Recently I was sent a link to an infographic containing some apparently untranslatable words for love, and this got me wondering if there really is such a thing as an ‘untranslatable’ word or concept.
The words featured in lists of ‘untranslatable’ words are often given poetic-sounding meanings, and other more ordinary and common meanings they have are ignored.
In some languages a single word might represent a meaning that translates as a phrase in other languages, and there are some culture concepts which can be hard to translate – that is the words themselves can be translated but the meanings they represent might be specific to a particular culture.
The Dutch word gezelligheid (“the warmth of being with loved ones”), is an example from the infographic, which has an equivalent in German: geborgenheit, so it isn’t completely untranslatable.
Are there any words in languages you know that you believe to be untranslatable?