Sunday, June 04, 2006


Unlike many bloggers, the Drunkablog doesn't blather on about what books he's reading; it's a very personal thing to him, and perhaps a little embarrassing. But last night the D-a-W and I were all ready to watch a movie when we discovered that the remote was missing. We sat there for a moment looking at each other, comfortably ensconced as we were, waiting to see who would break first and get up to look for the damn thing.

This reminded me, naturally, of the word "mamihlapinatapai," which I had just run across in Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary. (Yes, yet another book about the pizza-faced fat boy with a thing for words.)

In his account of the methods Johnson used to write his definitions, author Henry Hitchings notes that "On the whole, the words it is hardest to define are common, everyday ones. According to the Guinness Book of Records [sic], the most succinct word and the hardest to define succinctly is 'mamihlapinatapai,' a term in the Fuegian language spoken in southern Argentina. It means, "Two people looking at each other without speaking; each hoping that the other will offer to do something which both parties desire but neither is willing to do.'"

I was going to mention this to the D-a-W, but by the time I found the remote I'd forgotten all about it.

(Credit: Lord of the Hissy Fit, et. al from The Wonderful World of Longmire (as seen on TV!). There are lots more funny covers there.)

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