Saturday, 7 December 2013

untranslatable words

Here's an interesting list of untranslatable words. I haven't provided any translations, because they're untranslatable.

(Thanks to Bob Hale for directing me to this list.)

saudida (Portuguese) - untranslatable
sponsz (Hungarian) - untranslatable
rastapopoulos (Greek) - untranslatable
kûrvitaş (Turkish) - untranslatable
txunyayo (Hixkaryana) - untranslatable
avakṣana (Sanskrit) - untranslatable
tlhaqSoD (Klingon) - untranslatable
myludh (Sindarin) - untranslatable


Bob Hale said...

Very interesting list.

Bob Hale said...

Just for fun I put your words into Google translate and used the detect language feature.

It suggested that

sponsz might be Polish
rastapopoulos might be French
kûrvitaş might be Finnish
tlhaqSoD might be English (yes, really!)
myludh might be Welsh

Scot said...

I'm no linguist but how do you have a word in Klingon that is untranslatable? :-)

Mwncïod said...

Am I missing something here but from the list:
kûrvitaş (Turkish)
rastapopoulos (Greek)
sponsz (Hungarian)

are the names of fictional characters from The Adventures of Tintin series of comic albums created by Georges "Hergé" Remi

"kûrvitaş" = Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch"
"rastapopoulos = "Roberto Rastapopoulos (Ρασταπόπουλος although he's supposed to be Italian?)
"sponsz" = Colonel Sponsz

Ronald Kyrmse said...

"Saudida" should be "saudade"... No relation to Saudi Arabia. And identifying "kûrvitaş" as Finnish misrecognizes the Finnish language, which has neither "ş" (that's Turkish or Romanian) nor (to my knowledge) circumflexes. Thank you, myludh.

goofy said...

I guess I need to work on my humour circuits.

None of these words are real. I made them all up, with some help from Hergé. You know those articles that give you a list of "untranslatable words", and then proceed to translate them? That always bugged me; I don't believe there is such a thing as an untranslatable word.

But what if some words really were untranslatable? What would that list look like?

Stan said...

I laughed. It's so trivial. Yes: words in other languages can convey meanings in a single word that we need more than one word to convey. Amazing!

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

The word "rastapopoulos", being a fictitious surname in Tintin, has only one resemblance with Greek; namely, the ending "opoulos". The rest of the word is arbitrary. In fact, it is easy, for a Greek, to guess that the name is not Greek.

Anonymous said...

"rastapopoulos (Greek) - untranslatable"
There is no such REAL common word in Greek. That's a surname. Well, congrats. Every surname can't be translated like Cornwallis and names like Brandon in Greek. If you want a REALLY untranslatable word I suggest "κατασταλαγμένος" or with Latin letter "katastalagmenos" or with the closest thing you guys to the "γ" sound "katastalaymenos". Now you will think that the English equal is "settled" or "undecided", but it's actually more complicated than that. It means someone who doesn't settle to one ideology, opinion about if gravity exists or not and whatever and he CHANGES those thinga like clothes. He may not be confused with his thoughts fighting each other, but he CHANGES many things every week. He may have one thought that week and the other the other week.

Anonymous said...

"Saudade", not "saudida"

goofy said...

How can κατασταλαγμένος be untranslatable when you just translated it?