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  • Writer's pictureartemissakorafa

10 fun untranslatable words

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Roughly 6,500 languages are spoken in the world today, and many words and ideas get "lost in translation" due to differences in culture, grammar, and semantics.

Let's take a closer look at some untranslatable words from all over the world.

(1) Samar (سمر) – Have you ever found yourself staying up late and enjoying deep conversations with friends? That's what samar is all about. The word is derived from the Hebrew name Shamar which means “to preserve” or “to guard”.

(2) Culaccino - We all know these lightly-colored marks in the shape of rings that are usually caused by placing cold glasses, hot plates or mugs on a wooden table. Well, Italian has a word for them. “Culaccino” is derived from the Italian word “culo” (bottom) as these marks are caused by the bottoms of the glasses.

(3) AilyakAilyak is a beautiful Bulgarian term that describes the art of doing everything calmly and without pressure, while enjoying the experience. Mindfulness at its best.

(4) Ré nao (热闹) – The Chinese word ré nao is translated as “lively” or “bustling”. It usually refers to a fun and lively place that has such a powerful vibe that makes everyone want to be there.

(5) Arbejdsglæde – This Danish word can be translated as “job joy”, “job satisfaction” or “happiness at work”. It basically describes the sense of happiness, fulfilment, and satisfaction, when a person has a great job.

(6) DépaysementDépaysement (French) is a feeling of restlessness that comes up when one is away from their home country. It is often accompanied by a culture shock and the sense that one doesn't really belong.

(7) Leiliviskaja – This Estonian word describes a person who throws water on hot rocks to make more steam in a sauna. This word is the perfect example of culture and its reflection in language. Who would need a word for that in a country where it's always sunny and warm?

(8) Yakamoz - This Turkish word is used to describe the moment the moon hits the surface of the sea and gives it a special glow.

Yakamoz was voted as the most beautiful word in the world by the German Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in 2007. Among the 2500 words participating in the competition, Yakamoz took the first place. The Chinese word “hu lu” (snore) and the African Baganda tribe’s word “volongoto” (chaotic) took the second and third place respectively.

(9) Drachenfutter – This German word means “dragon food”. It describes a gift (chocolate, flowers, etc.) one might pick up for their partner on the way home to apologize after doing something hurtful or unthoughtful.

(10) Gluggaveður – This beautiful Icelandic word can be translated as “window-weather”. It describes the weather that's pleasant to look at through a window, but it's not nice to be out with.

Are there any untranslatable words in your language?

Get in touch and share all your favorite untranslatable words!

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