Sunday, June 16, 2013


Any language student soon discovers that every language has a its weak points, ideas that it just can't express well. I distinctly remember being frustrated by the options for expressing 'happy' in Thai, 'use' in Serbian, and basically everything in Russian (never got very far, I guess). And it works both ways. Other languages often have words that are just so useful, but which we don't for some reason have an equivalent English phrase. I've always liked the Serbian izvoliti, roughly translated as 'here you go, go ahead, welcome, by all means', the Thai phrase same-same and the Nigerian pidgin dash which is a handy way to refer to bribes/donations that are solicited by everyone from beggars to area boys (gangs) to policemen.

Along those lines, there's one word that I just recently discovered to be missing from the English vocabulary, though I'm sure some language out there has a word for it - integriful. Integriful is basically the adjective form of integrity. A person who helps a lot is helpful. A person who acts with grace is graceful. A person who is filled with integrity is integriful. Makes sense right?

I discovered this linguistic gap when someone asked me to describe my father and I couldn't find a word to express it right. My father is full of integrity. Period. There should be a word for that.

So Dad, happy Father's Day. I'm so blessed to have you as my father and as the example that I try to live up to.

I remember when I was just a kid baby-sitting other kids and asked you if I needed to pay tax on my mini-income. And you quietly held me to a high standard - even when no one was looking. I think about how polite you always were to telemarketers (glad those days are over!) when the rest of us would just hang up on them. I've noticed how so many people talk about their concern for social justice and humanitarian causes, but none of those people give as much of their time and money as I've seen you do - whether you're visiting inmates in prison or building sanitation facilities in war torn countries or mentoring people in the community. A few years ago when you left your job (and financial security) to follow your heart and your conscience I was definitely watching. Your example has given me the courage to make difficult choices and held me accountable to practice what I preach.

Thanks for being there for me and showing me what kind of a person I want to be.

Happy Father's Day

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