There might be a typo in that title! Did you catch it?
No, this not just a bunch of squiggles! It’s a real word, written in a real script, in a real language—one that is spoken by four million real people. We’re talking about Georgian.
That statement, of course, presumes that what you see on your computer/phone/device doesn’t consist of a bunch of boxes and question marks; it’s supposed to look like
If all you’re seeing is boxes and question marks, you need to upgrade!
Anyway, this is Georgian, as I said. Not what they speak in the state of Georgia! People speak English there (more or less). We mean the country of Georgia, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus region. Their writing system (script) is called Mkhedruli, which I also can’t pronounce. I don’t speak or read any Georgian; I learned this word from Patrick and Allison, of the wonderful Subtitle podcast. It’s pronounced Shemomachama, of course. It means “the experience of accidentally eating too much after you’re already full because you’re caught up in the deliciousness of the food,” according to Allison. Or maybe Patrick. Or both.
The BBC says that it’s pronounced Shemomechama, not Shemomachama, but who am I to judge? Georgian vowels are impenetrable, whether we’re talking about Georgia the state or Georgia the country. Some observers claim that there is a shortage of vowels—consider words like tskhvari, which could probably use another vowel or two amidst the initial cluster of five consonants (five in spelling, but only four in sound); or perhaps you’d prefer prtskvna or gvprtskvni, with even more impressive clusters.
That BBC article, as sometimes happens in cases like this, gets one thing wrong, aside from the shemomechama-versus-shemomachama controversy:
In Georgia, known for its epic feasts and toasts, people often experience shemomechama, an untranslatable word for when you are full but you continue eating anyway.
Clearly it’s not untranslatable: they’ve just translated it!
What they mean, I assume, is that it can’t be translated as a single word in English. Otherwise the article is very much worth reading, so go read it! Admit it, you’ve always want to know about the role of food in Georgia.
Categories: Food & Restaurants, Linguistics