Whilst English is the world’s most used language, that doesn’t mean that every word in the English tongue has a direct translation of words found in other languages. In fact, there are lots of rich, descriptive words that have no English translation at all. For example, consider the following ten words…
1. Sobremesa (Spanish)
2. This word conveys the period of time after a meal is finished but when people are still talking and enjoying each other’s company.
3. Treppenwitz (German)
4. Have you ever had an argument with someone, and then some time afterwards thought of a smart remark that you should have said during the argument? Well, in German, Treppenwitz is the word dedicated to describing just that!
5. Lagom (Swedish)
6. Lagom is used to convey the suitable portion of a larger whole, usually used in the context of politely taking your share: not too much, but not too little either.
7. Fisselig (German)
8. Best described as, ‘being flustered to the point of incompetence’. This word is the perfect one to use when an overbearing boss is putting unnecessary pressure on you and causing you to make mistakes as a result!
9. Uffda (Swedish)
10. This word is used as an exclamation to convey sympathy for another person’s pain. It conveys a similar sentiment to saying ’I’m sorry you hurt yourself’ or ‘that looks painful’ in English.
11. Tsundoku (Japanese)
12. Do you read much? Or are you the sort of person who buys books only to leave them on the shelf unread? Well, if you’re the latter, then the word Tsundoku is used to describe the very act of leaving new books unread!
13. Pochemuchka (Russian)
14. If you’ve ever met someone who always asks questions at any given moment, then you can call them a Pochemuchka! This Russian word describes exactly that sort of person.
15. Tingo (Pascuense)
16. Don’t borrow things without returning them or you’ll soon get a reputation for stealing! On the Easter Islands, this is referred to as Tingo, which depicts slowly stealing other people’s possessions by borrowing them and not giving them back over an extended period of time.
17. Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan)
18. This word describes the look between two people who both want to begin something, yet are either reluctant or don’t know how to start. If you’ve ever had an awkward date, then perhaps Mamihlapinatapei would be an appropriate term to describe it!
19. Fernweh (German)
20. Fernweh describes the phenomenon of feeling homesick for a place that you’ve never actually visited. It’s not the same as simply longing to visit a certain location, as the word conveys a sense of feeling like you belong in a particular place.
What other words do you know of that have no English translation? Perhaps this blog post has been enlightening: have you found new words to express complex feelings or concepts? Let us know in the comments below.