Remember all our discussions here (here is one example) about the Eskimo's words for snow? I know people poohed pooh it, saying that we just use phrases to compensate. I found another example in the Hmong culture. In Fadiman's book, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down," she says that her Hmong dictionary lists 29 terms for opium cultivation and smoking (a major crop for them is the opium poppy), among them being the riam yeeb (knife to score the pods) and the yeeb tseeb (needle-like tool to hold the wad of opium while preparing for smoking). I guess we'd just describe those tools. BTW, few Hmongs are addicts.
According to this dictionary:
yeeb tseeb: needle, smoking needle (esp use for smoking opium)
If "riam yeeb" and "yeeb tseeb" are each one word in Hmong, then why can't "opium knife" and "smoking needle" be one word each in English? Kalleh, you say "I guess we'd just describe those tools" but that seems to be exactly what Hmong does.
By the way, Hmong has an interesting orthography. The b in yeeb and tseeb indicates a tone, and the second e indicates nasalization, so these words are pronounced something like /ʝẽ/ and /ʈʂẽ/ with high-falling tone.
Apparently, Hmong has creaky voice.This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,