Lost in Translation

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

Have you ever said to someone “How do you say ____ in X language?”

If you have, chances are you’ll have been met with one of three responses:
1.) “In X language you would say ____”.
2.) “Sorry, I don’t know”.
3.) “There’s actually no translation for that”.

Today I’m going to be focusing on response #3: Untranslatability.

Certain words have no one direct translation and instead depend on several words, or even full sentences, to get their meaning across. Here are 10 examples of “untranslatable” words for you:

-Schadenfreude German meaning the feeling of satisfaction derived from another person’s misfortune
-Prozvonit Czech & Slovak meaning to call a mobile phone and only let it ring once so that the other person rings you back and you don’t have to spend any of your money (sneaky, but I like it!)
-Cafuné Brazilian Portuguese meaning to tenderly run your fingers through someone’s hair
-Dépaysement French meaning the feeling (of disorientation) that comes from not being in your home country (I definitely relate to this one!)
-Saudade Portuguese meaning the nostalgic feeling of longing for someone or something that you love and which is lost
-Torschlusspanik German meaning the fear of diminishing opportunities as you age/time running out
-Razlyubit Russian meaning the feeling for someone you once loved but no longer do
-Tartle Scottish meaning to hesitate while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name (trés awkard!)
-Waldeinsamkeit German meaning the feeling of being alone in the woods
And finally, surely the cutest untranslatable word ever:
-Koi no yokan Japanese meaning the sense one can have upon first meeting another person that the two of them are going to fall in love (AWW!!)

If you know any other “untranslatable” words, then share them below (with a quick definition please!)
Until next time, tschüss! 🙂


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ahh Bra ahh bra
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 20:20:53

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.

    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!


  2. German-is-easy
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:13:51

    Prozvonit – this word is sooooooooo … uhm…handy. I wish we had that in German.
    Here is one of my favorites:


    or this:

    nachbereiten (opposite of vorbereiten) 🙂

    but… I there is like no translation for those so I can’t give one… I’m sorry


    • clairebear2013
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:57:28

      Is bespaßen kind of like to entertain someone? 🙂


      • German-is-easy
        Mar 25, 2013 @ 18:42:29

        yep, but with a subtext of that it is like job for you… like… entertaining guests at that diner party you didn’t want to do but had to for some reason or showing your parents around a weekend in the new town you’ve moved to.
        So it is to entertain people who expect you to entertain them although there is no real reason for it… if that makes any sense

      • clairebear2013
        Mar 25, 2013 @ 19:34:15

        That actually does make sense! Danke! 🙂 Isn’t it interesting to observe the connotations that certain words possess, like bespaßen! Or maybe that’s just me being a Word Nerd ^^

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