neljapäev, aprill 24, 2008


So I have been reading Andrus Kivirähk's Ivan Orava mälestused või helesinised mäed -- a faux memoir of a fictional elder Estonian who remembers the day when young lovers would gather at the home of President Konstantin Päts to play billiards and celebrate their honeymoons.

Even though my Estonian skills aren't up to the task, I bought a handy dictionary to help guide the way. I figured that it would be an excellent opportunity to build my vocabulary while enjoying Kivirähk's absurd humor. So, of course I was the idiot on the Tallinn-Tartu bus trying to contain my laughter as I read about Johannes Lauristin and his golden egg-laying dog. I almost wanted to turn to the button-down Estonian student beside me, her face buried in her mobile phone, and say "hey, this Kivirähk is some funny shit."

At the Lennart Meri Conference I saw Andrus' older brother, Juhan, who is something of political analyst sans absurd humor. I wanted to grab him by the arm too and talk about the tallalakkuja (bootlicking) Leopold Pakt, the imaginary third cosignatory to the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop-Pakt, but I had a feeling if there was one made-up historical figure he did not wish to discuss, it was the lipitseja (brown-noser) Leopold Pakt.

Tallalakkuja and lipitseja are indeed useful words, but some of the other ingredients in this modern-day Tammsaare's vocabulary are less useful. One such word was 'porihing.' I consulted my dictionary and even the excellent dictionary, but there was no definition. Finally, minu kallis naine informed me that it was a made-up fusion of 'pori' (dirt) and 'hing' (soul). Literally, dirtsoul.

I am unsure of what I will do with this potent Kivirähkism for the time being. But rest assured, I will make good use of porihing before the month is out!

5 kommentaari:

margus ütles ...

In Estonian it's easy to just make up words that don't sound convoluted.

Juan Manuel ütles ...

In Estonian there are tons of words I never manage to find in the dictionary. Sometimes I can't guess the nimetav form, sometimes compound words are not included in the dictionary. This year I started learning Polish and guess what? I can easily find any word.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Estonian language is better not be explained in cold logic and reason. It is supposed to be mysterious like the fog that raises from the bogs. This is how the fairires and forest spirits spoke. Thats how deep it goes. Christian efforts to represent all that bounty and imagination in a written from always fell short. Remember that. To really know estonian one must be born estonian. This is the only way to hear and understand what the forests and meadows whisper to you ... We are all pagans deep inside.

Anonüümne ütles ...

... and we know snake's words. (Kivirähk)

Unknown ütles ...

Don't take the previous comment to seriously :) Estonian is a fun language, where you can make up words just by the way you feel at the moment... we do it all the time - I invent new words for describing a scene or a feeling or a scent every day. And when I'm angry with my armas mees, I invent all kind of words for him, too :)

Andrus Kivirähk and Ivan Orav is an excellent reeding. You must read every book twice, at least, because you may have missed something.. The soviets showed Ivan Orav a vacuum cleaner - it was an awful machine, ugly and noisy. Orav said - huh, Päts had a REAL vacuum cleaner, it was small and covered with silver fur and as light as a cotton ball.. In the end of the story the soviet vacuum cleaner flew out of the window and was called "sputnik". :)