Words which don't exist in other languages

Feb 2011
13,599
Perambulating in St James' Park
#1
Evening tarts!


This topic is directed towards our foreign counterparts across the globe, as I am quite awful at foreign languages it is by the grace of God that many websites are written in English. This is indeed a blessing for me, tho I hear once those Chinese chaps start to industrialise properly then a few things might change, but in the meantime I think it's fair to say that the English tongue is paramount for international communication and offers a common language for all to be understood.

Which brings me to consider the question, that there are words in foreign languages that exist but have entirely no translation in English. If we do not have a word for that event are we even aware then that these events and feelings take place?

i.e. ‘Beerexpectation’- this could be a word in a foreign language to describe the exhilarating feeling of drinking a cold beer on a hot day, yet there are no words in English to describe it.

Ergo, I must ask the foreign speakers here if they might be obliged to offer a little of their linguistic expertise for this philosophical topic and enlighten the rest of us with some words of wisdom.

Are there any words in your language that have no meaning in English, if so what are they? Also, if the language and culture are rather alien to English (ie Japanese) then is there a higher probability of these nondescript words?

&c,
~EoR
 
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Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
#2
I can help you as French is my first language. There are some French words that have no meaning in English, but I will have to look.
 
Feb 2011
13,599
Perambulating in St James' Park
#3
Merci Monsieur Labienus, another interesting proposition:- I wonder if there are any Italian or Spanish words which have no meaning in French? As they are descendants (I think) of Latin they should be vaguely similar.


EoR
 

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
#4
I am speaking Italian but not so well as I am still taking courses to learn it. However, we have an Italian member here, xander.XVII, who might be able to help us.
 
Aug 2010
17,765
Central Macedonia
#6
φιλοτιμο (philotimo). There is no way on Earth to describe that word in English, without writing a whole sentence. It is a complicated term. I am puzzled as how to explain it (translate it)...
 

Rosi

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2008
6,242
#7
Off the top of my head, there's an Urdu/Persian word 'kashish' (kuh-shish) that has no corresponding word in English.

'Kashish' refers to the unsaid between a man and a woman during the initial days of their romantic attraction, or rather the romantic tension between the two. They both can feel the attraction but neither acts on it for whatever reasons, maybe because one thinks the other will reject them or are simply unsure of how to proceed. However, the chemistry is thick and palpable and the bond only strengthens with time, although not a word is spoken but somehow one just gets the other on some level. 'Unsaid' can be considered as close to 'kashish' but unsaid can be used in any kind of situation whereas the latter is used exclusively in a romantic setting.

There are plenty of other such words, they'll come to me in time.
 

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
#9
-amuse-bouche
-apéritif
-attaché (like an attaché de presse, someone who's work is to speak to the press)
-avant-garde
-bourgeois
-cliché
-déja-vu
-coup de grâce

Just to name a few.
 

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