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The Wonderful World of Words

Déjà vu … Doppelganger … Cliché…

We all know what these words mean. They’re pretty common terms that appear in English speech on a regular basis. In fact, they’re so ingrained in the English language that they appear in the Oxford English Dictionary. And rightly so.

But, did you know that these terms aren’t actually English? They’re actually French, German and French again. They have simply been adopted into the English language, perhaps because of their perfect meaning or perhaps because of the way they sound.  After all, you have to admit that ‘doppelganger’ is a great word to say!

There are lots of words which come from different cultures, and we could spend an eon talking about all of our favourite loan words. But we’re sure you’ll have already heard of these! Instead of telling you what you already know, therefore, we wanted to talk to you about some of our favourite words in translation that haven’t been embedded into the everyday English language yet, but certainly should be!

So, ready to learn some fantastic words? Well then, vámonos…

1. L’esprit de l’escalier

L’esprit de l’escalier is a French term used to encapsulate that feeling of thinking of the perfect reply too late. It literally means ‘staircase wit’ and it is certainly something we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives.

So, the next time you think of the perfect way to finish an argument or the perfect punch line to end your joke when lying in bed days after an event, remember this term and at least you’ll have the perfect way to describe why you’re frustrated!

2. Pana Po’o

Our next term is … wait… let me think (*scratch head to remember*)…. Pana Po’o!!!

Pana Po’o is a Hawaiian term to refer to the action of scratching one’s head in order to remember something. It’s quite a specific term, but we’re sure you all do it!

3. Tartle

Tartle is a Scottish word that not only sounds amazing but also has the best meaning. It’s a term to describe the hesitation you feel in the split second before introducing someone. The hesitation in which you realise you’ve forgotten their name!! It’s a heart stopping moment we can all agree!

4. Gigil

Imagine the scene: you’re walking down the street and you see a little puppy jumping in muddy puddles with some tiny wellington boots on. Pretty cute right? So cute that you might want to go up to the puppy and cuddle it? Well, gigil would be the word to describe this feeling.

Gigil is a Tagalog term which describes the overwhelming feeling that comes over us when we see something cute and potentially want to go squeeze it.

Puppy to represent words.

5. Aspaldiko

Our final word is a term that many of us will have experienced in recent months. It’s a Basque term that describes a joyous reunion. In other words, it embodies the euphoric feeling experienced when catching up with an old acquaintance.


We hope you have enjoyed learning some of our favourite words in translation and we hope you start to use these in your day-to-day lives!

If you fancy learning more fantastic words, be sure to follow us on twitter and keep up to date with our word of the week series. Or if you’d rather read another blog, maybe our International Translation Day blog post is a good place to start? There’s lots more to learn!

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