6 Untranslatable Words From Around the World
Languages are complex and beautiful, each with their own unique set or rules that separate them from one another. So how easy is it to translate directly from one language to another? Knowing how to translate certain words from a foreign language to English can prove to be a bit challenging, especially for the ones that are considered untranslatable.
The phrase “lost in translation” is probably one you’ve heard before, but what does that really mean? Simply put, some words just can’t be translated because they represent so much more than a dictionary definition. They represent something very specific to that culture, like a particular mood, feeling, or experience.
We gathered some of our favorite untranslatable words and got our wonderful diverse and international team to explain them for you in the video below. Take a look!
Words featured in the video:
- Pochemuchka (Russian): Someone who asks too many questions
- Na-eeman (Arabic): To congratulate someone on a fresh haircut or shave
- Crapoter (French): To smoke without inhaling
- Itadakimasu (Japanese): To show appreciation to the chef and the meal
- Empalagarse (Spanish): A sickness you feel after eating too many sweets
- Kummerspeck (German): Excess weight gained from emotional eating
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Some of our other favorite untranslatable words
Fika (Swedish): A break from working, usually including a hot drink like coffee or tea.
Hiraeth (Welsh): A longing to go back to a place that has changed so much in your memory that you begin to think it cannot exist outside your imagination.
Tartle (Scottish): The moment of hesitation you have when you forget someone’s name.
Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist.
Tsundoku (Japanese): The act of leaving a book unread after you buy it, especially when it ends up piling up with other unread books.
Gattara (Italian): An old and lonely woman who devotes her life to stray cats.
Do you have any other untranslatable words you would like to share? Let us know in the comment section below.