foreign words

On Buddhism Without Beliefs

‘In 1995, Helen Tworkov, the editor, asked me whether I would consider writing an introduction to Buddhism as a part of a new series of Tricycle Books. She was looking for someone to present the basic ideas and practices of Buddhism to a lay audience without using any foreign words or technical jargon. I agreed. The result was called Buddhism Without Beliefs, which was published in March 1997. Instead of being the non-contentious introduction to Buddhism that was initially conceived, Buddhism Without Beliefs triggered that Time magazine, in its cover issue on Buddhism in America the following October, called “a civil but ferociously felt argument” about whether it was necessary for Buddhists to believe in karma and rebirth. I had proposed in the book that one could hold an agnostic position on these points, i.e. keep an open mind without either affirming or denying them. Naively perhaps, I had not anticipated the furor that this suggestion would create.

The ensuing controversy showed that Buddhists could be as fervent and irrational in their views about karma and rebirth as Christians and Muslims could be in their convictions about the existence of God. For some Western converts, Buddhism became a substitute religion every bit as inflexible and intolerant as the religions they rejected before becoming Buddhists. I argued that Buddhism was not so much a creedal religion as a broad culture of awakening that, throughout its history, has showed a remarkable ability to adapt to changing conditions. For a while I hoped that Buddhism Without Beliefs might stimulate more public debate and inquiry among Buddhists about these issues, but this did not happen. Instead, it revealed a fault line in the nascent Western Buddhist community between traditionalists, for whom such doctrines are non-negotiable truths, and liberals, like myself, who tend to see them more as contingent products of historical circumstances.

What is it that makes a person insist passionately on the existence of metaphysical realities that can be neither demonstrated nor refuted? I suppose some of it has to do with the fear of death, the terror that you and your loved ones will disappear and become nothing. But I suspect that for such people, the world as presented to their senses and reason appears intrinsically inadequate, incapable of fulfilling their deepest longings for meaning, truth, justice, or goodness. Whether one believes in God or karma and rebirth, in both cases one can place one’s trust in a higher power or law that appears capable of explaining this fraught and brief life on earth. One assumes the existence of hidden forces that lie deep beneath the surface of the contingent and untrustworthy world of day-to-day experience. Many Buddhists would argue that to jettison belief in the law of karma - a scheme of moral bookkeeping mysteriously inhering within the structure of reality itself - would be tantamount to removing the foundations of ethics. Good acts would not be rewarded and evil deeds punished. Theists have said exactly the same about the consequences of abandoning belief in God and divine judgment.’

- Stephen Batchelor, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.

جان‎/jan/jān/jaan [jaan]
—  (noun) Jan/jaan is one of those specials words which lends itself across cultures and languages as a term of endearment and affection meaning, love, dear, heart, and life in East Asia. Arab/Persian: In Arabic, jan represents beloved one or dear. The Persian origins of this word mean life, equivalent to the Punjabi and Hindi definition. Calling a person your jaan, in comparison to the Arab and Persian culture, in South East Asian countries is an act of true love and intimiacy, and not used as liberally as the Persian connotation. Its true origins stem from Sanskrit. In Urdu you often refer to your lover and those your are close to as “meri jaan [meh-ree jaan],” also meaning my life, and my dear. It has a deeper emotional meaning than merely calling someone your love, or sweetheart; it is used in the essence of true love.
Here are some handy words in foreign languages that the English language forgot to translate.

SAUDADE -(Portuguese) a feeling of intense longing for something or someone that you love but is lost.

CAFUNÉ - (Portuguesethe act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.

TOSKA - (Russian) great spiritual anguish without a specific cause. Less intense forms include soulful longing with nothing to long for.

SCHADENFREUDE - (German) the pleasure derived from seeing someone else’s misfortune.

For more of these awesome words, click here.

38 Wonderful Foreign Words We Could Use in English

Thanks to Mental Floss for this one!

1. Kummerspeck (German)

Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)

You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.“

3. Tartle (Scots)

The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)

This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

Read the full list here

Untranslatable Words...

The look shared between two people, both wishing the other would initiate something that both desire, but that both are two scared to initiate themselves.

L'appel du vide
The sudden and instinctive urge to jump from a high place.

An inexplicable and dull ache of the soul, a yearning and longing for nothing in particular.

The unending longing for a love that is lost, or that does not and most likely could not ever exist.

A severe feeling of homelessness, the sense of being lost when not in one’s own home country.

A sudden fear brought on by the diminishing of opportunities, almost like a panic at the thought of closing a door.

Koi No Yokan
Almost love at first sight, the sudden knowledge upon meeting someone that the two of you are destined to fall in love.

I never know quite what to do when I have to say a French word aloud

I mean I could say it properly, the way it’s meant to sound, which makes me feel like this:

Even though it makes everyone else feel like this:

Or I could pronounce it in an extremely anglicized way, which makes me feel like this:

But it makes everyone else feel like this:

Oh good she can’t pronounce it, either.

So I usually settle for a slightly anglicized (but not horrible) pronunciation, even though it kills me a little bit on the inside.

Foreign Words, words, words!


Gheegle: (Filipino) The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.

Forelsket: (Norwegian)The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.

Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass.

Pochemuchka (Russian): a person who asks a lot of questions

Shlimazl: (Yiddish) a person chronically unlucky

Sgriob: (Gaelic) The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky

Pari-pari and Saku-saku: (Japanese) Hard-crispy verses Soft-crispy, i.e. a rice cracker versus fried chicken

Bakku-shan: (Japanese) a girl that looks attractive from behind, but not from the front.

Backpfeifengesicht: (German) A face that needs to be hit.

L’esprit de escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Translated it means “the spirit of the staircase.”

Stam: (Hebrew) An agreement out of amusement and frustration that something doesn’t have a satisfactory answer among those talking.

Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.

Waldeinsamkeit (German): the feeling of being alone in the woods

Ilunga (Tshiluba, Congo): a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time

Taarradhin (Arabic): a way of resolving a problem without anyone losing face (not the same as our concept of a compromise – everyone wins)

Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery

Meraki (Greek): doing something with soul, creativity, or love

Yoko meshi (Japanese): literally ‘a meal eaten sideways’, referring to the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language.

Duende (Spanish): a climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art, which might be fulfilled in flamenco dancing, or bull-fighting, etc.

Guanxi (Mandarin): in traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favour, but you can also use up your gianxi by asking for a favour to be repaid.

Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): to borrow objects one by one from a neighbour’s house until there is nothing left

Radioukacz (Polish): a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain

Selathirupavar (Tamil): a word used to define a certain type of absence without official leave in face of duty

Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan): a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.

Nunchi: (Korean) the innate ability that lets you sense what would be the wrong thing to say in a situation

Honne and Tatemae:(Japanese) Respectively, reality as you understand it, and reality as filtered through what society expects.

Sgiomlaireachd: (Scottish Gaelic) an interruption of mealtime

Desenrascanco: (Portuguese) to come up with a last-minute solution.

Arabic Nouns 1


Assalaamu 3alaikum/Hello Readers:-),

Of lately I haven’t been able to post much on the Word Collector2, so today I'd like to share some Arabic words with you guys. Please enjoy the small list of simple Arabic words words which I put together!

Side note:

Most of the words are nouns.

Arabic Nouns 1

Haa'it (حائط)- Wall

Mudarris/Mudarrisoon (مدرّس/مدرّسون)- teacher/s (masculine)

Mudarrisah/Mudarrisaat (مدرّسة/مدرّسات)- teacher/s (feminine)

Hammaam (حمّام)- bathroom

MirhaaDh (مرحاض)- toilet

Mabrook (مبروك)- congratulations

Taalib/Tullaab (طالب/طلاّب)- student/s (masculine)

Taalibah/Taalibaat (طالبة/طالبات)- student/s (feminine)

Sammaak (سمّاك)- *fishmonger

*A fishmonger is a person who sells fish.

Khabbaaz (خبّاز)- baker

Kannaas (كنّاس)- sweeper; street sweeper; street cleaner

Muhtamm (مهتمّ)- interested; concerned

Sooq/Aswaaq (سوق/اسواق)- market/s

Rihlah (رحلة)- voyage

Safar/Asfaar (سفر/اسفار)- trip/s; travel/s; tour/s

Musaafir/Musaafiroon (مسافر/مسافرون)- traveller/s (masculine)

Musaafirah/Musaafiraat (مسافرة/مسافرات)- traveller/s (feminine)

Okay guys that’s it for this blog post. I apologise for not including the plurals of some of the nouns. Wassalaam 3alaikum and Bye


15 Foreign Words and Phrases People Spell Incorrectly

Here are some problematic frequently misspelled words and phrases of foreign extraction:

1. A capella: The Italian phrase, literally “in chapel style” but meaning “without instrumental accompaniment,” is two words.

2. Apropos: The French phrase for “to the purpose,” and meaning “with regard to” or “opportune” or timely,” is treated as two words in the original language but as one in English. It’s sometimes erroneously split into two in English, which is not appropriate.

3. Capisce: This formal Italian term meaning “understand” is employed in English as a slang interrogative equivalent to “You know what I mean?” (Notice that capisci is also correct, as it’s the equivalent of capisce in the second person).

4. Chaise longue: This phrase, literally “long chair” in French, is often mispronounced “chase lounge” (the correct French pronunciation is “shez long,” though the vowel sound in the first word is in English closer to “shayz”) and, by association, the second word is sometimes misspelled like “lounge.”

5. Coffee klatch: This half-translation of the German word Kaffeeklatsch (“coffee gossip”) is an open compound (or, in a variant, more faithful spelling, a hyphenated compound: coffee-klatsch).

6. De rigueur: This French word for “proper,” adopted into English, is (like liqueur) properly spelled with two us.

7. En masse: This French phrase for “as one” is one of several adopted into English as is.

8. Flak: This German acronym — derived from Fliegerabwehrkanonen, or antiaircraft guns, and, by extension, the shells fired from them, and used in English to refer to criticism or opposition — has so often been misspelled flack that this second spelling is now an accepted variant, though the direct borrowing is preferred.

9. Hors d’oeuvres: The jumble of vowels following the article d’ in this direct borrowing from the French phrase meaning “apart from the main work” stymies many writers.

10. Laissez-faire: This direct translation of the French phrase translated roughly as “let do” and referring to minimal government interference in economic or other affairs is always hyphenated, even when used as a noun.

11. Mano a mano: This Spanish phrase for “hand to hand” refers, in English as well, to two people going up against each other in competition or conflict.

12. Oeuvre: The French term for “work,” most often used in the sense of the sum total of an artist’s output, consists of a bewildering sequence of letters.

13. Per se: People unfamiliar with the origin of this phrase (it’s borrowed directly from the Latin phrase meaning “in itself”) sometimes misspell it “per say” (perhaps as if to write “as said”).

14. Segue: Confusion with the name of the vehicle called the Segway may be responsible for the occasional misspelling of this word to resemble the brand name, though that error may just be the result of a phonetic attempt to produce the borrowed French term meaning “to make a close or smooth transition.”

15. Tchotchke: This improbably spelled alteration of a Yiddish word meaning “trinket” is a spelling bee competitor’s nightmare.

From Daily Writing Tips

Malay Nouns 2


Assalaamu 3alaikum dan Selamat malam…
Peace be unto you and Good night

Hi Readers:-),
Tonight I’d like to share some Malay nouns with you all. Happy learning!

Malay Nouns 2

Jambatan- bridge

Buku- book

Pensil- pencil

Rumah- house

Lilin- candle

Ikan- fish

Gunting- scissors

Masjid- mosque

Bunga- flower

Berus gigi (pronounced beh-rus gee-gee)- tootbrush

Pokok- tree

Perahu- boat

Kereta- car

Kopi- coffee

Teh- tea

Televisyen (pronounced tele-vi-shen)- television

Komputer- computer

Motosikal- motorcycle

Gereja- church

Botol- bottle

Keretapi- train

Katil- bed

Lori- lorry; truck

Daun- leaf

Basikal- bicycle

Pedang- sword

Jam- clock

Bas- bus

Kemeja- shirt

Pisang- banana

Nanas- pineapple

Bandaraya- city

Suratkhabar- newspaper

Khabar- news

Surat- letter

Bapa- father

Ibu- mother

Payung- umbrella

Kampung- village

Lagu- song

Anjing- dog

Kuda- horse

Kucing (ku-ching)- cat

Burung- bird

Rama-Rama- butterfly

Okay guys, that’s it. I may have repeated some old words in this blog, because I saw the need to do so. Anyways, gotta run….Happy night! Salam damai (peace)


If you like can try this word game to test your Malay vocabulary skills:

This blog post was previously posted here: