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!
LiveTranslation is pleased to announce its new Refer a Friend feature.
Customers and registered translators are now able to recommend the site to family, friends and colleagues.
Each new customer that registers after receiving a referral will receive 25 words of free credit to test our translation services, and the registered customer that referred them will receive 10 words free credit for their successful registration.
Current users are requesting translations for a variety of texts: emails, love letters, notices about foreign property, business correspondence, customer service enquiries, website pages, marketing promotions, recipes, reports, apartments to let, product information, sayings/phrases, and even a marriage proposal!
“I was given a recommendation to use Live Translation following the advice of friends who had used various other online translation sites. Getting a price for my translation was quick and easy, and it was competitive. This service helped me add another language to a website created by my company, so I would recommend Live Translation to others.”
Matthieu – La Valette du Var, France
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I’ve recently joined the Web-Translations team as a project coordinator. I am originally from Bradford but familiar with the local area and went on to University of Manchester where I graduated in 2009 with a BA in German and Business Management.
Since graduating I have worked in a couple of different industries – finance and logistics – but always with the view to these jobs being short-term. I have been on the lookout for a role that could essentially combine my knowledge of another language with my innate passion for business, and have found a perfect match with Web-Translations. I furthermore believe I have found somewhere with the right tools to enable me to develop and to launch a successful career.
I am highly driven to achieve goals and to deliver for our customers as the business looks set to grow and expand into new markets, and what’s more, I look forward to helping other businesses do exactly the same.
Outside work I’m passionate about sport, in particular football, and have never wavered in my support of a team going through dire straits at the moment. I also love to travel and experience different cultures and meet people from different nationalities. Building on the time I spent living in Frankfurt, I travelled around Central and South America during the summer of 2010, and am certainly keen to do more of this! I got to go on the recent trip to the dmexco event in Cologne with my new colleagues Lynn and Cassandra, and am looking forward to putting my skills and newfound knowledge into practise.
I look forward to the challenge the future holds.
It’s a comment you may have heard expressed before by many native English speakers: despite possessing an interest in foreign films and a willingness to embrace their ‘quirkiness’, it sometimes feels as though you have to be “in the mood” to watch them. After watching a French film the other night and hearing my housemate make this exact comment, my thoughts consequently drifted to how world cinema seems to have rapidly gained popularity over the last ten years in the U.K. (more…)
Looking at facts and figures relating to tourism in the United Kingdom can give us an insight into why people visit the country, what they look forward to the most, and why they would return. This is very important in the world of translation, in order to offer services to industries that would benefit the most from translating their websites, brochures and menus, to name but a few.
With the Olympics coming up next year, which will attract a huge number of multilingual tourists from all over the world, this is the perfect time to look at the statistics, and determine which areas of British culture are likely to attract visiting tourists. Companies within these fields could potentially reap huge rewards from offering details of their services in the right languages so that foreign tourists can understand what is on offer, and make the most of their trip to the UK. Not to mention that upon receiving a warm welcome, and being addressed in their own language, those tourists are more likely to think highly of our culture and country in general, and potentially more likely to recommend a visit, or even to return themselves. (more…)
As schools contemplate the removal of a second language from the national curriculum, the fast approaching Olympic Games should actually be reminding us of the importance of languages.
The government’s decision to include French as a core language at the Games demonstrates the significance of languages and communication in today’s society.
With every word spoken at the games repeated in French, Great Britain will seem diverse, cultured, and prepared for the international visitors who have arrived on our doorstep to watch the games. Can we say the same about our school pupils, however? (more…)
Founded in 1999, www.wordreference.com is perhaps the internet’s leading online multilingual dictionary. It will be familiar to anyone who uses more than one language, from schoolchildren to professional translators. It offers dictionaries in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, as well as Arabic, Japanese, German, Polish, Russian, Greek, Chinese and more. But what makes it so great? (more…)
I studied International Business and Spanish at university. Why Spanish? Because I liked it, I wasn’t half bad at it and I thought it might come in handy somewhere down the line. Lucky for me, my chances of that happening are slightly raised because Spanish is the official language of 21 countries with around 400 million speakers worldwide, making it the third most widely spoken language across the globe after English and Chinese.
According to a study published last year, Spanish is the third language of international communication on the Internet.
Following my initial paragraph, that doesn’t sound out of place or surprising. However in reality, this third place position actually means that only 4% of Internet users communicate in Spanish, which corresponds to just 136 million users out of a total of 1750 million.
Obviously this figure now seems a lot lower than it should be when bearing in mind the high numbers of Spanish speakers internationally. So why the discrepancy? Many Latin American countries have low levels of access to technological developments and the study concluded by saying that if this were similar to that of English speakers then the presence of Spanish on the Internet would be around 16%. Improvements are being made though as Spanish did actually see a 1% rise.
English held the top spot in the study with 45% of Internet users’ communication and German came in at number 2 with 6%. French and Italian also figured in the top 5.
What’s really interesting to note is that English suffered a huge 29% fall, which has been attributed to the rise in the use of Chinese, Arabic and Russian on the Internet as these economies and markets develop.
So the importance of different languages on the Internet today is obvious – English can no longer be assumed to be the only language that matters, and catering for these differences will be a key issue in the success of businesses in the coming years as more and more non-English speaking users come online, and I for one, les doy la bienvenida.
Windows 7 includes over 40 new fonts which expand the script and language support the system can offer. Far from simply being a means of displaying text, different fonts can change the way we read text, and even how we feel about what we are reading.
As well as allowing much more versatility for people using languages already supported by Windows, such as Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Tamil and other Indic languages, the new fonts also expand the flexibility of the system for languages such as Khmer, Vai (a Mande language of Liberia) and Lao, giving users more options for those languages.
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