February 5, 2016

More Untranslatable Words

The Book of Life treats to a list of 30 untranslatable words. I've seen some before, but most of them are new. Among my favorites are

Hiraeth (Welsh): the longing to go back to a place that has been so changed in our memory that it cannot really be said to exist outside our imaginations. A coded warning not to call up the ex or revisit the childhood hotel.
Tartle (Scottish): A moment of hesitation that occurs when you forget someone’s name. The word presents this experience as widespread and acceptable rather than awkward. It combats our tendency to treat innocent, temporary mental blankness as a personal affront.
Gökotta (Swedish): To wake up early in the morning with the specific purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing. It confers approving societal attention on a highly enriching activity we have almost certainly been neglecting of late.
Yūgen (Japanese): gives a name to a mood in which one feels that the universe as a whole possesses a mysterious, elusive, but real, beauty. Moonlight, snow on distant mountains, birds flying very high in the evening sky and watching the sun rise over the ocean all feed this sensibility.
Fika (Swedish): a traditional break from work usually involving a drink of coffee or tea. In Swedish offices, you are strongly expected to take a fika, no matter how busy you are. You should not discuss business matters, but chat pleasantly with your colleagues and get to know those above and below you in the official pecking order. It’s democracy and community in a beverage.
Age-otori (Japanese): The feeling of looking worse after a haircut. Captures how hard it is for our plans to come off well.
That *fika* is a word I wish we used in English, and age-otori is a word that unfortunately applies to me.

Oxford Dictionaries was busy today, too, with a list of American regional usages.