English is spoken in many countries, but the language isn’t perfect. Many words in other languages have no English equivalent; how strange is that? Recently, savvy linguists met in an online discussion to reveal their favorite native words with no precedent in English. Are you familiar with any of these words?
This German word makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. According to a native speaker, it “describes a particular feeling of being cozy, safe, and protected,” one woman explains. “How you would feel when you’re around loved ones sitting around a fire or when the person you love holds you under the warm covers when it’s raining outside.”
Gatvol is an incredibly fantastic word, tracing its roots to the Afrikaans language. Native speakers describe the term as being fed up about something but in a much more expressive sense than what English speakers are used to. In other words, If you feel gatvol, you’re about to explode in frustration!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve experienced verschlimmbessern. The German term describes a situation which you try to fix yourself but only make things worse. Where was a word like this back when I was younger? It would’ve been my motto!
The Polish language is home to some pretty unique words, one of the most notable being “kolega.” It’s a term that describes a friend who you like spending time with, whether it’s hanging out socially or just having a beer. For kolegas, there is no emotional attachment to the person; it’s someone who is strictly around for entertainment purposes!
I admire so many words found in the Spanish language. Many are direct and to the point! For example, estrenar means to use something for the first time. How cool is that? English can take a few pointers from the Spanish language; too many of our terms are general and lack specificity.
I love how the Polish language has many terms to describe different types of friends! Przyjaciel is a friend you don’t need to keep in touch with, and your relationship can remain strong. It describes someone you can call after a few years of not communicating and pick up right where you left off. I have many friends who fit this category!
One of the things I appreciate most about the Japanese language is how they have words that describe hyper-specific and breathtaking things. Komorebi is one of those terms! “It roughly translates as ‘the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees,'” explains one native Japanese speaker. “I love how some languages can describe such beautiful moments in life.”
Speaking of fantastic Japanese words, kuchisabishii is another unique term. Kuchisabishii’s closest translation is “lonely mouth.” It’s a term used to describe when a person eats not out of hunger but out of boredom! Kuchisabishii happened to me a lot in college (I regret nothing).
Some words touch my heart, such as the Portuguese word “saudade,” which has a particular somber meaning. “The first time I heard that word, it was used to describe missing a person, place, or time period that will never return,” reveals one Brazilian. “It’s used when you miss a person who is gone for good, or they’re farther than usual by distance or time.”
If you read this list to find your new favorite word, consider your mission accomplished. Backpfeifengesicht, a delightful German noun, loosely translates to “a face desperately in need of a fist.” I don’t think any other foreign word I’ve ever heard made me want to include it in my everyday vernacular so quickly!
Since I started watching The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning on Peacock, I’ve realized how wonderful the Swedish language is! Take the word “lagom,” for example. “It means not bad, not too good, but just right,” explains one speaker. “It means you have hit the sweet spot of whatever you are doing if that something is something that you shouldn’t overdo or underdo if that makes sense at all.”
It’s incredible how thoughtful other languages’ words are compared to English. Native Spanish works like “sobremesa” are hyper-specific yet are wonderfully poignant. The term describes when family and friends sit around the table talking and drinking after finishing a meal together. What an excellent little word to describe a situation many Americans are innately familiar with!
This article was initially published and syndicated by The Cents of Money.