Curiosities

Words that have no translation in other languages

Each language has its own origin:  people’s experience, culture, environmental influences … Therefore, there are words that have no literal translation in another language; this does not mean that their ideas cannot be conveyed in another tongue – it just shows how important a translator’s work is.

One of the most known is the word “saudade” in Portuguese – meaning “longing for” or “homesickness”; another Portuguese language exclusive is “cafuné”  – stroke another person’s hair.

We can find several words in the same situation around the world; some examples are:

  • Culaccino: Italian meaning the water mark left on a table surface by an ice-cold glass.
  • Fernweh: German word meaning “to long for a place where you have never been”.
  • Komorebi: In Japanese it refers to the passage of sunlight between the tree leaves, creating shadows and luminous zones on the ground.
  • Pana Po’o: Hawaiian word meaning the “act of scratching one’s head to recall something forgotten”.
  • Sobremesa: In Spanish it has a different meaning from Portuguese – it means “dessert” in Portuguese and in Spanish it means “conversation after lunch or dinner”.
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