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Thread: Are there any untranslatable words?

 
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    Default Are there any untranslatable words?

    An interesting article in The Guardian about words and translation:
    Is any word untranslatable? | Books | The Guardian
    Enjoy!

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    Default Re: Are there any untranslatable words?

    Quote Originally Posted by martin_g View Post
    An interesting article in The Guardian about words and translation:
    Is any word untranslatable? | Books | The Guardian
    Enjoy!
    I could see how some things could not be translatable. At least not directly without some background information.

    One of the things languages do is describe the environment. I understand for example that Eskimos have about 25 different words for the English word "snow". Each type of snow apparently has a different word for it. They can see the difference. We probably cannot. That makes sense I suppose because the majority of us probably do not see a variety of "snow".

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    Default Re: Are there any untranslatable words?

    Well, the Eskimo people (is that the proper term these days?) and the snow have long been a recurrent example in linguistics, but I do remember reading somewhere (probably in a book by Steven Pinker) something about that 25 names for snow thing being little more than an urban myth... The fact that it is so widely believed to be true, though, surely attests to the logic behind the idea (to our own ideas about what language does/how it works). Cheers!

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    Default Re: Are there any untranslatable words?

    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickMoreschi View Post
    Yes Nothing two languages plan neatly onto one another with direct messages between words. Languages are bound up with the cultures of their users and have all developed in different contexts & along different paths.
    I very much agree with your second proposition, Patrick. As for the 1st one, I'm afraid I'm not really sure what you meant!

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    Default Re: Are there any untranslatable words?

    When something is “lost in translation,” it could have been due to a simple mistake or due to the fact that one language was not quite able to capture the essence of a word’s meaning in another language. [Read more...]

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