Off topic: Untranslatable Words, shows a lot about different cultures
Thread poster: wilhelmina

wilhelmina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
English to Dutch
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Dec 17, 2013

http://9gag.com/gag/ajrVP9p?ref=fb.s

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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"untranslatable words" Dec 17, 2013

Thanks for posting this.

However, I always kind of chuckle when I see these lists of "untranslatable" words followed by a translation.



[Edited at 2013-12-17 15:31 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
:) Dec 17, 2013

Wicked.



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Andrea Alvisi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
English to Italian
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The Italian one Dec 17, 2013

It's worth pointing out that 'cualaccino' is a very archaic form of 'culaccino'. I had never used/heard of the term in that meaning, but as you can see from the link below, apparently it is correct.

http://blog.americacube.us/2013/08/26/cualacino-culaccino/


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2013)
German to English
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says a lot... Dec 18, 2013

My favourite untranslatable is "Schadenfreude" - the enjoyment of other people's misfortune.
When I have had to explain it, I have always pointed out that it is characteristic of us Germans. So I had to smile at the title here.
Interesting collection

[Edited at 2013-12-18 08:18 GMT]


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wilhelmina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
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TOPIC STARTER
UBUNTU Dec 18, 2013

Recently, my favorite word is Ubuntu, a Nguni Bantu term roughly translated as "human kindness" but that just scratches the surface. There are many ways in which the term has been defined, I especially like "I am because we are". I view it as the opposite of Western individualism for which -and I find this very revealing- we don't even have a good opposite term in English (or Dutch, my native language). Communism or socialism many will say, but I beg to differ with that. Dictionaries don't offer us a lot of help either: commonality, commonness, collectivity, why so negative and limiting?
In contrast, Ubuntu is a concept as multifaceted as our concept of individualism. I hope it will one day be known around the world as the opposite of individualism. And no translations of it either; if we haven't been able come up with a good term for the opposite of individualism yet, we don't deserve to give it a Western Johnny-come-lately-twist. Besides, I love the sound of it; Ubuntu sounds powerful and anchored.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Thank you wilhelmina Dec 18, 2013

wilhelmina - thank you for this interesting post. Until today I thought Ubuntu was a computer operating system... (slaps forehead with hand)

My own favourite untranslatable word is the Classical Greek AGAPE, which may in fact have something to do with UBUNTU !!!! AGAPE has many interpretations, many of them seemingly corrupted by Christianity. My own preferred meaning is "love for all mankind".

There's also a word in Italian that expresses a concept which does not exist in Anglosaxon culture: "SIMPATIA" - something I miss very much, living in London

I suppose you could translate SIMPATIA as "a spontaneous, conspiratorial, intelligent, human, emotional, intellectual closeness that puts you and a stranger on the same wavelength without needing any formalities" - but that would take a long time

[Edited at 2013-12-18 12:02 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
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Simpatia Dec 18, 2013

Sounds like empathy to me!

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not really Dec 18, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

Sounds like empathy to me!


Not really Phil. To my mind, empathy has something ponderous and "nineteenth-century drawing-room" about it. Or Freudian. "Simpatia" is easy, classless, and fun. Without it, life is hard work, as it is all too often is among these English, who do not know what it is, have never experienced it, have no conception of what it is, and would no doubt try terribly hard to do it.

And have no word for it.



[Edited at 2013-12-18 16:06 GMT]


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