As you will undoubtedly know by now, I am a self confessed language lover and word nerd. Anytime I see a book relating to languages I can’t resist it. This has resulted in the rule that I am no longer allowed to buy any more books until I finish all the ones I already own. Much to my fiancèe’s horror I rarely keep to this rule and always find a dusty book hidden in a corner that I just can’t refuse. It is amazing how many books you can find when you go looking. I have chosen one such book to tell you all about this week.
Lost in Translation
This book is a little special, as it isn’t your typical language reference book. It is a compendium of untranslatable words from around the world. I find the category of unique language absolutely fascinating! The fact that certain countries and cultures create special words amazes me. It is a true reflection of a culture and people that need to express a very different concept to anywhere else in the world.
The languages it covers range from Norwegian and Russian to Icelandic and Yaghan. Each word comes with a short explanation and an drawing to illustrate the concept. It is a beautiful book to look at and even more fascinating to read. I have picked out some of my particular favourites for you that I wish we had in English.
Icelandic – Tíma – Not being ready to spend time or money on a specific thing, despite being able to afford it.
I am a bit of a “cheap skate”, according to my fiancèe, and so I relate to this concept very strongly.
German – Kummerspeck – Literally meaning “grief-bacon”, this word refers to the excess weight we can gain from emotional overeating.
This word is a perfect depiction of the situation I find myself in after every Christmas holiday… enough said!
Japanese – Tsundoku – Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.
This one is the perfect description of my current bookshelves.
My language bucket list is already as long as my arm and still growing thanks to this book. I also use it for the languages I am already learning to surprise my language friends in conversation. Always nice to say something that they really wouldn’t expect you to know. Nothing like a bit of showing off is there?
If you fancy adding this gem to your collection head over to Amazon (UK) and add it to your basket.
Do you have a favourite untranslatable word or is there a concept you think desperately needs a word in English? Let me know in the comments below.
Ciao for now!