It’s International Translation Day! The perfect opportunity to celebrate all things translation.
Although translation might just seem like the simple transfer of written content from one language to another (the ‘source language’ into the ‘target language’), translation can be quite an intricate process. For example, what do you do when the word in the source language doesn’t exist in the target language?
Maybe it’s a noun for a German object that doesn’t exist in the United Kingdom. Or maybe it’s a Spanish verb that refers to a quintessentially Spanish action!
To give you a taste of these words, we’ve collated some of our favourite untranslatable terms below …
Morriña is a Galician noun which represents a feeling of nostalgia. But this isn’t simply any nostalgia, this is a nostalgia for the vibrant green hills and the deep blue sea: it’s nostalgia for Galicia itself.
Put simply, it’s used to describe that deep homesickness that the Galician people feel when they are away from their homeland. Quite poetic isn’t it?
Peiskos is a Norwegian noun that embodies the act of sitting in front of a fire and having a good time. It’s an ambient mood that embodies a warm and peaceful sort of calm.
If we were to break it down, we would see that ‘Peis’ means fireplace, and ‘kos’ can mean to have a good time, and to cuddle.
S’entendre is a French verb that describes getting along with someone because you think in the same way. It’s the perfect term to use if you and your best friend are on the exact same wavelength.
Pаспутица is a Russian word that doesn’t have an English translation because it describes something that doesn’t exist in English. It refers to a season of bad roads. Specifically, it describes a period during Spring and Autumn where the weather is so bad that unpaved roads are practically impossible to drive on.
It comes from the root ‘путь’ which means ‘road’ and the prefix ‘pac’ which is similar to the English ‘dis’. You can see how a literal translation may cause confusion. ‘Disroad’ is pretty nonsensical.
Zugzwang is a German noun which describes a situation in which you are obliged to make a strategic decision. Furthermore, this decision is likely to be quite stressful.
It was originally used to describe the feeling that chess players felt when trying to make a move. However, now it is used to simply refer to any decision that must be made.
As you can see, translation is no easy feat! That’s why it’s vital that you work with native, specialised and experienced linguists.
We at Web-Translations feel very lucky to work in an industry full of talented and creative individuals, and we just wanted to say thank you to all the amazing linguists who work with us. You are very much appreciated!
What are your favourite untranslatable words? Get in touch via Twitter to share your top picks!
30 September 2021 15:37