Country: Malaysia


Lost In Translation: Words And Phrases In Other Languages

November 23, 2012

As an English major, it is no secret that I absolutely love words. I love everything about them—from learning new ones to learning entirely new languages. On my travels, I wholly enjoyed exploring both the lands that I was visiting and their unique languages. Often, however, these new languages had not just words that corresponded to those in English, but also those that were difficult—or almost impossible—to define.

Some of them are pretty awesome, so I'll give you some of my list of words that I've found and their rough meanings. Some of these I've encountered personally, and some of them I have heard about from other travelers.

Lost in Translation - Volunteer Global

~Pelinti: To move around hot food inside your mouth. (Buli)

~Kilkanascie: Meaning a number between 11 and 19. This word relates to our use of “dozen” to mean a number more than a few but less than a lot. (Polish)

~Mai pen rai: Roughly meaning that it doesn't matter. This is commonly used as a retort after being thanked to express kind feelings. This phrase can also be used to try and relax someone who is tense. (Thai)

~Che: A word that, although it has no meaning in itself, is used to show that a person has something to say. It is used the way many Americans use the word, “hey,” and is helpful during discussions among many people. (Spanish)

~Razbliuto: The sentimental feeling one has over a past lover. (Russian)

~Jayus: A joke told so poorly that one laughs at it anyway (Indonesian)

~Ya'aburnee: Although this concept is a bit morbid, the word roughly translates to mean, “I hope you bury me as I cannot live without you.” Sweet, in a way! (Arabic)

~Culacino: The mark left by a wet glass on a table. (Italian)

~Istories me arkoudes: This phrase literally means “stories with bears” and refers to stories that are so overblown that it seems that they couldn't be true. (Greek)

~Koyaanisqatsi: Meaning a way of life that is out of balance, or else “nature out of balance.” (Hopi)

~Vovohe Tahtsenaotse: To prepare to speak by licking your lips. (Cheyenne)

~Latah: An uncontrollable habit of saying something embarrassing. (Indonesian)

~Karelu: The mark left on skin because of tight clothes. (Tulu Indian)

~Ahimsa: A way of life that avoids the killing of creatures or any form of violence. (Sanskrit)

Lost in Translation - Volunteer Global - image by pellesten, CC attribution

~Suaimhneas crio: A feeling of great happiness and peace after a task has been completed and there is nothing left to do. I think I would generally use this after Finals week. (Irish)

~Pisan Zapra: Literally, the amount of time needed to finish eating a banana. (Malay)

~L'esprit de l'escalier: Describes when you think of the right comeback too late. Another word for this is the Yiddish “trepverter.” (French)

~Cwtch: A hug, cuddle, or safe hiding place. The word has many uses, all of them dealing somehow with a feeling of cozy safeness. (Welsh)

~Desenrascanco: The art of finding a solution to a problem at the last minute, with no advanced planning or resources. (Portuguese)

~Retrouvailles: The joy after meeting someone you haven't seen for a long time. (French)

~Verstehen: Putting yourself in someone else's shoes in order to better understand them. (German)

~Gezellig: A warm, cozy feeling of connectedness to the ones you are with at the moment. (Dutch)

So, what about your words? Anything that you've encountered in your travels? 

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