Wise words

I came across this wonderful word while browsing at The Book Wars.


I LOVE when words in other languages capture so perfectly something we all experience, but can’t necessarily articulate.

There are a few Burmese words I particularly like for this reason. This first is yabadeh. (My Burmese sister-in-law particularly hates this word. Sorry, Moe, for mentioning it here!) As best I can explain, it means, “no thank you, but you should feel a bit guilty that I said no.”

In conversation, it might go like this:

Me: Would you like a ride from Skytrain?

Uncle: Yabadeh, yabadeh.

It’s a bit like saying, “Oh no, even though it’s dark and there were those two muggings last week, I know you’re busy and the station’s inconvenient, so please don’t worry.” (Disclaimer: my Burmese uncles are all unbelievably nice, and I’d happily pick them up from Skytrain 50 times so this was perhaps a bad example.)

On to my next favourite: Ahnadeh.

This one means that you’ve been so nice, and I don’t know how to repay you, and I now have a pain in my stomach. As in:

Uncle: Hop in.

Me: I can’t believe you’ve picked me up at Skytrain 50 times, and you can’t even eat my chocolate chip cookies because of your diabetes and your heart condition!

That’s Ahnadeh.

How about the rest of you? Know any perfect words in other languages?

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