Languages are funny things and inevitably some things are probably going to get lost in translation. Some words however, are totally untranslatable and are very unique to their own dialect. You might think, well blue is azul in Spanish and 蓝色 in Chinese, so ya things get a little confusing but in the end it’s the same colour, right? Blue is translatable, but what about a word that describes a very specific feeling in a specific situation? A specific smell, taste and atmosphere all at once? Now that’s hard to translate.
We’ve got 15 of the most untranslatable words from around the world that will expand your vocabulary in all new directions.
2) Ilunga (Tshiluba): A person who is ready to forgive an abuse the first time, will tolerate it the second time but will never allow it a third time
3) Pana po’o (Hawaiian): The act of scratching your head in order to remember something
4) Schilderwald (German): A street crowded with so many signs that you become lost
5) Prozvonit (Czech): To call a mobile phone, only letting it ring once so that the other person will call you back so that you don’t have to spend money on minutes
6) Rire dans sa barbe (French): To laugh into your beard quietly while thinking about something that happened in the past
7) Tsundoku (Japanese): The act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically adding it to a pile of other unread books
8) Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist
9) Tingo (Pascuense): The act of gradually stealing all the possessions of your neighbours house by borrowing and never returning
10) Jayus (Indonesian): A joke told so badly that you can’t help but laugh
Click through the Flashcard deck below to see 5 more untranslatable words and then practice your vocabulary so you can impress your friends with all your worldly knowledge of languages.
Hopefully this gave you a cool new perspective on the power of languages and now you’re probably wondering if there are any English words that are untranslatable… Well indeed there are! Words like gobbledegook, serendipity and chuffed are difficult to define in English and even trickier to translate.
The team here at ExamTime wants to help take away any stress and show you how fun it can be to learn a language with our free fun tips, tricks and tools. Make sure to check out our TOEFL guide or start using our Flashcards, Mind Maps, Notes and Quizzes tools to practice all that new vocabulary. Make sure to sign-up for free and start taking advantage of everything we have to offer, there’s really nothing to lose!
Images sourced from Bored Panda.