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The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World [Hardcover]

Adam Jacot de Boinod
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Sep 2005
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? Or that the Albanians have twenty-seven words for moustache? Or that the Dutch word for skimming stones is plimpplamppletteren? Drawing on the collective wisdom of over 280 languages, this intriguing book is arranged by theme so that you can compare attitudes all over the world to such subjects as food, the human body and the battle of the sexes. Here, you can find not only those words for which there is no direct counterpart in English (such as pana po'o in Hawaiian - to scratch your head in order to remember something important), but also those that sound confusingly the same (gin in Turkish means to dry out). Oh, and tingo is a Pascuense word from the Easter Islands meaning to borrow things from a friend's house one by one until there's nothing left .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 1st edition (29 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140515615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140515619
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 18.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'The Meaning of Tingo' may well prove to be the must-have British stocking-filler for 2005 -- The Economist, 24 September 2005

...a luscious list of linguistic one-liners -- Daily Express, 1 November, 2005

...a pleasure to dip in to. -- Sunday Telegraph, 2nd October 2005

...compulsively perusable -- The Times, 22 September 2005

...destined to be the Eats, Shoots and Leaves of the autumn. -- The Independent, 26th September 2005

A book no well-stocked bookshelf, cistern-top or handbag should be without. -- Stephen Fry

I liked the inventiveness of the Spanish curse "may all your turkey's feathers turn into razor blades" -- Steven Poole, The Guardian, 15th October, 2005

From the Author

Many English speakers admit to being lazy both at home and when travelling in their reliance on English as the pre-eminent international language and I feel that in this multi-cultural age we live in we should embrace the joy, glory and wonder of foreign words and expressions. English is unquestionably a great language but I suppose what I am saying is ³don¹t be surprised there are many others.²

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing book, but not 100% accurate 22 Oct 2012
This book if full of weird and wonderful words and gives some insight into other nation's thought processes. It is let down by inaccuracies. The Dutch word 'aardappel' claims to be literally a 'hard apple', whereas it actually is an 'earth apple', cognate to the French 'pomme de terre'. So read it for the fun of the thing, but don't take it seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some 24 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There seem to be lots of books on language around. This one is not compelling. Read English in 100 Words by David Crystal or The Horologican by Mark Forsyth instead.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It does what it says on the label 28 Mar 2008
A wonderfully light and uplifting read. Great for the loo, waiting rooms or sharing with a friend over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. The author has found some wonderfully obscure and diversely interesting examples of lingual communication, which often embarress the native speakers who deny the existance of these words - just because you haven't heard them doesn't mean they have not been heard before. The origins and roots of the English language would not be recognised by modern English speakers, even today some of my English friends admit to needing an interpreter when they travel to Scotland and Italian friends of mine from the Mountain regions of Italy do not understand a word of my Roman Uncle's Italian and speak with him in French or English, neither deny the authenticity of the other. I love this book. It broadens the vocabulary and the mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone with a love of language 27 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for a friend whose job takes him around the world and would have liked to keep it for myself. A list of different ways to say "Hello" and lots of handy phrases in a multitude of languages. A nice tactile book..
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The dangers of dictionaries 30 Nov 2006
By John
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author doesn't seem to appreciate that there is more to understanding a langauge than looking words up in dictionaries. He is clearly no linguist.

I know the book is supposed to be fun, but many entries are either wrong or misleading.

And whoever did the proofreading should be sacked.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Puzzled by the rave reviews 28 Nov 2007
I picked up this book for the first time couple of days ago and I can't understand why it gets such rave reviews. To me, to such a books sounds like a good idea, but when you actually produce it you get bored after the first few pages. I know its not meant to be read through at one go, but for me it's just a Xmas stocking filler book that you give some one when you can't think of anything else to give them - everybody feigns delight when they get it but are bored within seconds if they actually read it. It's a miss in my book.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very happy with my purchase: delightful book full of insights and quirky expressions from all over the world. Promptly delivered, perfect conditions. Buy with confidence
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 25 Sep 2013
By jema
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I heard about this book on Radio 4 and immediately ordered it. I speak a few languages and have always been fascinated by expressions that exist in one language and not others as the concepts they express are often linked to cultural dufferences and local habits. The book is fascinating.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice
Very good, it was just as advertised. I am Very happy with it the product. No complaints. Thank you x
Published 7 months ago by Freya Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and frivolous with surprises
This is great - very funny and educational, I love books you can dip into and get an interesting bit of info, like "nakhur - a Persian word for a camel that won't give milk until... Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2009 by Maccadee
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Interesting
This book is extremely interesting and fun to read. Those reviews that have said it is inaccurate and does not flow properly clearly do not understand the design of the book. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2008 by El Stevens
2.0 out of 5 stars An Empty Shell
'The Meaning of Tingo' is supposedly an extensive list of extraordinary phrases used in other languages and their meaning. Read more
Published on 30 April 2008 by Wildlife Bookworm
1.0 out of 5 stars Factually Deficient
Based on the fact that most expressions from my own language, German, were either very rare or completely new to me, and often inexplicably misspelled, I suspect similar problems... Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2008 by Gideon Haberkorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Broaden your mind and have fun at the same time
If you have any interest at all in the world outside your own and you're intrigued by language and languages, you'll enjoy these books (The Meaning of Tingo and Toujours Tingo) as... Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2008 by P. Reid
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious Tingo
I'd read about this book in some of the press and was looking forward to getting it - what a disappointment. Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2007 by Sam Coleridge
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