https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Untranslatable words...

So I've been doing research on untranslable words( what I mean by that are words that can't be directly translated using one word into english) and thought I would share it with you...Feel free to comment or add more words...

some french words: sortable: someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed...According wiktionary through it says the definition is "sortable m, f (plural sortables) presentable"

cartonner: To hit the target

more on that here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/exquisite-pain?utm_term=.ffWbQG4y1k#.la0RBWkrA5

some spanish words: encantar Used to express charm, extreme like, and sometimes love.

anteayer The day before yesterday.

more on that here: http://www.spanishdict.com/blog/23-spanish-words-with-no-english-equivalents/

Some german words:

Fernweh: wanting to be elsewhere

Fremdschämen: describes the feeling of shame when seeing someone else in an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation.

some italian words:

Abbiocco: the drowsiness after a big meal...

Gattara: An elderly lady who cares for cats...Is there a version of this with young instead of elderly?Or masculine version?Just curious.

More in that here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/11/18/italian-words-we-dont-have-in-english_n_8280694.html

some portuguese words

Cafuné: “The act of running your fingers through someone else’s hair’.

Xodó This means significant other or love.

More here: http://www.lifehack.org/384370/9-funny-portuguese-words-that-cant-be-directly-translated-into-english

Some Russian words... недоперепил (nedoperepil) :it indicates somebody who drank more than they should and less than they could...

почемучка (pochemuchka): someone who asks a lot of many questions, often a child who keeps asking “why?”

More on that here: https://thetranssiberians.com/2016/09/09/untranslatable-russian-words/

some Dutch words:

Gedogen Turning a blind eye,

Hè hè : Depending on how you say it expresses relief at a job well done or the end to something strenuous, like an afternoon’s shopping. You sit down, take your shoes off and utter a heartfelt hè hè. If someone says (Ja) hè hè in an irritated tone it means you are stating the obvious.

More here: http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2015/02/six-dutch-words-and-one-gesture-which-are-impossible-to-translate/ I apologize for the fact I can't find that many words in dutch...

Swedish words:

Badkruka Someone who refuses to enter a body of water.

Mambo Someone who lives at home with their mother.

More on that here: http://www.thelocal.se/galleries/lifestyle/2392

some Irish words:

Aduantas: that feeling of unease or anxiety caused by being somewhere new, or by being surrounded by people you don’t know.

ladhar: The gap between your fingers or your toes

More on that here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/62243/28-brilliant-irish-words

So umm that is what I have soo far and I might make another post for untranslatable words in turkish,danish,bokmal polish,hebrew,esperanto,ukrainian,welsh,hungarian,greek,Romanian, and Swahili if I can...

Much thanks to: https://www.duolingo.com/JoThelan

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia

and https://www.duolingo.com/Knocksedan

1 year ago

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
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I think this is more like 'words that don't have a single-word translation' rather than 'untranslatable'. You've given a translation for every example. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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When I've encountered "untranslatable words", the words have been explained in a round about way, with context and description added, rather than a word = word way. This is the case, rather than a string of letters and no explanation given because one can't be given. So, I think this post is accurate. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
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Context and description are part of translation, surely? If you can define a word, regardless of how many words it takes to do so, it can be translated.

There's no rule that states 'translation = equal amount of words'. Even a nine to one ratio may not be a literal translation, but 'the feeling of joy for the misfortune of others' is still a translation of 'Schadenfreude'.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

You explained it better then I did(high fives you)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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Hope I see both sides. I think your premise is correct because there is not a one word translation for cafune, todo, or pochemuchka. However, as Mr_Eyl stated, even if it takes 9 words to explain 1 word, the one word has been 'translated'. I do think that might be the topic of a different post.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

I see both sides too

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98
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also some are untranslatable to English only, like anteayer can be translated as 1 word in many other languages

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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This might be an interesting premise for your post :) I would be extremely interested. I love finding out how each culture shows what is important to them through their language. How many words do Eskimos have for snow?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

True..But that is what I mean by untranslatable.Words that can't be directly translated using one word into english.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

thanks for your comment as I should have put that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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When I read "to hit the target" I thought of "bulls eye". I was running various scenarios in my head and noting that it was always said after the fact. But, then I realized "bulls eye" was two words and not one. :P

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Eyl
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It's bullseye, and it's one word. I thought the same thing. :)

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bullseye

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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Thank you! I typed it as one word and got a red line for some reason :P You have saved me from a lifetime of misinformation. ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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I wanted to give you an up vote but the arrow doesn't work right now. Your comment made me smile :^)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

It doesn't matter.The upvotes I mean.They don't matter to me

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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Spoken as a true lover of knowledge and the sharing of interesting facts :^)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

(Talks in a joking tone)YOU DON'T KNOW ME EVELYN!YOU DON'T KNOW ME AT ALL!(starts laughing)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

I guess it could be translated into bulls-eye.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage
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I think we could really use sortable in the English language. Though when I checked wiktionary it says the definition is "sortable m, f (plural sortables) presentable" which is the opposite of yours.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Me too.I think we need a lot of these words in english

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Ok let me look at my definition and add that right by it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage
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I wonder if they use it ironically. Maybe some native French speakers will clarify.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Me too

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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I think that would be so wonderful if native speakers would give their insights of the translations.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ryoasuka

Most of these words would be so useful in English too, it's too bad. Ironic coming from the language with enough grammar peculiarities to stretch to the moon and back.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Yes they would.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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Insightful and funny! lol

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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Hope I Love this post! Thanks for giving us such interesting and fun examples of words that can not be translated word for word into English :-)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

I am glad you like it

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DreamingOdelia
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applause, applause, applause...encore, encore! ;-)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Patience patience patience...I've got a lot to research thanks to usagiboy and you....

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

Like others have said, you have given translations so they are not untranslatable.

But here is one example from me that is truly untranslatable: The japanese particle "ga" or "wa". Both can not be directly translated as words because they just mark a noun as the subject or the sentence topic. And at this point it gets interesting: What is the difference between subject and sentence topic? Indo-european languages don't have such a distinction. Which means any translation, being through a word or a grammatical construct, would be unclear in any indo-european language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hopeisnotlost

Is interested will research more on this

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

Most teachers and a lot of books tells you the difference in a wrong way. They take the easy route and say "the subject is emphasized and the topic is not". That is often but not always true. It took me some time to find a good explanation online.

It's like this: Ask yourself if the noun is needed in the sentence or not! As you may know, speakers of Japanese tend to shorten sentences A LOT if the meaning is clear from context. The grammar allows this.

Example: "Mark drives a car".

So, is Mark the subject or the sentence topic? If "Mark" can be omitted from the sentence, then it was the sentence topic. If not, it was the subject, meaning the main information the sentence is trying to give.

There is an easy test: What question does this sentence answer?

Question: "What does Mark do?" Short answer: "drives a car." This answer works, the information is clear from context, the necessary information is given. "Mark" was the sentence topic.

Question: "Who drives a car?" Short answer: "drives a car". This answer does not make any sense. So "Mark" was the subject.

Some learners are trying to go the easy route and always mark it as subject and not topic. While doable, it would be very awkward. It would be like toanswer "Where are you going?" with "It is I that is going home!". Hmmm. Maybe it is translatable after all...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
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@Windsaw, It sounds like you have offered a translation ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xichbinichx

fernweh = wanderlust?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xichbinichx

and I'm thinking facepalm for Fremdschämen.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wolfsauge
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facepalm is more judgemental

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wolfsauge
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It's more like the opposite of homesickness (which would be Heimweh). Fernweh is a kind of longing to see faraway places. Wanderlust is also a german word meaning the desire to travel. Fremdschämen is like empathy - you feel the same shame as the one who embarrasses himself.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Paul153436
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Thanks I was just going to post this: "Tu cartonnes. Continue ta série de 400 jours en anglais." from my reverse tree daily email. I searched for 'cartonner' before I did and found your post. So I'm hitting the target! Dictionaries and google translate go for hardback and cardboard which made no sense. Merci!

2 months ago
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