Friday, December 17, 2010

List: '‘20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World’

Today’s ‘List Friday’. In Hebrew, the word for ‘Hebrew’ is Ivrit and the word for ‘easy’ (or ‘light’) is kal. In Hebrew the adjective follows the noun. So ‘easy Hebrew’ is Ivrit kala. Which is my standard of Hebrew. And this, with English and a smattering of Latin [1] is, dear readers, the full extent of my meagre linguistic expertise. I envy people who are fluent in two languages. And the more languages they’re fluent in, the greener my envy is. But for practical purposes I’m stuck with English. It could be worse. My only fluent language could be Yagán – which is spoken by only one person on Earth [2]. (I’d be the second one. What conversations I’d have with my buddy.) English’s the language with the third-highest number of first-language speakers [3]. But even so, it has its limitations. English doesn’t have a single word for some concepts or situations, yet other languages do. Today’s list, from matadornetwork.com, is titled ‘20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World’ [4]. The list’s fascinating. And so is its preamble: ‘There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naïve’. Actually it can. And as the list’s explanations show, it does. But just not with a single word. Ho hum.
H/t darling Meg for sending
me today’s list.

1 comment:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Excellent list of words Farmdoc, thank you Meg.

Finally aword for that which Sel and I find ourselves doing Definitely we both Tartle with increasing frequency.

Toska is a pleasant replacement for mild depression and then untreated one plunges ito litost;

The only one I will probably remember is Tartle because it is an everyday occurence, yesterday ihad a close call with toska, but it was not really as I was feverish and achey, so that really doesn't count.