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tsundoku

books bought but not read

TRANSLATION

tsundoku = Lesestoff kaufen, stapeln und nicht lesen

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“TSUNDOKU: The art of buying books and never reading them”

BBC News (29 July 2018)

Did you
know?

tsundoku
noun

- the practice of buying a lot of books and keeping them in a pile because you intend to read them but have not done so yet; also used to refer to the pile itself

The Cambridge Dictionary


WORD ORIGIN

The phrase tsundoku sensei appears in a Japanese text from 1879 satirizing a teacher who has lots of books but doesn’t read them.

The combination of tsunde “to stack things”, oku “to leave for a while”, and doku “to read” results in the Japanese-English tsundoku.


LANGUAGE-OF-ORIGIN QUIZ

Descriptive as the English language is, there are many life experiences for which there are no single words or phrases. It is here that English absorbs words from other languages.

Can you match the following 9 words to their language-of-origin?

anonymous, cartoon, cigar, cookie, guru, ketchup, loot, safari, tsundoku

(Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Sanskrit, Spanish)

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- anonymous = Greek (something or someone without a name, someone who does not reveal their identity)

- cartoon = Italian (originally a drawing on hard paper, transformed into 'a comical representation' in 1843)

- cigar = Spanish (a cylinder of dried and fermented tobacco rolled in tobacco leaves for the purpose of smoking)

- cookie = Dutch (rolled, sliced and baked sweet dough, from the Dutch term ‘Koekie’)

- guru = Sanskrit (an individual with influential leadership, exceptional knowledge, and deep, thought-provoking intelligence)

- ketchup = (in 1692 ‘Ke-stiap’ referred to a mixture of pickled fish and spices, to which, by the 1790s, tomatoes had been added)

- loot = Hindi (stolen goods or property)

- safari = Arabic (an expedition to observe animals in their natural habitat)

- tsundoku = Japanese (the art of buying books, piling them up and never reading them)


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Do you think we need a digital equivalent of TSUNDOKU?… How about ‘E-tsundoku’ or ‘tsunkindle’? ”


THANKS to Uli for suggesting today’s word.


HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

https://donorbox.org/please-become-a-friend-of-owad-3

and,

Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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