20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world
Photo: Juan Pablo Lauriente HERE ARE A FEW instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless. 1. Toska Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. 2. Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.” 3. Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.” 4. Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” 5. Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that, “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
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