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Translation Trouble – There are no words

Translation Trouble – There are no words

Every language has a collection of words that simply cannot be translated into other dialects. Some of these words have a meaning, or describe a feeling or situation, but cannot be given a ‘Literal Translation’. We picked our favourites from across the globe to share with you. We hope you enjoy!

Estrenar (Spanish)

Love that feeling of wearing something for the very first time? Yep, the Spaniards have a little phrase embodies exactly that. It can be interpreted as ‘brand new’ but is more of a feeling than a statement, something the English language can’t replicate.

Gjensynsglede (Norwegian)

We all love catching up with old friends. Well there is a Nordic word that encapsulates the pleasure of meeting with someone you haven’t seen in a long time. Again a word that expresses an emotion or feeling and one that is extremely hard to replicate in other language.

L’espirit de l’escalier (French)

Ok, so its not A word, rather a phrase, but its a good one. Ever thought “Oh I wish I’d have said that” as a witty comeback? Well the French have a phrase ready to go for just that. The literal translation is ‘escalator wit’ which I’m sure you’ll agree doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Age-otori (Japanese)

Its trim time, you go to your local barber or salon ready to get yourself looking all pruned and fresh. Well this word describes the moment you leave the hairdresser and realize you look worse than you did before. A unique summary for an experience I’m sure a lot of you have had over the years.

Brav (German)

Cultures all over the world have their own cute catchphrases or nicknames for children. In Germany they have a word that describes a niche cross-section. Those children who are pleasant and well-behaved are said to be ‘Brav’ which can be literally translated to good, honest, well-behaved, but is used more as a title for that little know group of kids who actually do as they are told. Being that well-behaved kids are so rare, this is probably one of the reasons this word is non-translatable into English.

Cafune (Portuguese)

Love it when you have your hair stroked? Well this word means exactly that, the pleasure of running one’s fingers through a loved one’s hair. Simple and a great phrase most other languages have no equivalent word for.

Tyvsmake (Norwegian)

Do you ever snack whilst making your evening meal? Or try to sneak in a few little treats whilst nobody is watching? The Nordic word for this action is ‘Tyvsmake’, a word I’m sure we could all use!

Coup de foudre (French)

We all know the French are renowned for being a romantic country. Well this phrase certainly sums that perception up. ‘Coup de foudre, which loosely translates to…love at first sight!

Engelengeduld (Dutch)

The Dutch has a complex dialect, but some of their phrases and expressions are beautiful. This example is no exception to that rule. Engelengeduld is a word used to describe a well known English phrase, the patience of an angel (saint)!

Feierabend (German)

The final word in our translation study is one we can all relate to. Imagine its Friday, you’ve had a hard week at work and have reached that part of the day, after lunch when you can almost taste the weekend. Interpreted as ‘the time of day on a Friday where we all feel happy’, this is the perfect way to end our blog and you’ve learned a new word to cheer as you skip out the door from work this weekend.

Written by : Beth Zarkhosh – Marketing Assistant

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