It’s sad that the urban legend about Eskimos having googleumptillion words for snow isn’t strictly true. But if you’re a word nerd, plenty of other languages have special words that we don’t have that can enrich our lives (and vocabulary). Like “schadenfreude”. There may not be a lot of words for snow, rest assured that if it’s something you should never do with your chopsticks, the Japanese have a special word for it. Observe:
- hiroibashi (“picking up chopsticks”)
Never pass food from your chopsticks directly to another person’s chopsticks.
- kakibashi (“shoveling chopsticks”)
Never hold a bowl close to your face and rapidly shovel rice into your mouth.
- kawaribashi (“changing chopsticks”)
Never put back food you’ve already taken.
- komibashi (“stuffing chopsticks”)
Never use your chopsticks to stuff an already full mouth with even more food.
- kuwaebashi (“holding-in-mouth chopsticks”)
Never let chopsticks dangle from your mouth or close your mouth around the ends of chopsticks for longer than is absolutely necessary to eat.
- mayoibashi (“indecisive chopsticks”)
Never wave chopsticks around in the air above your food, as if wondering what to eat next.
- namidabashi (“crying chopsticks”)
Never wave wet chopsticks around so they drip soup all over.
- neburibashi (“licking chopsticks”)
Never lick or suck food off the ends of your chopsticks.
- saguribashi (“searching chopsticks”)
Never stir your chopsticks around in a dish, looking for a certain thing to eat.
- sashibashi (“stabbing chopsticks”)
Never stab food with your chopsticks, like you would with a fork.
- seseribashi (“picking chopsticks”)
Never use your chopsticks to pick your teeth.
- tatakibashi (“beating chopsticks”)
Never beat your chopsticks on the side of your bowl to demand attention.
- tontonbashi (“ton-ton chopsticks”)
Never make the tips of your chopsticks even by hitting them against the table or dishes, which makes a sound like “ton-ton.” Instead make them even by sliding them with your fingers.
- tsukitatebashi (“piercing chopsticks”)
Never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.
- utsuribashi (“capricious chopsticks”)
Never pick up one kind of food with your chopsticks only to change your mind and pick up another kind instead.
- yokobashi (“adjacent chopsticks”)
Never hold your chopsticks side by side and use them as a spoon.
- yosebashi (“drawing-near chopsticks”)
Never pull a bowl or plate closer with your chopsticks.
- watashibashi (“bridging chopsticks”)
Never rest your chopsticks across your bowl like a bridge.
Oddly enough, there are no special Japanese words for this sort of thing: