Today I want to share with you two new words that I didn’t even know I needed.
The first of these is Pelinti Bula, from Ghana. It’s a word that describes the instinctive, involuntary action we end up doing when we inadvertently eat something piping hot.
The hot dance that our mouth responds with, the one in which we move the hot food around in our mouth in a desperate attempt to cool it before swallowing, while shouting “Ooooohhhh” and “Aaaahhhhhh,” that is Pelinti Bula, at its finest.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to learn this word.
I have never been sensible enough to check the temperature of food before lobbing it into my mouth like a grenade. And like a grenade, it bursts.
And then I do the Pelinti Bula, tossing the food from side to side, hoping it will cool, when all it does is burn this side of my mouth first, and then the other, while scalding my tongue, and rendering it incapable of tasting anything for the next seven hours. At least.
It’s like walking barefoot on hot sand. You hop about from one foot to another, hoping the ordeal will be over.
Have you ever had to resort to Pelinti Bula?
The second word that is integral to my personality comes to us, courtesy the Finns. The word is Pilkunnussija, Finnish for a person who pays exceptional and unnecessary attention to detail.
I’m a complete Pilkunnussija when it comes to grammar. I’m always editing other people’s writing, in my mind.
But it was only a few months ago that I learned just how far I was taking my obsession with grammar.
La Niña and El Niño were playing with each other. Suddenly they started fighting, slapping and pinching each other. I quickly ran towards them and pulled them apart.
Unable to vent out their anger physically, they began to point fingers at each other.
“He started it,” said La Niña.
“No, Mamma, she bate me first, then I bate her.”
Now any sensible mother would have tried to calm her kids down. But Pilkunnussija can hardly be credited with sense.
So this Mamma said to her five-year-old son, “No, darling, that’s not the right thing to say. The past tense of eat is ate, but the past tense of beat is not bate. It is still beat. And the past tense of the word, meet, is met. Understood?”
El Niño nodded, clearly pleased that his behaviour was not being discussed any more.
I looked up, and saw La Niña, with a disbelieving look on her face. “I don’t believe it, Mamma,” she said. “Instead of scolding him and correcting his behaviour, you are correcting his grammar.”
That was when it hit me. The intensity of my Pilkunnussija.
Have you ever acted like a Pilkunnussija?