Words without translation but with original meanings

Words without translation. Words that cannot be translated. Untranslatable. Or for which there is no equivalent word in another language. We can define them. But do not associate them with another in our language. And it is that translating words, or interpreting them, is not so simple. In the process shades are lostthe double meaning.

Various examples. Ubuntu, from the African Zulu language. Popularized by the Linux distribution of the same name, it means something like “humanity towards others”. Respect, take care of others”. To dowith what word Could Castilian be associated without losing the nuances evoked by this single word? Another example. Iktsuarpok, Inuit. It is used to name “the feeling of anticipation that makes you keep looking outside to see if someone is coming”. Do we have an equivalent word in Spanish?

There are many other examples. And of course, in our language there are also words without translation. Some are so obvious to us that we forget that in other languages ​​they have no equivalence and must be defined with several words. How to “unveil” Marker pen translates it by the expressions “to be unable to sleep” Is “not being able to sleepbut there isn’t a single word that captures the same meaning. More examples in Spanish of words without translation: early morning, friolero, chingada (very typical of Mexico), consuegro, nauseating or mandilón (popular in Colombia).

The house of words without translation

Where to collect words without translation? There are books on this subject. One of the best known is called lost in translation, “Lost in translation”. It was one of the most read according to the list he made New York Times. Its author is the English Ella Frances Sanders, writer and accidental illustrator. Another similar book is Other-verbal, by Kelsey Garrity-Riley. Also illustrated, it brings together curious words from different parts of the globe and attempts to define them through illustrations.

On the internet there are also many untranslatable word lists. A compilation of these is available at Eunoia, a site created in just 24 hours and powered by suggestions from anyone with an untranslatable word. Its author is Steph Smith, who defines herself professionally as “growth marketer, freelance writer and creator”.

And among his projects, this curious page that collects words without translation. More than 500 words For now, and growing. untranslatable words in more than 70 languages such as Spanish, German, English, Greek, Galician, Chinese or other more exotic or unknown to most such as Yiddish, Swahili, Tamil or Welsh.

you can verify Eunoia in all serenity. It has no ads and is very simple. In addition to the default list of recently added words, you can search for a specific word or filter results by language or tag. Each word is defined in Englishindicates which language it comes from and includes audio to know how it is pronounced.

The beauty of untranslatable words

Interestingly, the word Eunoia which gives its name to this compilation is also an untranslatable word. It comes from ancient Greek. Steph Smith, responsible for the page that gives rise to this article, defines it as “a healthy spirit or a beautiful thought”. Literal translation, “a sound mind or a beautiful thought.” But there is not a single word grasp its full meaning. It’s more. Wikipedia only has entries for this word in English, Swedish, and Tagalog. And its definition is “the benevolence that a speaker cultivates between himself and his audience”.