I stumbled upon this word today: Kummerspeck. It’s a German word that describes the excess weight gained from emotion-related overeating . Literally translated: grief bacon.
I dunno… Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like an oxymoron. For me, bacon = joy.
The field of linguistics has long fascinated me. As an anthro major in college, I’ve formally studied linguistics. I’ve also studied French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Mandarin. Unfortunately, at this point in time, about the best I can do with most of ‘em is order a beer, some coffee, and purchase shoes.
During my first college attempt in 1987, while working on a research paper exploring the historical value of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, I became fascinated with the history of Ladino.
Ladino was the main language of Sephardim: the Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal during the Middle Ages until persecution, culminating in expulsion in 1492, forced them to leave. (The name Sephardim was derived from the Hebrew word for Spain, “Sefarad.”)
Two phenomena characterize the language as a whole. First is its preservation of hundreds of archaic Spanish words, some of which have disappeared from use in modern Spanish, and others which have changed their meaning among Sephardim. Ladino is also unique in the substitution for hundreds of Spanish words, either unknown or forgotten over the centuries, of parallel terms borrowed from the local languages with which Sephardim came in contact.
I decided I was going to learn this long endangered language. Being the masochist that I am, however, I thought it would be fun to first learn Hebrew and Spanish, the two parents of Ladino, if you will.
I loved Hebrew class. (Studied in my second attempt at college, circa 1989.) Tzivia Gaba. Amazing woman. She began each class with 5 minutes of guided imagery, counting us out of our trance…
“ahat, shtayim, shalosh, arba, hamesh…”
She believed it would aid in clearing our minds, leading to being better able to absorb and learn the day’s new material.
While I may not recall much Hebrew, I do still use guided imagery. Thank you, Tzivia.
So, back to Kummerspeck. I love words and phrases that succinctly describe a phenomenon in just a few syllables. (I am an efficient girl at heart.) Of course, we all know there are loads of foreign words that do such… words for which there are no English equivalents.
One I know all too well: l’esprit d’escalier, used to describe the precise moment a person comes up with a clever retort to an embarrassing insult, typically after the moment to implement said retort has already passed. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Here are a few others:
Vorgestern: the day before yesterday (German)
Ubermorgen: the day after tomorrow (German)
Schadenfreude (of course): taking pleasure at another’s misfortune (German)
Mamihlapinatapei: connotes “an expressive and meaningful silence,” romantic or otherwise. (Indigenous word from Tierra del Fuego.) Haven’t we all had those breathtaking, time-standing-still instances? It is in those moments the camera in my head has had the opportunity to indelibly capture faces dear to me.
And speaking of fun with words, check out this FreeRice site Trevor hipped me to.
“It’s a game that tests your vocabulary and gives 10 grains of rice to the hungry for every question you answer correctly! There are small adds along the bottom of the screen and it is this advertising that pays for the food. According to the BBC online they are making enough money to feed 50,000 people a day! And it’s fun! And it’s free.”
[End of rambling post.]Filed under NaBloPoMo, blahblahblah | Comments (4)