There is a snopes-confirmed apocryphal story that former US President George W. Bush commented to then British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the problem with the French "… is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur". As much as I would like to think it's true, it happens not to be.

However, that's doesn't stop us from having fun with a bit of word-play. I would like to come up with as many of these as possible, and I am looking for donations: How many "The X can't Y: they have no word for Z" are there out there? I'd say there're thousands. I'm going to kick it off here, and anyone who wants to leave a sample or a few, please do so as comments, and I'll add them to the post.

If you want credit, send me an e-mail at the address at the bottom of this post. Rules are:

  • The format should be "The X can't Y: they have no Z" or "The X don't know how to Y: they have no word for Z", or something equally simple.
  • Any non-english-speaking nationality can be referenced, but the word used for Z must be in common use in English
  • If I gather 1000 or more, I'll see if a publisher can't be persuaded to publish the list in a book. At the moment, I am thinking of having the proceeds donated to a charitable organisation.
  • I'm the arbiter of these rules
  • I can add or change rules at any time.

The list

  1. Éibhear, 2009-08-30 – The French can't arrange meetings: they have no word for rendezvous.
  2. Éibhear, 2009-08-30 – The French can't have meals out: they have no word for restaurant.
  3. Éibhear, 2009-08-30 – The Czechs can't make mechanical men: they have no word for robot.

For anyone who wants credit other than their name on the list, please send me an e-mail, and I will take note of it. My address is: REDACTED