Translation work allows you to encounter many beautiful words in different languages, although some do not have an English equivalent. These foreign words are quite descriptive in their original language and if you learn what they mean, you’d wish that there are English words like them, as you know that there will always instances where they would be very fitting.
There are times when you are lost for words to express how you truly feel at that instant. English is a colorful language but sometimes it fails to express something in just one word. In many instances, you have to describe what you’re feeling, which takes several words for a person to fully comprehend what you mean. When it comes to find le mot juste (the right word), you may have to learn a foreign language or two.
Of course we all know that it is not possible to learn a language in an hour or a day, so we have compiled some beautiful words in foreign languages that describe those feelings that are difficult to explain. Although we have to warn you that they also do not have the literal equivalent in English.
In English, you’d say you binge-eat because of some personal reasons. In German, when a person gains excess weight because the individual underwent emotional overeating, they call it kummerspeck.
You are already full yet you cannot stop eating because the food is very delicious or you missed it or you simply think that you must not waste food. You might excuse yourself by saying that you were not aware that you ate everything. The Georgians’ term for it is shemomedjamo.
How many times have you experienced temporary memory loss when introducing someone? That panicky feeling is called tartle in Scottish.
Picture this. You are seated together with your friend or partner and you both realized at the same time that you need or do something and you wish the other person would volunteer to do it. So you exchanged a look but neither of you do not want to stand up and do or get it. It’s called mamihlapinatapai in the Yaghan language, spoken by the indigenous Yagán people in Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina.
Sometimes it cannot be helped that you wish you could just punch a person because of his or her attitude. In German, that feeling is called backpfeifengesicht or a face that badly needs a fist to shut him/her up.
What do you say or do when the food you bit into is still too hot to handle? You either drop the food onto your plate, purse your mouth and blow on the food inside or roll it around your mouth to cool it. Well, if you do the latter, it’s called pelinti by the Buli speakers in Ghana.
In many Asian countries, it’s a norm to be courteous and hospitable. The Thais use the term greng-jai for that feeling a person gets when they do not want another person to do something for them because it would cause them pain.
Tapping someone on the opposite shoulder lightly from behind is a common game among children. Even parents play the harmless trick on their children. While there is no specific term available for it in English, it is called mencolek in Indonesian.
In some cultures, it is all right to whistle to get the attention of a child or a dog. While some people blow air to make the whistling sound, Samoans suck the air through their pursed lips to make a sound that resembles a squeak. They call this action as faamiti.
In the Philippines, the Filipino term gigil is used to define that irresistible urge to squeeze or pinch something that looks very cute.
In Nicaragua, speakers of the Ulwa language use the term, yuputka for that eerie feeling that something is crawling over your skin when you take an evening walk in the woods.
When your teeth are chattering due to extreme rage or because it is extremely cold, the Persians’ term for it is zhaghzhagh.
When you get that feeling to literally jump out and frighten your older brother who is very annoying, it’s called vybafnout in the Czech language.
In the Swedish language, the term lagom means ”just right,” nothing more, nothing less.
Norwegians have a general term for anything that you can put into your sandwich – pålegg.
Filipinos have coined a term for someone who looks good from afar but often a disappointment when seen up close. The term is layogenic that is a combination of ”layo” that means ”far” or ”distant/distance” and ”genic” from photogenic.
In relation to the Filipino word, the Japanese term bakku-shan is a slang used to describe a woman who looks pretty when seen from behind. Seeing the person from the front is another matter.
It is irritating when you cannot find an empty seat in a popular coffee shop because of seigneur-terraces, a term French speakers use for people who occupy tales in a coffee shop from a long time yet do not order much.
You scratch your head when you want to remember something that you have forgotten, such as your keys. The term Hawaiians use for this feeling is pana po’o.
Instead of saying ”day after tomorrow,” Georgian speakers use the term zeg. It’s short and easy to remember. Incidentally, there used to be an archaic English word for this – overmorrow, which in German is übermorgen.
Have you ever experienced the time when you just gaze vacantly into space. The Japanese term for this is boketto.
L’esprit de l’escalier
You’re exchanging some heated words with someone and you want to have the last word, but somehow you were unable to do think of a good retort that would shut the other person. Later you had a L’esprit de l’escalier. It’s a French term that literally means you’ve thought of the right retort, although it’s already too late.
Some people cannot let go of a relationship that has gone south. For someone who keeps on trying to revive a relationship that will no longer work, the Italian term for it is cavoli riscaldati.
In Danish, hygge is the word that aptly describes that comfortable, genial, and pleasant feeling of sitting around a fire with your friends while the winter rages outside.
Bilita Mpash is the Bantu word when you have a truly remarkable dream.
Translation work is definitely fascinating and rewarding as you learn beautiful words every day. For accurate translation from and into over 100 languages, get in touch with our human translators at Day Translations. They are all native speakers and located around the world. Call us at 1-800-969-6853 or Contact us any time. We’re open 24/7.