As a writer, I inevitably enjoy the specificity of language. I can still remember the etymological discovery that 'fabula' is the Latin word for story, and what a very particular word 'fabulous' is as a result.
Despite the wonder of the English language, however, there are still some words that we simply don't have. So, here are some international wonders that express something beautifully in a single word, and which the English can only utter in an inelegant attempt at translation:
Cwtch. This Welsh word means hug or snuggle, but a lot more besides. It also means a safe place, it's an intimate and protective hug, and in 2007 it was voted the favourite word of the Welsh.
Gezellig. A Dutch word meaning homely, cosy, friendly, warm, comfortable and familiar, amongst other things. (The noun is gezelligheid.)
Kummerspeck. A personal favourite, this German word literally translates as 'grief bacon', meaning the excess weight gained from emotional overeating.
Desenrascanco. Sometimes I feel like I'm living by this Portuguese word meaning the improvisation of a haphazard but effective solution or plan at the last minute.
Tsundoku. The act of leaving a book unread after buying it. It seems the Japanese are a lot more honest about such things than us unexpressive (but equally guilty) Brits.
Tsujigiri. Ok, the Japanese can keep this one, meaning to test a new sword casually on a passerby. You know, as you do.
Iktsuarpok. An Inuit word encapsulating that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet. Brilliant.
- Slampadato. I can't quite believe that the Italians have actually come up with a word for someone who is addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons. Is there that much of a need for it?
Why not try adding one of these to your latest blog post, social media or, hell, press release? (Try to offer a definition, though!)
And if you're struggling to express how you feel about all these lovely words, you might want to have a look at Pei-Yin Ling's infographic of 19 emotions, which English has no words for.
See also: press releases
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