January 16, 2013

Not Directly Translatable

You know those lists of words that circulate various social media websites?  The ones that supposedly don't directly translate to an English equivalent?

I personally love them.  Here are some of my favorites:

Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan): A look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.

Pena ajena (Mexican Spanish): The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.

Culacino (Italian): The water mark left on a table from a cold glass.

El sbarlusega (Italian): Literally "the shining". A Venetian word for the reflections of water on buildings or ceilings.

 But here are some other things I thought of that may or may not have words in other languages, but definitely should.

  • There should be a word for a mediocre day that follows a really great day.  It should encompass the feeling that your day was terrible even though you know it wasn't; it just couldn't live up to the euphoria of the previous day. 

  • There should be a word for that moment when you know your friend is thinking the same dirty, inappropriate thing that you are, and you have to avoid making eye contact with them so you don't start laughing.

  • There should be a word for the anxiety you feel watching nature documentaries knowing at any moment something tragic and heartbreaking is going to happen.

  • There should be a word for the warmth you feel when you remember a summer day in the middle of winter.

  • There should be a word for when you almost have yourself convinced you don't really like someone you know you shouldn't like, but actually you still do.

  • There should be a word for the effort it takes not to roll your eyes or sneer when dealing with a particularly obnoxious co-worker.

  • There should be a word for the very first sip of cold beer on a really hot day.

  • There should be a word for the way reading or listening to or looking at some things hollows you out and leaves you breathless for at least 15 seconds... oh wait... there is (well a phrase anyways).

  • There ought to be a word for standing in front of a painting and not being able to resist the urge to touch it even though you are in a museum and will definitely be thrown out if you are caught.

Now tell me some of your own.


  1. There should be a word for the smell that immediately takes you back 15 years to a certain person at a certain time like it's happening all over again.

    1. That's a good one... it's so weird when that happens. And sometimes you don't even have to actually smell the smell... I can just be walking down a hall and remember the way a place or a person smelled. So crazy!

    2. I have another, there needs to be a word that means something beyond beautiful and breath-taking and awe-inspiring. Something to encompass that feeling when looking at the absolute wonder that nature can create. I need it because I need to use it right now.

      Looking at these pics just made me tear up at the pure beauty of it all.

    3. whoawhoawhoa... those are AMAZING. This feeling definitely needs it's own word. I felt this feeling watching the episode of the Discovery Channel Planet Earth series about caves. They filmed inside of this recently discovered (rarely filmed) cave system in New Mexico called Lechuguilla. GO WATCH IT. Or just Google Lechuguilla Chandelier Ballroom.


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