One of the most fascinating things about languages is the unique words in each one. Nearly every language features special words that can’t be found in other languages, enriching the linguistic diversity of the world—and making translators’ jobs incredibly difficult.
English is full of words other languages typically don’t have, especially when it comes to technology—other languages often just borrow the English word. But on the same token, English lacks a ton of interesting foreign words, such as German’s Kummerspeck (lit. “grief bacon”) and Deppenleerzeichen (lit. “idiot’s empty space”)—German is famous for its creative lexicon. Sometimes, a language’s unique vocabulary is more than just simple nouns, too—the Japanese auxiliary verb “shimau” can be appended to any verb to add the nuance of “accidentally” or “regretfully.”
It’s often shortened to simply “cha” in casual language and shoved into verbs as an infix, meaning a single syllable can completely alter the nuance of a sentence. Such unique words and features can be found in nearly every language, and in this infographic, you’ll learn 50 of the best untranslatable words from around the world.
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