For many english language speakers, it seems odd that other languages have words that can have untranslatable words. Here are some of the best.
Every language has a certain finesse you can only grasp once you really dive into it. After taking the plunge, you’ll come across many extraordinarily pretty expressions that simply don’t have the same impact in a different language.
Here are 10 of these untranslatable words, each representing the uniqueness of the culture and region they originated from. Some of them might completely sum up how you’re feeling at that moment.
Saudade – Portuguese
Are you on the lookout for a different way of capturing your feelings of nostalgia? Portuguese might help you out.
By saying saudade, we are expressing a longing for something long lost which we still hold dear. Implicitly, it goes hand in hand with knowing that these tender feelings were never mutual to begin with, leaving us with a bittersweet kind of emptiness.
Aware – Japanese
While the English language has a phonetic equivalent, the word aware means something a little different in Japan.
For the Japanese, this word is used to describe a particular type of consciousness which only comes up in moments of incredible beauty. It’s the instant in which you realise that, as the poet Robert Forst said, nothing gold can stay and that you’re barely a witness to a scene of passing brilliance.
Flâneur – French
If you were a Parisian going on a walk through the city in the middle of the 19th century, some of your countrymen might have called you a “flâneur”.
This term was only used to describe the ones who went on endless, aimless strolls around the streets of France’s capital, which seems to be a common hobby in Paris even to this day.
Pochemuchka – Russian
Do you know those people that simply ask way too many questions? In Russia, these fellows are called pochemuchka – originating from the Russian word ’почему’ which directly translates to ’why’. In this European country, this word is specifically used for curious children.
Waldeinsamkeit – German
If you ever needed a word to describe the feeling of loneliness you experience when you find yourself alone in the middle of the woods, waldeinsamkeit might be the phrase you were looking for.
This compound has, however, a dual meaning and can also be used to describe the peace and oneness with nature that arises only in these occasions of solitude.
Mamihlapinatapai – the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego
Even though it might be hard to pronounce, this South American jaw-breaker of a word represents a feeling that’s probably familiar to each and every one of us.
When we say mamihlapinatapai, we’re referring to a look that’s shared between two people without saying a word, both of which want to initiate something, but don’t want to be the one to do it first.
Shemomedjamo – Georgian
Since the holidays are quickly coming up, it might come in handy to quickly learn this Georgian expression. Shemomedjamo literally means „I accidentally ate the entire thing.“
So, the next time you can’t stop snacking on a delicious meal (even though you’ve reached your limits about half an hour ago) – you know what to say.
Cafuné – Brazilian
When they tenderly run their fingers through their loved ones hair, Brazillians simply say cafuné. It’s a universal term that can be applied to both cuddling your pet and affectionately caressing your partner or family members.
Nothing says intimacy and care as simply and elegantly as cafuné.
Duende – Spanish
Have you ever seen a work of art and simply felt…moved by it? This „magical“ power that deeply connects us to paintings, sculptures, music and literature is in the Spanish known as duende.
In certain regions of the country it’s especially connected to flamenco, but it is also used in general when talking about the heightened state of emotion brought by artistic expression.
Gökotta – Swedish
Are you a morning person? Do you like to wake up early, feeling the sun shine on your skin and listening to the chirping of birds?
If yes, then there are most likely a lot of people in Sweden who share this characteristic. So much so that they even have a special verb for it – gökotta.
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