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.