27 September, 2006

One, two, poetazzarorincouroac

Amazonian sesquipedalia:
Mr Dobbs, in his vocabulary of the Esquimaux language, has given us the word won-na-we-uck-tuck-luit, signifying much; and a word but a little shorter, signifying little, viz. mik-ke-u-awk-rook. But the language of a barbarous people that Mons. la Condamine met with upon the banks of the river Amazons, exceeds all others in length of sound, of which he gives a specimen in their word for the number three, viz. poetazzarorincouroac.
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, Of the Origin and Progress of Language, volume 1 (1773).
Perhaps the best instances are found in Brazilian dialect, where ouatou means "stream" and ijipakijiou means "great." Hence the combination with lengthened vowels means river or ouatou-ijiipakiiijou while "ouatou-iijipakiijou-ou-ou-ou-ou-ou" stands for ocean.
— Macdonald Critchley, The Language of Gesture (1971).


we do realize that there are... new items of vocabulary, e.g. video, skreeno, cyclotron, and commies.
Eugene Nida, Morphology (1949): well, the last item makes clear what side of the fence he's on, Mr. American Activities—but what the hell is a skreeno? The OED has nothing. Wikipedia has nothing. Google has what amounts to nothing.
A typical well-indoctrinated Thai Buddhist, who has had no previous acquaintance with the Christian religion, would be likely to interpret the traditional translation of John 3:16 as follows: "God so lusted after this material world that he sent his only Son so that anyone who was gullible enough to believe in him would have the misfortune of keeping on living forever and not dying."
— Eugene Nida, The Theory and Practice of Translation (2003), which also mentions a Latin American missionary who 'insisted on trying to introduce the passive voice of the verb into a language which had no such form'. Ah, the eternal evangel!


misteraitch said...

I wonder if skreeno is a variant spelling of screeno, which ‘was a cross between bingo and Wheel of Fortune, but the number dial and a giant spinning needle were projected on the movie screen.’

Conrad H. Roth said...