Some people call these ‘untranslatable’ words which is rarely true as everything can be translated, one way or another.
However, it often teaches you something about a culture when they have a single word or phrase for a concept that may take a sentence to explain in English. I enjoy how succinct the description is, especially when they describe something universal in the human experience, yet without a specific word for it.
I recently came across this collection of illustrated ‘untranslatable’ words taken from a book I have enjoyed dipping into numerous times over the years.
I still enjoy leafing through this book in odd moments – the only thing that I think could have improved it more would be if every word had a note about the country or language of origin .
This is one of my favourites – the contentment of being curled up with those you love and being happier than being anywhere else.
As an introvert, this is also a favourite, although I often prefer the beach, with the sound of the sea or sitting hidden in the long grass amongst the sand dunes and hills behind my childhood home.
I like this Japanese expression and the luxury of the time to daydream and become comfortable with yourself, your solitude and your feelings.
I think this one has become more and more popular in the U.K. as afternoon tea seems to be majorly back in fashion!
Who hasn’t had the experience of thinking of the perfect comeback, after the other person has walked away?
As a bookworm, this happens regularly. I also suffer from the equivalent of a book hangover where it takes me a while to come back to the real world after being immersed in another one….I wonder if there’s a word for that in any language?
Hope you enjoyed these and they make you want to seek out more beautiful intricacies of human language – please check out Ella’s book too if you get the chance! Have you got a favourite ‘untranslatable’ word from another language?
Just spotted that she has a new book out called Speaking in Tongues about fun, idiomatic expressions from around the world – that’s next on the to-be-read list then!