Language is a beautiful and intricate thread that connects people from all over the world. The relationship between words and their meaning is a fascinating one. However, translating between two languages is no easy task, and sometimes one language is simply not able to capture the essence of the meaning of a word in another language and these words are often considered “untranslatable.”
While there are thousands upon thousands of untranslatable words, today we’re going to take a look at 10 of the most magical words that have no direct translation in English.
Hireath is the longing for one’s home, a home to which you cannot return to. It describes the nostalgia, the yearning, and the grief of missing a time, an era, or maybe a person; losses which make your “home” feel different from before, which makes you feel alienated from the sanctuary of your past.
The Greek word Meraki means to do your work with passion, with undivided attention and absolute devotion. Meraki is to put your soul into something, to put a little bit of yourself into it, no matter what the task is. Someone who loves life, lives it to the hilt, does everything with zeal, someone who lives for the moment, for the now, is often, here in Greece referred to as a “Meraklis”.
Natsukashii is usually translated as “dear”, “desired” or “missed,” but its true meaning goes beyond these adjectives. It is used to describe the feeling when small things bring you suddenly, joyously back to fond memories, not with a longing to go back to that time, but just a simple profound appreciation of the beautiful times.
Charmolypi signifies the acceptance of sorrow as it mingles with joy. Described as “joy-making sorrow”, it is the feeling of regret and repentance of past wrongs that also fill us with hope of forgiveness. It is the bittersweet process of letting go, of accepting the inevitable moments of sadness in our lives and learning to flow with them.
The Japanese word Komorebi describes the effect of sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees. It captures the aesthetic play between the shadows and the leaves as the sunlight dances through the trees.
Iktsuarpokrefers to the feeling of anticipation when you’re expecting someone that leads you to constantly check to see if they’re coming. It’s the impatient excitement for a visit that makes you look out the window countless times in hope of seeing your guest arrive.
Gigil is that shivery, wanting-to-squeal thrill that accompanies a strong desire to lay your hands on something cute. It is that overwhelming urge to squeeze or pinch something very cute (like puppies).
The complex Nguni word Ubuntu is often translated as “humanity to others”. Ubuntu is the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others. It refers to behaving well towards others or acting in ways that benefit the community. Ubuntu, in a sense, is a way of thinking about what it means to be human, and how we, as humans, should behave towards others.
Laotong is a type of relationship within Chinese culture practised in Hunan, which bonded two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters. It is a bond so strong that it bonds two women together for life, no matter what.
Most commonly, Querencia is used to describe the place in a bull ring where the bull goes to feel safe and to gather his strength. Metaphorically, it is a place from where you gather your strength and where you feel the most at home. It is a safe haven, a sanctuary, where you can be your unapologetic self.