Words—just words

This is where I list some of my favourite words and phrases. I think of them like stones found on a beach. Some are recent discoveries, while others are treasures I've cherished for decades.

Babushka: Russian. Old woman. Such a vivd word that I used only with deep respect. It brings to mind a poor woman wearing a chin-tied headscarf. I imagine gold teeth, mismatched clothes and absolute wisdom etched upon the crease-lines of her face.

Brotloße Kunst: German, Derogatory description for the pursuit of art. Literally means "breadless art."

Carapace: A tough exterior to protect soft insides.  Think: bike helmets or turtle shells. But, it can also apply to ways we protect emotional vulnerabilities. 

Gobsmacked: A feeling of shock. Often leaves one speechless. Always unexpected.  

Insouciant: A casual lack of concern. Good word for describing dictators like Stalin or Hitler. Discovered it recently while reading Laurence Rees' 2021 book, Hitler and Stalin.

Klimbim: German word for junk. Re-discovered it while reading Walter Kempowski's Mark und Bein. (on page 201 in the Penguin edition). I can just hear my mother saying it. "Es ist alles nur Klimbim."

Natschalnick or nachal'nik or hachal'nik:  (Russian) Means leader or boss in Russian. It was how my mom and other Germans referred to their Soviet superiors. 

Sammeltassen: (German) Collection of mismatched teacups and saucers. 

Schadenfreude: A German word used by English speakers. Means joy at another's pain.

Sehnsucht: (German) A yearning sort of like homesickness without a cure. Sailors have Sehnsucht for the sea, and then at sea they have Sehnsucht for land. It might be one of my most favourite words. 

Starosta: (Slavic): female term for a leader (male form: starost). My mom said they called her the starosta while in the Ural POW camp because she was older and could speak Russian. As a child, I thought of the word meant she was a 'star' and liked thinking that she could have once been such a bright little light.

Taphophile: Someone interested in graveyards and headstones. (Who knew there was a name for this!)

Vergangenheitsbewältigung:  25 letters long! The struggle of coming to understand an unpleasant past. (Modern Germany dealing with its Second World War guilt.) Vergangenheitsbewältigung: Something I'm been trying to do with my own stories created from family's history. 

No comments:

Recent Posts

Faded Memories

On the Vistula Lagoon. . .  Reading, or should I say—trying to decipher—my mom’s scattered memories . . . faded handwriting stuck between re...