Translation Tuesday–Gemütlichkeit

As we witnessed last Tuesday, trying to express yourself in a foreign language can be a funny thing. And by funny, I of course mean terribly embarrassing.

But difficult translations don’t always have to end in heartbreak! Sometimes it seems impossible to translate a word into another language, not because you’ve mistaken it with something else, but because the concept is hard to put into words in another language.

For example, let’s look at the word Gemütlichkeit in German. Looks kind of scary, right? Well, it doesn’t mean anything scary at all. But in order to explain or translate it, you can’t just match it up to an equivalent word in English. After looking it up in a dictionary, you might think it just means coziness or a state of being comfortable. But if you ask a native speaker of German, it’s so much more than that. It’s on a higher level than just comfort; it is a state of being in which all is physically, mentally, and emotionally well. And even that probably isn’t doing it justice!

It’s interesting how studying a language doesn’t just consist of translating words and memorizing vocabulary lists and verb conjugations, but also invites you to learn about other ways of thinking and other lifestyles. Let us know if there’s a word you’ve encountered in a language foreign to you that doesn’t always translate well into your native tongue. Did it change the way you think about certain concepts? Or just confuse the heck out of you?

(Is there a word in your native language that doesn’t easily translate into English? Share it with us and it could be featured on G-Blogodaria!)

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