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More About “Sisu”

After our conversation about sisu, the distinctively Finnish term for “intestinal fortitude,” a listener of Finnish heritage from northern Wisconsin emails to illustrate the Finns’ understanding the word. Sisu, he says, requires...

Pank and a Finnish Proverb

Frida in Marquette, Michigan, shares a proverb from her Finnish heritage that translates as “Until the food is ready, feed your guests with words.” She also asks about pank, a term she often hears there in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan...

Comparing and Arguing About Dictionaries

On the website Ask Metafilter, I answered a question about dictionaries that I want to elaborate on here. Metafilter user “Aswego” inquired: Is there some super-secret linguistics resource that sorts dictionaries by...

Name From Home

A caller from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, was puzzled when she moved there and locals asked, “What’s your name from home?” meaning, “What’s your maiden name?” The community has a strong Polish heritage and she...

heritage artist

heritage artist  n.— «The revival of ABBAmania again points to the power of visual media rather than radio to fuel a new generation’s discovery of what the industry politely calls heritage artists, which translates as singer-songwriters of...

passablanc

passablanc  adj.—Gloss: in New Orleans, being of mixed race but presenting oneself as a white person. «Ms. Broyard learned the Creole word for the way her father had lived: passablanc. To this day virtually all Creoles are related to or at...