A few articles have come out recently on the topic of untranslatable words. These follow a book published in 2014 called “Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World” by Ella Frances Sanders. I have yet to read Ms. Sanders’ book but I hope to add it to the pile that looms on my bed stand.

These articles each give a long list of delicious, untranslatable words. One thing becomes clear at the outset: “untranslatable” is stretched to mean single words that require multiple words in other languages to convey their full meaning. Put another way, they lack one-to-one equivalence. Examples of these elusive words include Komorebi (the Japanese word that describes the dappled effect sunlight creates as it passes through leaves), Verschlimmbessern (a German verb that describes the act of making something worse in the process of trying to make it better), and Iktsuarpok (an Inuit word that describes the sort of anticipation that leads someone to look out the window for an approaching visitor.) There are many more examples. Here is a link for further exploration.

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