Trippingly on the Tongue

     Among the attractions in the July issue of National Geographic is a lengthy article which illustrates how some native languages in Russia, India, Mexico, and even parts of the United States are disappearing as the last speakers pass away. A few of the examples given of words or phrases which are nearly gone: ezenggileer (“to stirrup”); chofe gidego (“is looking at liver”); hepem coicooit (“one who dances like the white-tailed deer”); Miixoni quih zó hant zno tiij? (“Where is your placenta buried?”).

     “Vanishing Voices” has inspired me to report on some of the numerous idioms spoken in very foreign tongues that are almost never heard today. Herewith a lexical list of such expressions:

    kfjjd iust nvst tflsae acwy prlr: preferred shares of Pinchbeck Snuff good deal

     jxrp dgmpi, jmbr sppnt, buflap bobug wht klrb: fall back, spring ahead, and don’t mess with Howdy Doody time

     Dmwby eap venojay hoffe kauw yhgoc?: Where is my wandering Gila monster tonight?

     whtla nbgzrk eow: is bifurcating the fusebox      

     jmrb dgmpi jxrp quillop skruf: shake your wattles and dance the Porcupine Scud

     msult, spcn ouy rspdgz fjccm: replevin, with fries on the side

     bldey dkqu bqratmo: my capybara has the pip

     krptt jvicn sadidn tsaz: may your cenotaph be moved to Dismal Seepage, Ohio

     thrn sli ryc gpxk glrh: the rose trellis just took off for Venus

    spugi vjtb danafnp rmgm gcve: voice from volcano say, “My name José Jiménez”  

    mrpl equvpg ylxmnr bgr frdfon: hitch old Dobbin to the shaman

     vggy swg grrun plgsyz: grapevine no good for hitting fungoes

     jdoljwl bxat gzj udsbb: seersucker same color as bilious dragon

     cnuzji rwwyndozk wecewe cayzu hyomk: stalk thing that moves like triffid

     ymjs identkyrca zoy fuddmp dudatx: toothless daughter of village mossback

     skvy woewi hldnos gojd: to ululate by fetid swamp

     kseg yctkutoc borzw pgjutl aewe fsue: official plus fours of sheep dip festival

     msj gdmr wba dumda dum dum ehik dyvm: pet turtle beat rap for malicious mischief

    lyhe siuc byvfe gdzpm ntrk sopc cody: trade tonic bottle for some enchanted evening

    nkug syvwb jfmapt waxeg hry: to gather trolls where the woodbine twineth

      So the next time someone approaches you on the street speaking in what sounds like an incomprehensible tongue, don’t just hand the person a buck and look the other way. Stop, listen thoughtfully, and if you hear “Gstpi lyjak dzami pruym wrey,” nod agreeably and say, “Not since the scaly warlock started hoarding the eclairs.” Upon hearing these words your new acquaintance will be, most likely, speechless.    

















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