Why Language is Crazy: Funny Unstranslateable Words


All languages are structured differently. However, all contain certain troublesome words for those learning language. The “untranslatables,” these words and concepts are just too difficult for other languages to explain in only one word. Take a look at some of our favorites.

Prozvonit (Czech) – to call a mobile phone and let it ring once, so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money

Drachenfutter (German) – “dragon fodder,” a type of gift German husbands bestow on their wives when they’ve stayed out late or have otherwise engaged in inappropriate behavior

Shvitzer (Yiddish) – Someone who sweats a lot, especially a nervous seducer

Tartle (Scottish) – To hesitate while introducing someone due to having forgotten his/her name

Ilunga (Southwest Congo) – a person who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense

Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – To go outside to check if anyone is coming

Mamihlapinatapai (Yagan) – The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.

Shemomedjamo (Georgian) – To continue eating food even though you’re already full, just because you like the taste of the food so much

Tingo (Pascuense) – The act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them

Myötähäpeä (Finnish) – a shared sense of shame

(image credit:myngle.com article:voxy.com)