Saturday, 15 March 2014

Words that are not translatable

Once you are exposed to foreign vocabulary you start to learn words in other languages which are very useful and apt in a certain situation, but do not appear to translate very well to your native language. This is very frustrating when I’m writing. I constantly want to use a certain word, but then I realise there is not really a Dutch word for it…

While they make my writing a little more difficult, those un translatable words are also very fascinating. How come we don't have a word for it? With other un translatable words the question is more like; how on earth would you ever find a situation where you could use this word?

In Dutch there are also a couple of words that don't translate very well to English. Such as the word 'gezellig'. It can be used to describe that you had a pleasant time with a friend, but it can also be used when describing a room for example. When a room looks 'gezellig', it means something like cozy. Eventhough you can sort of describe what gezellig means, it doesn't precisely cover it's meaning. 

Another one is 'plaatsvervangende schaamte' [place-replacing shame] which is the shame you feel on behalf of someone else who does something embarrasing. The other person is usually unaware that he/she is doing something embarrasing.

This website posts words that are not translatable (at least not in one or two words) into English. 

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