Over at Cracked.com there’s a list of “The 10 Coolest Foreign Words The English Language Needs”, which is a fun read by itself, but it’s the word in the top spot that makes it even more entertaining, at least for me (numbers #10 and #7 are also quite fun). The list goes as follows:
#10. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
A beautiful girl… as long as she’s being viewed from behind.
#9. Espirit d’escalier (French)
When you think of the perfect verbal comeback… much too late.
#8. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan)
A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire.
#7. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.
#6. Nunchi (Korean)
The art of not becoming a Backpfeifengesicht.
#5. Shlimazl (Yiddish)
Somebody who has nothing but bad luck.
#4. Tatemae and Honne (Japanese)
What you pretend to believe and what you actually believe, respectively.
#3. Sgiomlaireachd (Scottish Gaelic)
When people interrupt you at meal time.
#2. Tingo (Pascuense)
To borrow from a friend until he has nothing left.
And the winner is…
#1. Desenrascanço (Portuguese)
To pull a MacGyver.
This is the art of slapping together a solution to a problem at the last minute, with no advanced planning, and no resources. It’s the coat hanger you use to fish your car keys out of the toilet, the emergency mustache you hastily construct out of pubic hair.
Where most of us were taught the Boy Scout slogan “be prepared,” and are constantly hassled if we don’t plan every little thing ahead, the Portuguese value just the opposite.
Fuck preparation. They have desenrascanço.
As the article points out, and well, desenrascanço says a lot about the Portuguese culture. If you want to know more about it, head over to Portuguese for Dummies (beware of the eye-bleeding yellow background), although I find it a bit far fetched in some parts.