By Tingo!

by wjw on October 15, 2010

MatadorNetwork has collected 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words From Around the World, in which terms like “tingo” and “saudade” require whole unwieldy sentences (if not paragraphs) to render in English.

The best part of the article is the comments section, in which many more untranslatable words are submitted.  My favorite being the Afrikaans “grillerig,” “the feeling that something creepy has just happened.”

Jean-Daniel October 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for the link. Fascinating stuff.
Some of these word can be translated into French — “Hyggelig” could be rendered as “convivial”. And, of course, there are English words that have no ready-made translation in some other languages.

Dave Bishop October 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

Colloquial (British) English is full of localised dialect words – some of which are very old. One of my favourites is the Northern English verb, to ‘mither’ (pronounced m-eye-ther) – which means to pester incessantly in a peevish manner eg. “shurrup mithering y’little git!”; translation: “be quiet and stop bothering me, child!” (by the way, ‘git’ means a foolish and annoying person). Mither can also mean bothered or worried as in, “I’m mithered to death over paying the rent!”

Foxessa October 17, 2010 at 12:09 am

When it comes to saudade, at least, you don’t need it translated. You can hear it.

Love, C.

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