Archives par étiquette : untranslatable words

Untranslatable Words | #ALLTRADISt9nDay 1


September 30 of each year is International Translation Day. This year, we are celebrating International Translation Day with ten themes highlighting this industry. Some will be funny, others heartwarming— we hope to generate discussion about a field focused on being undetectable, and interest even non-translators and interpreters to join the conversation. You can follow our updates on Twitter @ALLTRADIS or follow our discussion by following #ALLTRADISt9nDay.

There comes a time in a translator’s (or a polyglot’s) life, when he or she stumbles upon a word that simply does not translate into another language. The feeling of stumbling into such words leaves the translator… ahshiwuh, as we would say in Korean.

The dictionary equates ahshiwuh to “sad” and “sorry.” In my opinion, however, these words don’t do justice. I personally approach the word as a little less personal and melancholy than “sad,” and less pitiful and apologetic than “sorry.” Nonetheless, it expresses genuine regret and a minor discontent… a legitimate “too bad,” minus the sarcasm. (Are you beginning to see how difficult it is?)

We’re going to look at some words that don’t translate quite well (or cannot be directly translated) into English. It is a beautiful reminder that words are not simply links of letters, but are conveyers and experiences and sentiments.

Here are some beautiful words and equally charming illustration by Anjana Iyer.

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What a delightful collection of words! What was your favourite? Utepils is my personal favourite, although I think fernweh perfectly encapsulates how I’ve been feeling recently!

Can you think of words in English that don’t translate (or translate well) into other languages?


Who are we?

Agence de traduction AlltradisAlltradis is today a key player in translation and conference interpreting.

Since its creation in 1995, Alltradis has translated over 19,000 written projects in various language combinations, organized simultaneous interpreting for the largest international conferences and gathered a long list of loyal clients. Alltradis has truly become a fundamental part of their success. We specialize in diverse industries such as; medical/pharmaceutical translation, cosmetic/luxury product translation, technical and industrial translation, marketing/finance/HR translation, legal translation, etc.

Many world leading companies trust our expertise – what are you waiting for? For more information, visit our website: