Words that don't have translations in English

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
34,479
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#11
I'd guess many languages have words that don't translate directly into a single English word. There's a Welsh word hiraeth that some say falls into that category. It's a longing or feeling of loss thing but with a bit of poignancy thrown in.
Japanese has a word that sounds exactly equivalent, "natsukashii", which is usually somewhat loosely translated into English as "nostalgia".
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,395
Wirral
#12
Japanese has a word that sounds exactly equivalent, "natsukashii", which is usually somewhat loosely translated into English as "nostalgia".
Yes I suppose people use words differently, some people might use nostalgia in connection with, I don’t know, cars or music or whatever. Hiraeth has a deeper note to it.
 
Jul 2018
58
Gaa-waabaabiganikaag
#13
Translation or rather interpretation of an idiom from one language to another. There are numerous examples in every language. For example we have an idiom which literal translation into English is 'to make an elephant out of a fly' and its meaning is 'to exaggerate' Try to translate 'pull my leg' into your native language. Direct translation doesnt work in both cases.

EDIT: A very old joke about machine translations i heard as a teen. An English phrase 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak', translated by machine into Russian and back to English. The result 'the vodka is strong but the meat is rotten'. Another example 'Out of sight, out of mind' vs 'blind idiot'
So in Russian weak is associated with being rotten. I wonder what social implications this has.

We should make another thread for idioms, that really tickles my rotten brain.
 
Nov 2013
1,470
Serbia
#14
Мусaв (musav) - a term in Serbian we use when you get food you're eating around your mouth (e.g. chocolate, some kind of sauce, etc.). I don't think it has an equivalent in English.
 
Sep 2012
3,841
Bulgaria
#15
So in Russian weak is associated with being rotten. I wonder what social implications this has.

We should make another thread for idioms, that really tickles my rotten brain.
Not exactly. It is due to word for word direct translation done by machine without conveying the sense of the original whole. Though vodka word (spirit <-> alcohol) is too much i should say but it sounds funny. Translation is an art.
 
Oct 2015
5,222
Matosinhos Portugal
#16
The Portuguese word (Saudade) has no English translation

Meaning of Saudade.

What is Saudade:


Longing is a feeling caused by the distance or absence of something or someone. It originates in Latin, with the meaning of solitude.

It is a word that has no literal translation in many languages. Saudade is one of the words most used in love poetry, in the romantic songs of the Portuguese language. Saudade means the memory of something that happened and an intense desire to relive certain moments.

Saudade, according to the legend, appeared in the period of the discoveries and defined the solitude that the Portuguese who came to Brazil had of their land and their families. They were attacked by a melancholy for feeling so alone and distant from theirs.

the word saudade is also used in proper names, especially in feminism, for example Maria da Saudade or Margarida Silva da Saudade. Etc.Etc.
 
Jul 2018
58
Gaa-waabaabiganikaag
#19
Not exactly. It is due to word for word direct translation done by machine without conveying the sense of the original whole. Though vodka word (spirit <-> alcohol) is too much i should say but it sounds funny. Translation is an art.
Right, but its a synonym for rotten correct? This kind of leads back to the idiom thing. Like I associate the word rotten with evil, because of the idiom 'rotten to the core'. I'm just wondering what influence that has as well on how people think. Nothing you could really measure or track down.
 
Last edited:

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,395
Wirral
#20
The Portuguese word (Saudade) has no English translation

Meaning of Saudade.

What is Saudade:


Longing is a feeling caused by the distance or absence of something or someone. It originates in Latin, with the meaning of solitude.

It is a word that has no literal translation in many languages.
Sounds much like hiraeth.
 

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