Whether you’re a casual traveler or a dedicated student of linguistics, it’s always important to start with a strong vocabulary base when you’re trying to learn a new language. However, anyone who’s tried to learn a language has come across a very specific phenomenon: words that just can’t be translated. Here are some of the best examples from around the world.
Even English can have plenty of confusing words, but other languages can be even more complex. For example, English has a few words to describe love and romantic relationships, but only Norwegian has “forelsket”, a word which specifically refers to the beginning stages when you begin to fall in love. Meanwhile, Japanese has a word that could be useful for guilty book lovers around the world: “tsundoku”, or the act of leaving a book unread after buying it.
Yiddish contributes another word of regret with “trepverter”, to describe a witty comeback that you only think of when it’s too late to use it. “Saudade” is even more melancholy. It’s a Portuguese word used to express longing for something you’ve lost. However, some forms of melancholy can be peaceful or nostalgic, like “waldeinsamkeit”, the German word for being in tune with nature while alone in the woods.4.2k