More untranslatable words

Lost in Translation : An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World is a book by Ella Frances Sanders which was published last year. It is an “artistic collection of 52 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English” Here is a selection of the words:

Akihi  n. Listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting them means that you’ve gone “akihi.” Hawaiian

Iktsuarpok  n. The act of repeatedly going outside to keep checking if someone (anyone) is coming.  Inuit

Jayus n. This refers to a joke so terrible and so unfunny that you cannot help but laugh. Indonesian

Kabelsalat n. A word to describe a mess of very tangled cables, literally a “cable-salad.” German

Mamihlapinatapai n. A silent acknowledgement and understanding between two people, who are both wishing or thinking the same thing (and are both unwilling to initiate). Yaghan

Meraki  adj. Pouring yourself wholeheartedly into something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity, and love. Greek

Nunchi  n. The subtle, often unnoticed art of listening and gauging another’s mood. Korean

Poronkusema  n. The distance a reindeer can comfortably travel before taking a break.  Finnish

Razliubit v. To fall out of love, a bittersweet feeling.  Russian

Resfeber n. The restless beat of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. Swedish

Tiám n. The twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone.  Farsi

Tíma  v. Not being ready to spend time or money on a specific thing, despite being able to afford it.  Icelandic

Tsundoku n. Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.  Japanese

Ubuntu n. Essentially meaning “I find my worth in you, and you find your worth in me.” Can be (very) roughly translated as human kindness. Nguni Bantu

Ya’aburnee  n. Meaning “you bury me” a beautifully morbid declaration of one’s hope that they will die before another person, as it would be too difficult living without them.  Arabic


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