Pardon my tartle.
“Pardon my tartle,” the woman said and I must have looked startled because she felt the need to explain.
“A tartle,” she said. “I couldn’t remember that woman’s name to introduce you. So sorry.”
She was referring to another woman who had walked up and asked her a question, then walked away. I didn’t think anything of it, really. A tartle? She hadn’t introduced us, that was all. I was afraid she had made a gastrointestinal indiscretion right there in the hallway and felt the need to confess. Thankfully, I was wrong.
I looked it up.
Apparently, a tartle is a Scottish word that means the fear and hesitation you have when you’ve forgotten someone’s name, especially at the exact moment you have to introduce them to someone else.
It happens to me all the time.
While looking up the word tartle, I learned some other fascinating words that fit right into everyday life — but apparently they don’t have English equivalents. Like shemomedjamo. I can’t rightly pronounce it, but it’s what Georgians call it when you’re really full, but your food is so good and so delicious that you can’t stop eating it. Not us Georgians, the ones who live in the other Georgia, in Caucasus. They also have zeg, which means the day after tomorrow. I can pronounce that and, quite frankly, am surprised that we don’t have a word that means the day after tomorrow.
Then again, I suppose it’s just as easy to say, “See you Tuesday,” as it is to say “See you zeg.” I’ll have to think about that.
There’s the word pelinti, from Ghana, which equates to the thing someone does when they bite into something really hot and they tilt their head around while making an “arrrrrrrrr” noise. It means to move hot food around in your mouth. It reminded me of a few weeks ago when I watched as someone took a big ol’ bite of piping hot pizza and they did just that — squealed a little and stuck their tongue out. I laughed at them. Then I did the exact same thing about five minutes later. Karma.
The Swedish have lagom, which means something like not too much and not too little ... juuust right. And the Yaghan language has mamihlapinatapai, which I can’t pronounce, either, but I totally understand.
It describes that moment when two people look at each other and both know that they want to do the same thing but neither one of them wants to be the first to do it. Like being the first to grab a cupcake off the table. Or tell someone they have food in their teeth. Or something like that. I get it.
I have experienced what the Tagalog describe as a layogenic, someone who, from afar, looks great but when you get up close they look like a big old mess. Then there’s that woman who cusses at her children in public. I have a few choice words I’d like to call her, but the Danish actually have a word for her. She’s called a kaelling.
And then there was the time in college when I thought it would be a super cool idea to get a permanent from a strange woman who worked out of a trailer, I experienced what the Japanese call age-otori — to look worse after a haircut.
I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t really need a word in English that means the day after tomorrow. I think Tuesday is ... lagom.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.