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?
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.