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 Post subject: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:05 pm 
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http://rudhro.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/20-awesomely-untranslatable-words-from-around-the-world/

That's a list of somebody's top 20 "awesomely untranslatable" words.
I'm partial to the Danish word hyggelig, myself, but the #1 Russian word is pretty awesome, too.


Here's a question for the polygots (or everyone?): What are some words that you have trouble translating? What do they mean?

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:14 pm 
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I can't add any, but thanks for sharing this! L’appel du vide is a really good one.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:37 pm 
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You Danes and your hyggelig. Always with the hyggelig!

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:47 pm 
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Ghost Lips wrote:
You Danes and your hyggelig. Always with the hyggelig!


I'm not even Danish and I'm partial to it. :)

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:48 pm 
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there's a nice podcast called "the world in words" that has a regular feature called "eating sideways" about phrases that are difficult to translate
http://patrickcox.wordpress.com/tag/eating-sideways/
the link doesn't make it easy to find but the eating sideways segment is usually at the end of the podcast, and they're pretty interesting. (they're on itunes)
I think it's not that they're untranslateable, being a professional translator means that you are able to explain them or communicate the idea successfully, even if not in such a succinct manner.

And about saudade being untranslatable, i think i'll barf the next time i read it. it's the feeling of nostalgia, of longing for things past, homesickness, etc. We can communicate that just fine, it's just that people love to trot out that old chestnut.

I'll have to think about tricky phrases.
One that I used to use all the time is a japanese word, "danna", which is really commonly used by younger women to refer to their husbands or boyfriends. It doesn't mean partner though, it's a historically buddhist word that refers to someone who patronizes a priest or a monastery by donating money or food or whatever; it implies an obligation to reciprocate and minister to the benefactor even if it's not really what one wants to do, or even if they're not a good person. It can be loaded although i suppose it isn't always meant in that way.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:02 pm 
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torque wrote:
And about saudade being untranslatable, i think i'll barf the next time i read it. it's the feeling of nostalgia, of longing for things past, homesickness, etc. We can communicate that just fine, it's just that people love to trot out that old chestnut.


Right. I'm a linguist and I spend a fair amount of time talking about exactly this to people I know casually.
It's the difference between having a easy, frame-appropriate word come to mind and having to spend paragraphs describing it and setting up the background just right so that the nuance comes across. The difference between a "matched" word and a description is interesting --- but you're exactly right that the ability to communicate XYZ is there, it's just a "question" of "relative" "ease".

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:03 pm 
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Pedantic Linguist Alert

These are not untranslatable words. They are all translated in that link.

True, they might all be words that more economically convey concepts than the comparable English.

But they do not name concepts that speakers of other languages are unable to understand or communicate.

/Pedantic Linguist Alert

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:03 pm 
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I really enjoyed reading this. I love it when foreign words become integrated into the English language, like schadenfraude is.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:04 pm 
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Oh. Yes. Hi.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:06 pm 
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And the book The Meaning of Tingo is really good. It's filled with all kinds of surprising, difficult to express things.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:28 pm 
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i'm pretty sure danish have a few of those words or expressions that are widely used that means the same. i know for a fact that the danish word for #11 is "skadefryd" and 20 should be "længsel".

i really like this list.


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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:33 pm 
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On topic, I really love the French word amesoeurs. When I asked, a Frenchie described its meaning to me as "like soulmates, but with a negative connotation".

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:11 pm 
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i love this! fascinating!


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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:57 pm 
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i want to play balderdash with that list of words.

i love the scottish one, tartle. i want to know if interrobang?! has ever tartled. and i want her to use it in a sentence.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:59 pm 
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allularpunk wrote:


i love the scottish one, tartle. i want to know if interrobang?! has ever tartled. and i want her to use it in a sentence.


It just sounds dirty. I love it.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:54 am 
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The English word for #9 is "ping". Duh!

I love "ya’aburnee" and "tartle", though.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:06 am 
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I like 'Bon courage' in French. It's like good luck but not exactly for matters of chance. Like, if you have an exam, they will say 'bon courage' because 'good luck' (which you can still say 'bon chance') implies that it's all a matter of luck and doesn't take into account the fact that you've studied really hard etc. It's a bit like when people say "Break a leg", "Go get 'em"...these types of things, good for lifting your spirits.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:57 am 
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9. Prozvonit

Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

I have heard many words for this in English. 'Ping', as someone said above, or some of my friends call it to 'prank' someone. I prefer 'dropcall' myself.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:04 am 
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FootFace wrote:
Pedantic Linguist Alert

These are not untranslatable words. They are all translated in that link.

True, they might all be words that more economically convey concepts than the comparable English.

But they do not name concepts that speakers of other languages are unable to understand or communicate.

/Pedantic Linguist Alert


Pedantic Disagreement Alert

But how would you ever truly know, unless you were competent in both languages? The first one in that list looks as though it has quite an approximate English translation. I suspect that when using more abstract words, noone really understands anyone.

/Pedantic Disagreement Alert

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:25 pm 
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Badgermog wrote:
9. Prozvonit

Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

I have heard many words for this in English. 'Ping', as someone said above, or some of my friends call it to 'prank' someone. I prefer 'dropcall' myself.


I've never heard that called a ping. It's drop-calling!

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Cracked did an interesting article about this a few years ago, too:

http://www.cracked.com/article_17251_10 ... needs.html

I especially appreciated the article for introducing to me the Korean word "nunchi":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunchi

Also, "backpfeifengesicht", a German word meaning "face that needs to be slapped": http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.p ... fengesicht

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Last edited by waxwolf on Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:52 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
Pedantic Linguist Alert

These are not untranslatable words. They are all translated in that link.

True, they might all be words that more economically convey concepts than the comparable English.

But they do not name concepts that speakers of other languages are unable to understand or communicate.

/Pedantic Linguist Alert


Yes, but can't we just read untranslatable as shorthand for don't have an easy one word equivalent in English.

Sure, there are people walking around thinking that the lack of a precise equivalent word or using different grammatical structures between languages means some ridiculous thing about culture*, but for most people, a list of untranslatable words is just a neat way to look at words, something most of us don't do very often.

*and they all pass through my HS Spanish classes.


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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:12 pm 
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Quote:
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com)


By "something" do they mean "sexy times"? Because I'm glad there's a word for that look...

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:39 pm 
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Friday wrote:
FootFace wrote:
Pedantic Linguist Alert

These are not untranslatable words. They are all translated in that link.

True, they might all be words that more economically convey concepts than the comparable English.

But they do not name concepts that speakers of other languages are unable to understand or communicate.

/Pedantic Linguist Alert


Yes, but can't we just read untranslatable as shorthand for don't have an easy one word equivalent...


I thought that's what I was saying.

We agree? And can therefore celebrate!

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 Post subject: Re: things you wish you could say.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:26 pm 
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Has anyone read Douglass Adam's dictionaries? They're hilarious and he gives name to so many little things that there should be words for.

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