Most of these words don't have a 1 word equivalent in English but the full range of meaning can be easily captured with a short definition.
Yiddish has good examples where words actually do not translate easily. EG, schmendrick and schmuck both translate as "a fool", but have distinct shades of meaning that aren't trivially explained. "Nu" is an interjection that has several specific meanings that require long examples to explain, EG: https://forward.com/culture/12736/just-say-nu-01335/
If you like that kind of stuff I highly recommend The Joys Of Yiddish https://www.amazon.com/Joys-Yiddish-Leo-Rosten-1968-06-23/dp...Reply
I’m always wary of these lists, because if you search for the languages you know you always see that most of them are actually translatable and/or rare expressions that nobody uses.Reply
Interesting, but the premise is nonsense. Obviously these phrases and words do translate. They are translated on the page, into English.Reply
Is this for words or expressions? Clicking through a few, it seems both. I'm not sure it's fair to say phrases don't translate...they just aren't used word for word. I think single words that have no single word translation in other languages is far more fascinating. Like say, Schadenfreude.Reply
Was interesting reading through the Swedish part because a lot of them were easily translatable into English or just straight up sentences.
The only ones I didn't know how to translate into English could likely be translated into another language.
Would be interested to now if anyone else here knows a proper translation for:
"Orka": closest I can think of is "can't be bothered". British English does have "arsed", but it is far too informal and can't be used on its own.
"Vabba": "Skipping work to watch your kid" and as the reddit thread for it says, if it had a straight translation it would be "CoCing" which wouldn't appropriate.Reply
Midly related: John Koenig recently released a book called "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows"--a continuation of the amazing homonymonous YouTube channel--which contains new words he created to describe emotions. Personally, I strongly recommend it to all those that love languages and would love to explore more about themselves! Being able to put a name to some emotions is very empowering.Reply
Some non-English languages are importing English words/phrases when the English one represents an idea that it's a bit more complicated to express in the non-English language. I'm not talking about technical terms.
Random example: "work/life balance"Reply
Just because a word doesn't have a 1-to-1 correlation with a word in another language doesn't mean it's not translatable; in fact, this website shows that they are translatable. Even more, it's not analytically true that any word in one language shares a perfect mapping with a word in another language. This is evident when you translate a word into another language and back into the native language and find yourself with a different (albeit perhaps related) word.
W.V.O. Quine made some remarkable points about translation , although not all philosophers (cf. John Searle) agree that the scenarios he suggested are as problematic as he contended.Reply
This is actually a pretty awesome resource! It was pretty interesting to see "-ish" on there. It never occurred to me that there's likely not an exact equivalent to "-ish" in other languages.Reply
I was surprised that the Turkish “huzun” was omitted. As I understand it, from reading Orhan Pamuk, for an Istanbouli it essentially means the despair of living in a city that was for more than a millennia the capital of the world and never again will achieve those heights.Reply
I'm not sure how English "tall" would be considered untranslatable/hard to translate.Reply
As a parent, I think I may start using the word "gyakugire" regularly.Reply
"There's not an English word for that" comes up when discussing the flavours and smells of regional cuisines. Makes sense. Examples: "the fifth taste" (umami in Japanese or xiān in Mandarin, which sort of maps to "savoury" in English but not quite), or the "numbing spicy" effect of Sichuan peppers (málà in Mandarin).
My question: Is there an English word for the effect one experiences when consuming wasabi or horseradish?
The chemical responsible is isothiocyanate. It's not capsaicin which is what makes peppers hot, so the Scoville Scale doesn't apply to the pain of horseradish. BTW, sichuan peppers aren't capsaicin based either and they share something with some African spices that also chemically numb the tongue, but that's also not what's going on in horseradish or (true) wasabi.
Anyways, words in the ballpark are spicy or hot or painful or pungent but those seem a bit ambiguous. IMO, pungent doesn't satisfy because while it captures the sharp smell it seems to ignore the pain or heat of the experience. And spicy or hot in English strongly suggest the effect of peppers IMO, which can be misleading if you are describing horseradish.
Failing English, I'd love to know a Japanese or Mandarin word for this!Reply
Main one missing from Norwegian is “harry” in my view.
It means. Ehm.. not cool, specifically in a sort of crass/low brow kind of way. Like I said, hard to explain.Reply
I don't know what I'm missing, but looking at the 53 English words I'm not seeing anything that can't be translated.
"Tall", "You're welcome". I'm sorry what?Reply
>Getting mad at somebody because they got mad at you for something you did.
Contestar in Spanish, in a second acception.Reply
>Ish - a suffix that softens the exactness of an adjective.
Spanish -eico, -izo...
>Paragrafryttare. A person who follows written rules to such a degree that they're seen as rigid and inflexible.
>Cornuto. To have horns, meaning that you (or a particular person) has been cheated on by their spouse or significant other.
Same in Spanish, cornudo.
>A pop song released around spring that gets overplayed during the summer. Swedish By frobar Go to the reddit thread Disagree
Canción del verano.Reply
>Concepts in _____ That are difficult to easily and directly translate to other languages.
Other languages, or English? Because I can definitely come up with some non-English translations to some of the words here. For example, "Haju" and "Tuoksu" in Finnish are "臭い" and "匂い" in Japanese. Swedish "mellandagarna" is also pretty much word-for-word "välipäivät" in Finnish.Reply
I've spoken English for years, but mostly online with foreign people or when abroad myself.
But recently I started working a place here in Norway where all communication is in English. Speaking English but often in a Norwegian context, have made me sometimes grasp for these kind of words. Like "romjul" when trying to ask who is gonna be oncall this christmas. Or asking if people are going to "Syden" during their summer holidays.
Syden is not on the page, but is generally when you travel south (italy, spain, greece) to lie on a beach and drink cheap alcohol.Reply
As of writing this, 53 Interesting Words in English That Don't Translate... "pearl-clutching" English speaker and I never heard this. If pearl-clutching counts, there's a million more words on Urban Dictionary I'm sureReply
The list is not actively maintained in any way. I immediately found a rather offensive term with the description of a job title, when in reality it just being an offensive slur. Three comments mention that. The entry (from 2017) is unchanged to this day.
I don’t see the point of such a site.Reply
(This was inspired by the Danish TV series Borgen)
Q: What's the Danish expression for "spin doctor"?
A: Spin doctorReply
You may also enjoy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_as_She_Is_Spoke in which it translates, but not particularly well.Reply
TIL there's no English word for "to speak among Esperantists in a language besides Esperanto", although I'm not sure one is needed either.Reply
I think that 'Fika' is an interesting one. In Spanish, or at least in Spain, 'to go for a coffee' implies the same things that 'fika' does. Nobody expects to buy coffee to drink at the office, or at home, as to talk and socialize is more important than the coffee itself.
I guess that in English speaking countries it could mean literally to go to buy a cup of coffee and hurry back with the coffee to your desk. Wouldn't 'to for a beer' have the same implications, maybe with more noise, than fika but with beer instead of coffee and cookies?Reply