedjamo” is the act of eating to the point where your body says, “OK, we did it! We’re all done now,” and then muscling through another three steaks.
As absurd as that may sound, keep in mind that America has a holiday devoted entirely to shemomedjamo in November. The only way to know if you’re done eating on Thanksgiving is when physical pain gets involved. If you don’t eat on Thanksgiving until it hurts to breathe, you’re either a liar or a terrorist (you’re welcome, FBI). In fact, many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving shemomedjamo every day, because they’re so patriotic.
Patriotism comes breaded and deep fried.
The literal translation for shemomedjamo is “I accidentally ate the whole thing,” which is a charming way of saying “Oh my God, why isn’t somebody stopping me?!”
Which neatly brings us to …
#8. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating.
“Kummerspeck” translates to “grief bacon,” a word that finally acknowledges that when we are under a crushing weight of sadness or stress, many of us skip alcohol and narcotics in favor of delicious fried meats.
“Oh God, it reminds me of heeeerrrrr!”
College students do have their own version of this term — they refer to the pounds gained by a new student on his own for the first time as the “Freshman 15” (or the “Freshman 50,” depending on how homesick the kid is and how bad his grades are).
“No, you stud … it’s the number of girls you’ve slept with. Now let’s leave the ’80s and go the gym.”
Sitcoms have always treated this as a predominantly female act (the scene usually features a woman frumped up in pajamas eating fistfuls ice cream after a breakup), but the comforting effects of fatty and salty food is both a physical and a psychological reaction that isn’t exclusive to one gender. Everyone knows how comforting it can be to fill the metaphorical holes in our hearts with real doughnut holes.
Please note that icing makes a godawful lubricant.
What we’re saying is that if there were a product for sale in the United States called Grief Bacon, we can almost guarantee that it would sell off the shelves right around Valentine’s Day, Christmas and all 363 of the other saddest days of the year. Plus, with the recent trend of combining bacon with everything from chocolate to ice cream, it was only a matter of time before we combined it with grief just to see how that would taste.
“Tastes like the cold embrace of a razor. Until you pair it with Easy Cheese. Then it tastes awesome.”
#7. Hikikomori (Japanese)
A teenager or 20-something who has withdrawn from social life, often obsessed with TV and video games.
We need this word because we badly need to draw a distinction here. After all, we’re long past the “If you play video games, you’re a virgin who lives in your parents’ basement” stereotype. Pretty much everyone under the age of 40 owns at least one game machine. And these days, “geek” basically refers to the 80 percent of people who like video games, sci-fi or comics. “Nerd” just means somebody who’s really smart. So what’s the term for, say, MMORPG players who get so sucked into their game that they just withdraw from life?
No idea. All we do is call 911 when the hallway starts to smell.
Because these people do exist — World of Warcraft even has its own syndrome named after it to account for the people who play the game so much that all of their friends think they moved away. We’re guessing there isn’t one person reading this who didn’t have at least one friend disappear from the social scene when WoW was in its heyday. Or maybe they survived only to have Skyrim claim them.
“Fus Ro Dah” is just Dovahkiin for “LOL stfu n00b.”
Well, Japan has named these unfortunate souls: the “hikikomori.” It had to be the Japanese who came up with a word for it, because the phenomenon is at its worst in Japan, where some people will go entire years without leaving their bedroom (this is also a country where, coincidentally, a record number of young people have no interest in sex). Psychologists in Japan think the epidemic is linked to societal pressures and constant bullying.
Japan makes people want to curl up and hide? No, really.
Nevertheless, we all know at least one person who’s right on the cusp of becoming one of the hikikomori, and if you don’t, ask yourself when you last saw sunlight.
#6. Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan)
Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question.
“Gadrii nombor shulen jongu” translates literally to “giving a green answer to a blue question,” and you won’t find a gushier spring of it than in political debates. It sounds like this:
Moderator: How do you respond to allegations that you funneled federal grant money into your string of underground toddler fighting arenas?
Candidate: You know, I really can’t believe we’re focusing on this silly “scandal” when what Americans are really worried about is jobs.
“I will create jobs for boxing managers and trainers. And maybe ninja knife fighters.”
It’s an old rule of politics — if you don’t like the question you were asked, just answer the one you wish they had asked instead. Here’s Sarah Palin doing a clumsily transparent job of it.
If you turn the sound off, it looks like a perfectly normal conversation between two batshit insane people.
But those of us not seeking political office can be just as guilty of this not-at-all-clever bit of skullduggery. Every once in awhile, when someone asks you a mundane question for which you have no answer, pride will intervene and refuse to let you cave to honesty. Before you know it, a question about whether you like a band you’ve never heard of devolves into a story about the time a bird shit in your friend’s eye while the two of you stopped to watch a couple of horses humping. In situations like this, gadrii nombor shulen jongu can, at the very least, convince people to never ask you another question ever again.
And now your favorite musical genre is horse sex.
#5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
To go outside to check if an expected visitor has arrived, over and over again.
For lonely people eager to find new ways to express their loneliness, there is a new word that perfectly sums up the feeling of waiting for someone who, as time goes on, you realize probably isn’t coming. We’ve all been guilty of “iktsuarpok” at one point or another, whether it’s waiting for a prom date or waiting for a concealed-weapons permit in the mail after that prom fiasco. Time can seem to stretch on for eternity in moments that require you to wait on someone else, glancing out the window again and again, waiting for their car to pull into the driveway. The Inuit know the feeling so well they developed a word for it.
They have 40 words for “sudden onset cannibalism,” too, if you’re thinking of visiting.
The fact that iktsuarpok even exists as a word offers us all a sense of exactly what kind of isolation the Inuit people are subjected to every day. They will get all iktsuarpok-ed for the prospect of a guest like a kid for Santa Claus. So the next time you’re feeling sick to death of all the people around you, remember that somewhere there’s a group of people disconnected from civilization in subzero temperatures, just waiting for some hypothermic company to stumble past.
“Just chopping up some nice ice logs for the ice fire.”