Sunday, 27 July 2014

Words With No Direct Translation To English

Language can be beautiful yet ambiguous and elusive, and sometimes even limiting. There are some feelings, ideas, and concepts that we cannot simply describe or put into words, some of which have no direct single-word translation within the English language. The following are some of said words that I compiled from all over. If you happen to speak any of those languages and know a better definition, please let me know in the comments.

1- Komorebi (木漏れ日): A Japanese word meaning sunlight that filters through the tree leaves; the sort of scattered, dappled light effect we get to witness.

2- Nefelibata
: (lit. “cloud walker”) A Portuguese word meaning he who lives in the clouds of his imagination and dreams and does not obey the conventional; not bound by the rules to which others adhere.

3- Gökotta: A Swedish word meaning to wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first bird sing; dawn picnic intended to hear the first birdsong.

4- Shlimazl
: A Yiddish word for a chronically unlucky person; a recipient of unremitting unlucky events.

5- Iktsuarpok: An Inuit word for the frustration of waiting for someone to show up; to go outside to check if an expected visitor has arrived, over and over again.

6- Tsundoku ( 積ん読 )
: A Japanese word for the act of leaving books unread after buying them; piling them up with other unread books on shelves or floors or nightstands.

7- Backpfeifengesicht
: A German word for a face badly in need of a fist; a face that should be slapped.

8- Aware: A Japanese word for the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty; it's that “last burst of summer” feel, or the transience of early spring.

9- Hanyauku: A Rukwangali word (from Namibia) for the act of walking on tiptoes across warm sand.

10- Utepils
: A Norwegian word for sitting outside on a sunny day to enjoy a beer; the first drink of the year taken outdoors.

11- Prozvonit
: A Czech word for calling a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back, allowing to save money on minutes; deliberate missed call. 

12- Tingo
: A Pascuense word (Eastern Polynesian language spoken on the island of Rapa Nui, aka Easter Island) for the act of gradually stealing all the possessions out of a neighbour's house by borrowing and not returning; to borrow items from someone, one by one, until they have nothing left.

13- Pochemuchka [počemúčka] (почемучка): A Russian word for a person, often a child, who asks a lot of questions, probably too many; a term of endearment for a person who is asking “why?” all the time; why-boy, why-girl, why-er. The word derives from “Pochemu” (“почему”) meaning “why” in Russian. It was inspired by a well-known Russian children’s book titled Что я ви́дел Što ja vídel, What I saw which tells the story of a highly inquisitive five- or six-year-old boy who was never satisfied with the answers he got.

14- Waldeinsamkeit: A German word for the feeling of being alone in the woods, of solitude and of connectedness to nature; of being at one with it all.

If you enjoyed this, you will probably also dig the sequel: More Words With No Direct Translation To English. 


More Words With No Direct Translation To English 

Words I Made Up

Words I Made Up — The Sequel

Unusual English Words I learned Later in Life
Why Many Place Names End with ‘-Stan’

Words With Italian Origin That Are Still Used Today In Egypt

Lunacy” — Supermoon captured over Los Angeles at 1:02 am on July 12, 2014
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  1. How about "SAUDADE" a Portuguese word with no direct translation into English. Meaning the feeling of miss someone or something.

    1. It is a beautiful word. Saudade, Sehnsucht, and Hiraeth will follow in the sequel. Stay tuned.