This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Words that don't exist in the English Language

A few months ago I blogged about French words that have no direct English translation.  And well, here's round two of a similar theme.  Except these ones are even more amusing, and come from all sorts of different languages.  I've always found this type of study fascinating, because the fact that there is a word to describe a very specific situation in a certain language signifies that the situation in question is either valued, very common, or very rare.  Basically, why would you have a word for something that (a) never happened, or (b) didn't matter?  

If you've read one of my earlier posts today, this logic would lead you to believe that the Germans value lippenflattern --  the act of "chattering one's lips."  :)

Anyways, take a look....

L’esprit de escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Translated it means “the spirit of the staircase.”
Waldeinsamkeit: (German) The feeling of being alone in the woods.
Meraki: (Greek) Doing something with soul, creativity, or love.
Forelsket: (Norwegian) The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.
Gheegle: (Filipino) The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.
Pochemuchka: (Russian) A person who asks a lot of questions.
Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.
Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass.
Ilunga: (Tshiluba, Congo) A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.
saudade (sow-da-jee) (Portugese, Galician) the feeling one gets when realizing something one once had is lost and can never be had again
Sgriobn: (Gaelic) The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky.

I'm betting it's only going to take a few days in Russia before I'm pegged as a pochemuchka.


  1. I love 'gheegle'. Is it pronounced like giggle, but with a a double ee, like gee-gull? Wonderful.

  2. Oh wait---would Twitter-pated be considered be the english word synonmous for Forelsket? Just wondering haha

  3. Jimmy - I think you've got it :)

    Rachel - yes!

  4. A few of my favorites:
    Asatte (Japanese) - The day after tomorrow
    Ototoi/Ototsui (Japanese) - The day before yesterday

  5. Dear Anonymous,
    Thanks for sharing!


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