Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Failure to Translate

Following is a list of words that do not have a direct (word for word) translation to English:

L’esprit de l'escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Translated it means “the spirit of the staircase.”

Waldeinsamkeit: (German) The feeling of being alone in the woods.

Meraki: (Greek) Doing something with soul, creativity, or love.

Forelsket: (Norwegian) The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.

Gheegle: (Filipino) The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.

Pochemuchka: (Russian) A person who asks a lot of questions.

Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.

Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass.

Ilunga: (Tshiluba, Congo) A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.

Saudade (sow-da-jee): (Portugese, Galician) the feeling one gets when realizing something one once had is lost and can never be had again

Sgriob: (Gaelic) The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky.


Luisinho said...

Galician word for "saudade" is "morriña", which means more or less the same, although it is specially used with places, rather than things.

An attempted definition would be "the feeling of being in a place you don't belong to and missing being in your place". It is specially used to refer to the feeling of a migrant who misses being back home.

Laura Payne said...

Luisinho - Thank you for sharing.

Rimpy said...

My wife has always had a word for the concept expressed by "gheegle": wigglies. I'm not sure how it should be spelled because this is the first time I've ever written it, but it's pronounced "wij-lees". She can't remember if she thought it up or if she got it from a friend.

There is a book along this line you might enjoy: And while I was looking for that book, I found this one that would go well with you alhpabetical list of unusual words:

Laura Payne said...

Thanks Rimpy. I will be sure to check out those books. And I love your wife's word

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