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Untranslatable words in your language

A current discussion on whether you can fully translate ideas from one language to another has led me to wonder about this:

Are there words in your language which can't really be translated?

My suggestion for English is 'cosy' (or cozy in US.E)

If you describe a room as cosy, it means small but also warm, comfortable and friendly. I've never been able to find a single word in another language which simultaneously translates all of those concepts.


Any other offers?



10 de Jan de 2015 às 19:30
Comments · 39

Living in the Veneto region of Italy, I've come across some words in the local dialect which I can't think of equivalents for in any other language:

"freschin" = a certain peculiar smell, as exemplified by the odour laundry acquires when you leave it out overnight, or the smell raw egg leaves on dishes.

"ligare" = literally "to tie", but also used to describe the sensation which certain astringent foods, such as persimmons, leave in the mouth.

10 de Janeiro de 2015

In Chinese, 嗄嗄叫, 嘎嘎叫 or 呱呱叫, the phrase I recently found in an essay written by an Chinese learner but American English speaker, can hardly been translated into English.

嗄嗄 means hoarse; 嘎嘎 means sound of smiling; 呱呱 means the cries of an infant; while 嗄嗄叫, 嘎嘎叫 and 呱呱叫 mean very good. 

May I ask if there is any word in English both describing a kind of sound and meaning "very good" at the same time?

31 de Março de 2015

So many ways of saying rice in the filipino language: 

palay - unhusked rice / rice plant

bigas – uncooked rice

kanin - cooked rice

lugaw - rice porridge

tutong - burned rice (sticking to the bottom of the pot)

bahaw: cold left over rice

sinangag - fried rice



12 de Janeiro de 2015

Here is another French word : " dépaysement" .

When there is a change of scenery you have this strange feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country ... the meaning of this word is evident through the movie "Lost in translation".

Moreover this word is frequently described in literature and poetry of many cultures.

11 de Janeiro de 2015

Some more Irish words:

Stadhan = a flock of birds flying about above a shoal of fish (it lets the fisherman know that there are fish below)

Clabán = a choppy patch in the sea


@Carmelo: Grazie, a jero drio spetarte. A go dito ben, ałora.

10 de Janeiro de 2015
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