The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren't Translatable Into English
Here are my top ten words, compiled from online collections, to describe love, desire and relationships that have no real English translation, but that capture subtle realities that even we English speakers have felt once or twice. As I came across these words I’d have the occasional epiphany: “Oh yeah! That’s what I was feeling...” Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start. Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the "binding force" that links two people together in any relationship. But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
Related: A Radical View of Chinese Characters
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