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Mildred Fave

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Stay true to yourself. Always.

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13 Dec 1996
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I may not be the most gifted and extraordinary person you’ve met in your life, but I possess one important trait – perfectionism. Whatever I do, I do it well. I’m the one who can check and double-check paper to eliminate the tiniest mistakes, and I think this trait makes me a natural born academic wrMore saduisahduiash dsau

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Published on: 08 Feb 2017 by mildredfave

When Dictionaries Don’t Help: Fun Untranslatable Words

“Language has no independent existence apart from the people who use it. It is not an end in itself.” – David Crystal

Language and the consciousness of people who use it are inseparable. We all have a lot in common – we fall in love, get angry and dream – and that’s why we are able to understand each other. There are still, however, a lot of customs, traditions and unspoken signs that we understand only within our culture. Sometimes this leads to misunderstanding, sometimes – to hilarious situations that turn up to be anecdotes we keep telling our friends. These things make us different and unite us at the same time, and to honor those differences, here’s a collection of words that reflect the fact that our differences are ingrained in the languages we speak.

1) Wabi-sabi (Japanese) – the art of finding beauty in imperfections.


2) Commuovere (Italian) – though this word is often translated as simply “moving” or “heartwarming,” it specifically means a story or a fact that has moved you to tears.


3) Kilig (Tagalog) – this word describes a special feeling of excitement and tingling in an utterly romantic situation.


4) Komorebi (Japanese) – a noun which describes the sight of sun rays shining through leaves.


5) Hiraeth (Welsh) – a distinct type of longing for your homeland or the romanticized events of the past.


6) Jayus (Indonesian) – indicates an unfunny joke or a joke told so poorly that it actually makes the listener laugh, but not at the content of the joke itself.


7) Tingo (Rescuese) – the act of gradually moving all the belongings of your neighbor into your house or room by borrowing them and never returning.


8) Mokita (Kivila) – a word that indicates well-known truth people prefer not to talk about.


9) Age-otori (Japanese) – this word describes a situation when a person looks worse after a haircut than before.


10) Culaccino (Italian) – a noun that names the wet mark left by a cold or moist glass on the surface.


11) Abbiocco (Italian) – the feeling of sleepiness after having a plentiful meal.


12) Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – the feeling of anticipation for someone to come, so you keep going outside and checking if your guests are coming. Sometimes this word is used to describe impatience.


13) Schadenfreude (German) – this word is used to denote a feeling of good when something bad happens to another person. It can be literally translated as “harm-joy,” but the source of the feeling this word conveys is rather relief than simply nastiness.


14) Omchina (Korean) – this noun can be literally translated as “mother’s best friend.” It means someone of the speaker’s age who is better at everything than the speaker, and this topic is constantly brought up in conversations by the speaker’s mother. This word is mainly used with a bad connotation.


15) Friolero (Spanish) – the word that describes intolerance to cold. It’s important to note that the characteristic isn’t negative, it’s just a neutral fact a person can tell about herself or himself, like being allergic to chocolate or lactose.


16) L’esprit d’escalier (French) – a witty response to an insult or a sarcasm that comes to mind long after the conversation is over, because one of its participants keeps rethinking the dialogue.


17) Querencia (Spanish) – a safe place where the speaker feels like home, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate the place of actual habitation, and rather denotes a feeling of comfort from a special location.


18) Litost (Czech) – an intense feeling of desperation and humiliation when someone accidentally and casually mentions their accomplishments, and you suddenly realize that everything is not that good in your own life.


19) Pana Po’o (Hawaiian) – the act of scratching your head, while trying to remember something, like where you’ve put your keys or phone.


20) Mangata (Swedish) – this word describes a road-like reflection that moonlight creates on water.


21) Aranyhid (Hungarian) – a word for naming a reflection of the sun on the surface of the ocean. This word can be literally translated as “golden bridge.”


22) Goaßgschau (Bavarian) – a minute when your eyes lose focus, and you feel too tired or too lazy to bring the focus back, so you just sit and stare at nothing. This word literally translates to “the state of goat.”


23) Gula (Spanish) – a word for a desire to eat because the product tastes very good, not because of actual hunger.


24) Schnapsidee (German) – this word denotes an ingenious plan that comes to a person’s mind when he or she is drunk.


25) Gigil (Tagalog) – an urge to pinch or squeeze hard someone you love to show the depths of your feelings.


26) Desenrascanco (Portuguese) describes an ability to artfully detach from an unpleasant situation.


27) Viraha (Hindi) – the realization of love you have for the person, which you acquire once you are separated.


28) Tsundoky (Japanese) – the act of buying a book, but never actually finding time to read it.


29) Oodal (Tamil) – the exaggerated or fake anger lovers show each other after a petty quarrel.


30) Sprezzatura (Italian) – this word describes a demeanor of seemed “carelessness,” which conceals great effort beneath it.


31) Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan) – a wordless meaningful look shared by two people who clearly display affection to each other and want to kiss, but are too afraid of rejection to do so.


32) Hyggelig (Danish) – a word that describes anything nice, warm, cozy, comfortable, etc. It can be applied to things, as well as situations, places, and even life moments.


33) Re nao (Chinese) – this word is typically translated as lively and bright, but its meaning actually extends to the point when something is so exciting everyone (and the speaker) would want to be there and participate.



About Author


Mildred Fave is a professional painter and a language enthusiast. Now she is learning Chinese, her fifth language, after English, Russian, Italian and Korean. Mildred’s second hobby is academic writing. Currently, she is training with professional essay writers (visit their site here) to improve her skills, and soon she will be able to lead her very own first writing class. 

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