14 Untranslatable Words

One of the posts I did over at Writing North East last month. Do you have any to add?

Writing North East

I’ve heard it said that English is a mugger, waiting in darkened alleys to steal words and stray grammatical rules from unwitting languages who pass us. Our language is based on lots of languages, and we accept new words in to our lexicon every day.

There are some words we are yet to welcome, and they are words we have no alternative for. They are untranslatable, and some are beautiful. Some are oddly specific.

Here are a few of my favourite words, pretty in their meaning and strange in their form. If you do use them in dialogue, be aware of the kind of character who is saying them.

DhvaniSanskrit – the line of a song or poem which strikes you after you first hear it

FremdschamGerman – when you experience embarrassment on behalf of someone, especially someone who doesn’t realise they should be embarrassed.


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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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