There are some words in other languages that don’t exist in English. Isn’t that crazy to think! Sure, English has a translation of an idea but to think that there is one word to describe an experience is baffling. I find learning languages fascinating and think it’s super cool to discover words in other languages that don’t exist in English. These are some of my favorites!
You know when you take a bite of burning hot food and opening your mouth to let the steam out as you make an “aaarrrrahhh” sound? Well the Ghanaians have a word for it: pelinti. I find it amazing that they thought to make up a word for this because it happens all the time. It’s a word in another language that doesn’t exist in English that really should. It’s a universal phenomenon and reaction so we should come up with a word for it rather than describing it.
In Georgian, the word “zeg” means “the day after tomorrow.” Isn’t that cool? More often than not we talk about “tomorrow” or “yesterday” but there is a word to describe the day after tomorrow in another language. Why don’t we have that word in English yet? We should really get on the ball with that word.
“Tartle” may sound like a weird word but we all know what this feels like. You know that moment before you introduce someone and you suddenly forget their name. Well, the Scottish word for this is “tartle.” I know this has happened to me and I suddenly get anxious because I don’t know why I forgot their name, especially when it’s an old family friend.
Do you ever buy a book only to put it on the shelf and never read it? Well, the Japanese word for this is “tsundoku.” This has happened to me on more than one occasion. I wonder why we do that; spend money on something only to set it aside and never use it. Whatever the reason, we should have a word for it in English.
In Brazilian Portuguese, there is a word to describe the action of “tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.” Cafuné. Having someone run their hands through your hair is one of the best feelings in the world so why don’t we have a word for this in English yet? Seriously, we should come up with one soon!
Whether you’ve done it yourself or have friends who do it, you know the act of tapping someone on the shoulder to fool them into thinking someone is on the other side. The word “mencolek” is Indonesian for this same thing. I’ve never really understood where the obsession with doing that comes from but regardless, who knew there was a word for that? Granted it isn’t in English but still, it’s cool to see that it exists in another language.
7. Pana Po’o
The Hawaiian word “pana po’o” means “to scratch one’s head while trying to remember something.” Okay, I’m not quite sure why we do this but it has been done. Often. Do you pana po’o?
I think it’s cool to see what words exist in other languages that don’t in English. Can you believe these mots juste? Have you heard of any of these before? What are other cool words in other languages that don’t translate?