Friday, April 07, 2017

Faamiti and Forelsket

It’s interesting how words evolve. A culture finds a use for something and the language creates a word. Cultures that don’t eat caviar don’t need a word for it.

And then again a particular culture might evolve a word for an action or state of mind that the rest of us didn’t even begin to think about.


That’s what I felt when I encountered Faamiti, a Samoan word for the act of making a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or a child. 

In India, there is one particular sound that is heard at crowded places almost all the time. It comes in handy when you don’t know someone’s name but you need to catch their eye, or at other times, when you do know someone’s name but don’t see why you should violate their privacy by letting everyone within shouting distance know it.

It sounds vaguely like puch-puch. For want of a better description, it sounds like a noisy kiss being blown.

Of course, I’ve never really liked this particular sound, and have hated it even more when someone has used it to catch my eye.

I don’t know if that is what the Samoans refer to as Faamiti. As I type this post, I have tried to suck air past my lips to see what kind of a sound would be generated. The sound I managed to squeak out hasn’t caught anyone’s attention, but the funny faces did. And so I abandoned the attempt, lest I be arrested for lewd conduct in a public place.

There ought to be a word for that. When you are trying out something perfectly innocent, and you are misunderstood by others.

Have you ever tried Faamiti?



On the other hand, Forelsket is a word that almost everyone on the planet has experienced at some point in their lives.

The interesting thing is that when you are in the throes of Forelsket , you think you are the only one. You can’t imagine that the tumult and joy running wild and crazy in your heart could ever have been felt by anyone else ever, in the history of the world. Nor could anyone else’s heart ever have thumped this loud.

Simply put, Forelsket is a Norwegian word that describes the euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.

You know how it is. Everything looks rosy, and beautiful. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last. The sensation passes. You can’t remain on your best behaviour all the time. Sooner or later, our Sunday best clothes must be hung up in the closet and we must wear what we feel comfortable in, even if it is well-worn.

The strongest Forelsket can’t withstand the behavioural equivalent of the Christmas lights being pulled down and stored in an old shoe box in the loft. Which is what happens to the best of beloveds.

Surely you remember your own experience of Forelsket?


12 comments:

  1. I am so glad i clicked my way to your post. Words and ideas I've never heard - or considered - marvelous ideas . . . a very good reason many of us are bloggers . . to share. You've given me a real gift today. thank you.

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    1. You are so welcome, Maggi. Do try using those words. It'll be fun.

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  2. Oh, great. So now I keep catching myself abstractedly trying to reproduce faamiti - I foresee mortification at the gym tonight!

    (I am having fun following along with this, thank you!)

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    1. Just my experience. Maybe we ought to practise before we unleash Faamiti on the general public.

      Where's a good Samoan when you need one?

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  3. Once again, great post! I wonder how you encountered these unique words! By the way, I absolutely detest Faamiti.

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    1. Oh, yes, say that again, Anjali. Having Faamiti, the Indian version, at least, directed at me drives me absolutely bonkers. It is enough to drive me to violence.

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  4. I am adding these interesting words to my diary.

    Loved them both

    Cheers


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    1. Thank you, Shalz, I hope you have fun using them.

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  5. Hi Cynthia - these are all amazing words you're coming up with - Faamiti ... I'm sure here in England we'd use a very sharp whistle ... something I can't and wouldn't do! Forelsket - yes happens to us all ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/f-is-for-feral-goats.html

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    1. Hilary, I can't whistle, and I won't Faamiti, so what do I do if I want to catch someone's eye?

      Maybe I can try sending smoke signals.

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  6. Forelsket is "that chemical reaction", I have felt it atleast a few times. So feeling *secretly* pleased right now. Heard puch puch also one too many for my liking, maybe we Indians should create a word for that!
    Celebrating 'Women & their work' all April: F for Feminist:A Voice”

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    1. Namratha, You remember your Forelsket! Apparently it is the one thing no one ever forgets.

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