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Untranslatable Words in Korean and English

November 10, 2014

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It’s time to get learned. In this episode we cover phrases and words in one language that don’t exist in the other, the complicated world of Korean kinship titles, and which British word we completely botched in the last episode of DICKS. Check out the video to see our favourite un-translatable words, and check out our words below for a little more insight into Korean family titles. Tally ho!

가족 호칭 or Family Titles

Instead of calling one’s name, Korean people address another person with 호칭. In English, “aunt” and “uncle” are kind of like 호칭, only in Korean these titles get way more specific. Sure there’s “aunt,” but there’s also “maternal aunt by marriage” and also “husband’s bigger brother.” Someone’s 호칭 tells you how close you are in the family tree and what kind of relationship you have with that person. If you know which title the other person is to you, you instantly know who their parents are, who their children are, and if you are higher or lower than them. You can have numerous 호칭, depending on who is addressing you. This is true in English too. For example, your mother’s brother is your uncle, so you call him “Uncle.” But to your mother, he’s “Brother.” And to your grandfather, he’s “Son.” So to me, my mom’s is “엄마” but to my cousin, she’s “이모.” Confused yet? I tried to make a basic family tree and title name that you call for each family member. 

We have specific titles for older and younger siblings in your immediate family, and of course for your parent’s siblings. 언니 and 오빠 are very common, and not just for family. They could be your own older sister or brother or it could be someone who is a close friend but older. Mostly we put 큰 for older sibling, and 작은 for younger one. Remember how I said there were a billion 호칭? Believe it or not, there are few people missing in these trees, including the spouses of your uncle and aunt. Here are few more that were not in the tree.

Dad’s brother’s wife = 큰 어머니 / 작은 어머니
Dad’s sister’s husband = 고모부
Mom’s brother’s wife =  외숙모
Mom’s sister’s husband = 이모부 
 
As if that wasn’t enough, I have also prepared a tree for married couples’ family names. If you guys ever marry a Korean person this will come in handy.

촌 / 촌수 aka: bridges

촌수 is way to calculate how close you are as family on a family tree. The closest relationship is as a married couple, which is 0 촌. You and your parents are 1 촌, and you and your siblings are 2촌. This is where 삼촌(uncle) comes from, since he is 3 bridges away from you. Also cousins are called 사촌 because they are 4 bridges away. 

Family can be extended and 촌 can be calculated as many as you want, but come on now, if they are over 10 bridges away they are practically the same as a stranger. Koreans think within in 8 bridges people and spouse family as family so outside of we don’t count as family. That is why we say “사돈의 팔촌” when we barely know a person. It means you’re 8-bridges-away cousins of a spouse’s family, which is extremely far. You might as well be strangers.

If you have any questions about this kinda confusing episode or know of any words that you wish translated into other languages, let us know in the comments section below. Hopefully our silly ramblings made sense and maybe you even learned something?

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Untranslatable Words in Korean and English

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  1. In Spanish we have a softer phrase for “I LOVE YOU”, since i love you it’s considered to be the ultimate form of expression about your feelings for someone a couple in their “early stages” will say “te quiero” , “te quiero mucho” o “te quiero tanto!”. It is a way of building up the actual intimacy you share with your partner. OR!!!
    you can use it while taking to a close friend or family. It’s really frustrating to try to express that soft, kind, not so intense or strong feeling in other languages because “quiero”,”querer” it’s literally translated to want, so it doesn’t actually mean I want you (although I guess you can use it in a pervert kinda way and still mean it in the romantic way … DON’T).

    3 years ago
  2. I am going to apologise for this being about Japanese words and not Korean T__T As someone who is living in Japan, I’ve often been asked how to translate some of their phrases into English. But it becomes difficult because it also depends on the situation. Is it the same in Korean, too?

    For example “よろしくお願いします/Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu”. It can be said when introducing yourself as a way to say “Please look after me”, but that is a very loose translation. However, when some of my Japanese teachers have asked me to do something special like marking worksheets or doing certain activities during a class, they will also say it at the end.

    Another one is “お疲れさまです/Otsukare sama desu”. This is used a lot around some of my schools. I think its a way of saying “Good Job or You’re working hard”. but most of my students will say this to me as a kind of greeting in the hall ways. Yet, before you leave the office/staff room/work place, you will say this loudly to everyone there as a way of saying “goodbye” – “お疲れさまでした/Otsukare sama deshita”, which means “Thank you for working hard”. I wish there something as polite as this in English, rather than just saying “I’m going, bye!” (which we really mean – HAHAHA suckers! I’m going home!!! *evil laugh*).

    3 years ago
  3. Keep going, I love watching you guys doing what you do :D And it’s interesting and educational at the same time! hehe. I think this newest theme you had is really good, give me more untranslatable words!

    3 years ago
  4. I’m a native English speaker, but speak Spanish and Chinese as well, and have had a couple of frustrations with words that simply don’t have a direct equivalent.

    For Spanish, it’s that there’s no word for “random”. I’ve talked about this with multiple people, and it’s generally agreed that you should use the words “extraño” or “raro”, which mean “strange” and “rare” respectively. Sometimes I wonder how mathematicians describe a number as being random in Spanish! However, it’s really more when I want to say…”ugh, that’s so random,” that I get frustrated. When speaking in English, however, I’m really jealous of the Spanish word “madrugada”, which means the time between midnight and when the sunrises. In English, we always get confused as to whether it’s the morning, or the night, or…what? But there’s a word out there to describe it, and we need to adopt it immediately.

    I’m studying in China right now, and I’m sure there’s a word I’m going to miss when I head back to the States, which is 二 (er), literally meaning “two”, but when you describe someone as “er”, for example: “你好二!”(Ni hao er), it means they’re kind of lovably stupid. Like, one half stupid, one half cute. It’s such a loving way to say someone’s being an idiot! The one word I’ve gotten hung up on several times trying to say in Chinese is “irony”. There’s nothing that really truly translates, or really gets the feeling of an ironic situation. Everything translates to something kind of like sarcasm, but sometimes a situation’s truly ironic, and it’s always ends up translating as…stupid, or the aforementioned 二。

    Either way, even when certain words are hard to translate, it’s always such a joy to learn a new language. The way it gives a window into a culture and people is like nothing other. I’m excited to tackle Korean after Chinese, and am especially excited about having an alphabet again, and will gladly trade easier grammar structures for being easily literate.

    3 years ago
    • I’ll try to answer your questions. ‘Aleatorio’ is the word that mathematicians use to describe random numbers. In my country people usually say ‘eso es por la cara’ on a very informal way to say ‘that’s so random’, but there is no formal expression or at least i don’t know anyone.
      I’m a native Spanish speaker and an english student :)

      3 years ago
      • Min

        Yes there is no word that really implies the same thing as the word random does in it’s slang usage… but I’ve got my mexican friends and yearmates saying it like “que random” jajajaja. they totally get what I mean now with random I did have to go through the whole ” es raro , pero mas que raro es algo raro e inesperado, pero no exactamente eso, saben que? olvidenlo. Cuando suceda algo random les diré que es random ” XD

        3 years ago
        • Yep. It changes from place to place. In Buenos Aires we use the term ‘volado’, ‘cualquiera’ (although this has a negative connotation) or ‘al voleo’.
          One thing though, doesn’t the term ‘madrugada’ mean the same thing as ‘twilight’?

          3 years ago
  5. Min

    Soo I’m a Mexican American that decided on her 21st birthday to move to Mexico… and I’ve noticed that there are some english words that mean something more than what there usual spanish equivelant implies and vice versa.
    The first one that comes to mind is “tease” i’d have to say something like “estoy vacilando” but that’s more like “I’m joking” which does not = tease. Also I’m a great fan of the word “Serendipity”, since I first read it in some book in junior high, and there is really no word in spanish that grasps that ephemeral feeling one gets when something occurs fortuitously, unexpectedly, quite as well as that word.
    In spanish to english the first one that comes to mind is “anolar” it’s the action of sucking on something that’s inside your mouth, but it’s more than just sucking, it’s also moving it around inside your mouth.. wel it’s hard to explain in english you’d use it like “ese dulce es dificil de anolar, esta muy grande.” if you say “chupar” in that sentence, you’d get the literal translation of sucking but you’d also get the added bonus of people saying the equivalant of “that’s what she said.” Another one is “te Quiero” it’s like I can tell my bffs that “las quiero mucho” without them thinking that I might be interested in them. Te quiero can be said to people that aren’t your lovers but you care about, and then you can reserve “amor/amar/amo” for your love… in English we can say I like you and I love you, but neither quite get the meaning and nuance of te quiero.

    3 years ago
    • Min

      oops I’ll have to add to my comment
      another word that I have to mention is “tutear” which refers to us young’uns referring to older people in the “tu” form (informal) rather than the “usted” form which is formal, though “usted” can also be used on someone your same age that you might just be meeting. My mom is old fashioned and she instilled in me the inability to speak to strangers informally, which is why when I first came my new friends told me to “no me hables de usted, me haces sentir viejo, te voy a tutear asi que hazlo tambien” basically “don’t speak to me so formally, you make me feel old, I’ll speak informally to you so you should do so as well”… since english currently has no real difference between the formal and informal it’s hard to describe what it means – though a little tidbit that might blow your mind “you” used to be the formal way to address people and “thou” the informal way of address… not the other way around… amazing, right?

      3 years ago
  6. Oh my God, I got mentioned!

    I did some rooting around and I found this: http://www.lmh.ox.ac.uk/Student-life/Jargon.aspx Seems legit. It comes from one of the Oxford college websites and most of it matches up with stuff my friend says that I don’t understand.

    Speaking of French and untranslatable English words, apparently one English word that doesn’t translate into French (don’t know about other languages as French is sadly the only language other than English that I can actually hold a conversation in), is “awkward”. I was over in France with a friend and his family and the situation got really awkward for some reason (and in part because I didn’t totally understand everything that people were saying around me, which led to a few excruciating misunderstandings), and later on I was trying to explain to him in French that it had been really awkward, and I found myself stuck. So I asked him what “awkward” was in French, and he just shrugged and said “we don’t have that concept.” He said that, if anything, since he’s been to the UK enough times to understand what I was getting at about awkward situations, he’d probably say “c’est awkward” with a French accent to francify it. Made me laugh.

    Cracked.com had a couple of fabulous articles on words the English language badly needs to adopt because we have no equivalent for them. Just thought I’d link them.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_17251_the-10-coolest-foreign-words-english-language-needs.html
    (The writer of this one didn’t know about butterface but had the Japanese equivalent, so it’s okay.)

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19695_9-foreign-words-english-language-desperately-needs.html
    I know a few pochemuchkas and pilkunnussijas and now I know what to call them, and they’ll never know WHAT I’m calling them unless they happen to understand Finnish or Russian or read articles on cracked.com

    3 years ago
    • I really wish we would have a french word for awkward! I’m french Canadian (from Québec) and the closest word I can think of to describe something awkward is “malaisant” it pretty much means uncomfortable, if I didn’t speak english I guess that’s the word I would use to describe something awkward, but it’s not quite the same thing, and I don’t know it’s used in France. Personally I always end up saying awkward even in a french conversation.

      3 years ago
  7. In México we say “Me da hueva” and it means like it gives me laziness. “Hueva” is the untranslatable word and it’s a bit crude to some. It’s used ways that are hard to translate. Like “que hueva”! When someone suggests something to do and you don’t really feel like it and it’s likeasy “oh what laziness”… the action brings you laziness. Again. Difficult to explain but it’s one of my favorite words because it describes the lethargic feeling perfectly.

    3 years ago
  8. I think a cool word in Spanish is “friolento”. It basically means someone who can’t handle the cold. Friolentos are the infuriating people who wear sweatshirts during the summer and complain 24/7 that the ac is too cold (when it isn’t) or the fan is on too high. An example using this would be: mi papa es demasiado friolento, es dificil de creer que el es de New York. Its sounds awkward when you translate it into English. My dad is really a person who cannot handle the cold, its hard to believe that he is from New York. I guess that works. But its not really the same thing.

    3 years ago
    • So basically me. Soy friolenta? I’m such a cold weenie. But then again, I can handle sweaty, sticky Korean summers like a boss. You’ll never hear me complain of the heat and sunshine.

      3 years ago
  9. Is there a Korean equivalent to sexually frustrated?

    3 years ago
  10. In Danish we have a word called “hygge”(or hyggeligt). We use it in a way to describe a mood like “Det her er så hyggeligt (this is so hyggeligt) or just “hygge” (in a sort of slang way instead of hyggeligt) when someone says “We went to the amusement park yesterday and it was so “hygge”!”
    Though if we had to translate it into english we would most likely use words like cozy, but there is just no way to make a proper translation of that word.. :b

    3 years ago
    • We have the same kind of word in Dutch: Gezellig. :D

      3 years ago
    • Yes! Everyone in Denmark, Norway and Sweden loves to describe their apartment, a restaurant or activity as cozy! As an American, I really didn’t get it, but I did like the feeling it was trying to convey.

      3 years ago
  11. 2 best words in Swedish: fika and lagom. I am not 100% sure about fika if it’s one of a kind or not but it means to go grab some kind of beverage and something edible that’s sweet OuO I’m not good at explaining but it’s like the pudding thing Leigh mentioned last time but our word isn’t something specific, it’s a made up word to describe the action of going to eat cookies, cake, drink a pop, coffee or whatever you prefer XD

    Lagom however is one of a kind (at least in English as far as I know). Lagom kinda means ‘just enough’. So if someone asks you “how much water do you want?” and you’re kind of like ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘I don’t want too much nor too little’ you’d say ‘lagomt’. This goes for everything basically, but people will hate you for this XD Whenever they ask you how much of something you want and you say ‘lagomt’ and they don’t know your definition of ‘lagomt’ they will want to kill you XD But be prepared because they will do the exact same thing themselves XD Lagom is the best way to escape having to actually answer something XD

    3 years ago
  12. in american english we have dozens of words for grandparents. i’ve never heard anything like it in any other language. they might have a few words but nothing like the myriad of titles you see in english. i for example have a grandma and grandpa and a granny and a pawpaw, then my kids have nanny (or nanna) and papaw (different than pawpaw) my cousin say meemaw and pee paw, while other relations are polish and go with MiMi and ZhaZha, others i heard are (grandmas) Grams, Grammy GeeGee, mawmaw, mamey, big mama,nona/nonna/ noni/ just to name a few and the for grandpas we have bubby, Pops, poppy, popop, gramps, Pappy/ grandpappy PaPa boompa and more!

    3 years ago
  13. In Sweden we have some interesting words.

    The first is that we have a similar system to give every family member a title, as Soozee talks about.

    Swedish (english)
    Mor/Mamma (mother)
    Far/Pappa (father)
    Mormor (mothers mother)
    Morfar (mothers father)
    Moster (mothers sister)
    Morbror (mothers brother)
    Farmor (fathers mother)
    Farfar (fathers father)
    Faster (fathers sister)
    Farbror (fathers brother)
    Gammel mormor (mothers mothers mother or fathers mothers mother) (literally “Old mothers mother)
    Gammel morfar (mothers mothers father or fathers mothers father) (literally “Old mothers father)
    Gammel farmor (mothers fathers mother or fathers fathers mother) (literally “Old fathers mother)
    Gammel farfar (mothers fathers father or fathers fathers father) (literally “Old fathers father)

    Kusin (cousin) and/or Tvåmänning (Second men’s)
    Syssling (Parents cousins children) and/or Tremänning (Third men’s)
    Brylling (Parents “sysslings” children) and/or Fyrmänning (Fourth men’s)
    Pyssling (Parents “bryllings” children and/or Femmänning (Five men’s)

    Thats all for the family tree!

    We have some pretty words in Swedish too *_*

    Fika – A must for swedes. Its the word we use when we are out drinking coffe and eating cookies or other sweet stuff to it. We do tend to “fika” a couple of time a day. If you work in the industry you have “fika rast” (like a break from work) 2-3 times a day + lunch break. You can also have a “fika” with friends, nomather the day or place you can always have fika. Eat some cinnamon buns and drink some coffe/tee/lemonade. It’s never wrong to have a “fika”. And a fika can be from just 10-15 min up til several hours depending on the situation.

    Mångata (literally moonstreet) It’s the moons reflection in the water (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/m%C3%A5ngata#mediaviewer/File:Bj%C3%B8rnafjorden_in_moonlight.JPG)

    (as people as said below)
    Lagom – It’s a word you can use in almost any sentence nomather the subject and it’s meaning is “just enough”. you can have “lagom” many cakes or “lagom” with ketchup on your food, you can be “lagom” full after dinner. You can have lost “lagom” much money on gambling. You can have “lagom” fun when your out partying, or had “lagom” with alcohol, you can also be “lagom” drunk.

    Thx for an interesting shooow!
    Peace :>
    //Thomas

    3 years ago
  14. In Sweden we have an unique word called “lagom” (I’ve heard there is not a similar word in any language) and it means “just about enough” kind of…. So it’s actually kind of frustrating because people can ask “How much tea/coffee do you want?” and people will answer with “Lagom.” *procceeds to jump out of window*

    3 years ago
  15. I’m from Italy (*don’t you say?!*) and precisely from south italy (Apulia!)
    In Italy, the dialect is part of the everyday life, and they are so many differences between them! If somebody from Milan speaks his dialect , and I, mine, we will probably not understand each other!

    Back to us, There are a lot of word that you could never traslate, neither in italian!!
    Such as “Sango!” that is an exclamation we use in my zone (barely traslable in english as “blood!”). Well, you can use it almost for every strange\improvvise situation. For example: a car cross your way really fast, and you have just a second to save your own life. You can scream “Saaango! ”
    Or your friend tells you that he boughts a really stupid thing, payng an excessive amount of money (“Sango!”YOU HAD BEEN CHEATED!”). Also “CE FUECO” (the super barely trarlation is “that fire”) is usable from the same situations. The crazy thing is that almost every single village have his own dialect and accent!

    Another word (that makes me laugh a lot ‘couse souds really funny) is “MUCCULONE” (the Cs have strong pronuciation) THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO TRASLATION, NEITHER IN ITALIAN NOR IN ENGLISH. “Mucculone” is a boy who simply stands whith a lost face, without no idea of how handle a situation. It’s so funny to say omg hahahah

    Somebody can say that dialects are not polite (it’s true that is not really cute lo listen in every single phrase) but personally I think that they are an interesting -and sometimes funny- part of the language. Italian is a very difficoult language to learn, because you really have to live there for understand every single slang or word, but is also very beautiful for the same reason!
    Please come here for the next European Tour!

    3 years ago
  16. What I have to share is not really untranslatable, more like an expression that I wished would exist in every language.
    I’m French, and you probably all know the expression “Bon apétit!”. The English equivalent would be “Enjoy your meal!”, but it is NOT the litteral translation of it. That would be “Good apetite” or more exacltly “I wish you a good apetite for this meal”, which is exactly what “Bon apétit!” is about. It is more than wishing you to enjoy your meal, it is deeply around your apetite for the food you have in front of you, which is a subtle but, in my sense, meaningful difference that says a lot about how we perceive meals and food in general.
    Maybe that small difference is why it is so common in the English language to hear this gallicism ;)
    I’d like to know if in other languages there is a commonly used expression that litterally means “Bon apétit!” or “(I wish you a) good apetite” instead of simply saying “Enjoy your meal/food!” ?

    3 years ago
    • I can acctually think of at least three other languages that have a phrase like “Bon apétit!”. In Germany you say “Guten Appetit!” in Italian it is “Buon appetito!” (it has exactly the same meaning as the french phrase, were you basically wish someone a good apetite) and in polish you say “Smacznego!” (Smaczne = Tasty/Good. In my eyes this one is even stronger. You basically wish someone a tasty meal. I always thought that the pronounciation of the word makes the sound of something being tasty. At least in for me =D) I am sure Spanisch, Portugese or Russian have also something similar to that because those are all countries, with a significant food culture ^_^

      3 years ago
  17. I think that in English, the sheer amount of pet-names couples give each other is largely untranslatable. Particularly to Japanese and possibly other Asian languages? I think it’s probably because pet names can vary widely. Like every couple has their own unique language, and their own unique pet names for one another. I think that would be tough to translate.

    3 years ago
  18. In Denmark we have the word ‘hygge’ (which we always talk about to foreigners because it can’t be translated and it’s more or less actually the ‘essence’ of being Danish)
    ‘Hygge’ is close to cosy – it’s a feeling but it’s also something we do – we sit down watch tv and eat candy with the family, or sit and talk with hot chocolate, tea or coffee and eat cake. it can be anything as long as it’s nice, with people you like, or alone, and you’re having a good time. (but it’s not shopping or anything that can be a bit stressing or hectic)

    and also in denmark we have two words for love- one for falling in love (forelskelse) and one for being in love (at elske) – cuz the two is very different
    and only one word(gender-neutral) for a boy/girlfriend (kæreste) and an entire different word for friends (ven(m)/veninde(f) (gender-specific)) – which prevent the awkward situations you always see in television: “He’s my boyfriend, but not my boyfriend, he’s my friend who is a boy” and it’s also more specific if you’re homosexual instead of trying to explain to people: “She’s my girlfriend, but not as a friend, but as in we’re dating” you just present her as you ‘kæreste’ :)

    3 years ago
    • I’m glad you wrote this post, then I didn’t have too! I have always been very fascinated by forelskelse, there really isn’t any word for it in english! In Norway, hygge would be koselig – and that’s just this wonderful word there is no way to explain 100%. My boyfriend even used this word in an university assignment he had. Frog in the fjord is a really cool blog, and I think the lady there explains “koselig”. She’s french, but lives in Norway ^^

      3 years ago
  19. There’s a great tumblr that is devoted to words that don’t have exact translations in other languages. They do a really good job. It’s at other-wordly.tumblr.com. Also the blog word4that.com.
    I think my favorite example from English is “valleity”:a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.
    In this week after the American elections, it seems terribly appropriate.

    3 years ago
    • As an English speaker, I am not sure what word you are referring to here. Valleity is not a word in English.
      I am trying to think of the word the fits your description.
      Is the word ‘Valiantly’?
      http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/valiantly

      3 years ago
      • It’s real, I just put an a in where an e should be. I’m a native English speaker, but my spelling doesn’t always show it.

        3 years ago
  20. In Germany we have the verb “fremdschämen” :D it means when you are ashamed for something embarassing someone else is doing.
    And also my dad is Italian and in the part of my Italian family everyone is called either aunt/uncle or cousin even if they aren’t that closely related to us. That can get really onfusing sometimes because so many people have the same names (Maria for example…) :D

    3 years ago
  21. In the Netherlands we have the word “Gezellig” which means something like cozy, warm-hearted and you have fun to be at that time at that place.

    3 years ago
  22. I also have a huge family tree like that but I don’t see them often and I am guilty of not calling their names….esp those with names that are hard to remember

    3 years ago
  23. You know that feeling you have when you miss someone? how is it called? how do describe that? ooh yeah, English doesn’t have a specific word for that… in Portuguese we call it “saudade”, it’s a feeling like love, happiness, sadness… but it doesn’t translate in English or others languages that I know… it is so frustrating, my English friends can never fully understand what I mean…

    3 years ago
    • Indeed! I always feel frustrated when I try to say “eu sinto saudade de…” in english, because “to miss” sounds so shallow. “Saudade” is so much more, like you said, love, sadness and also melancholy…

      3 years ago
      • “Yearn” in English would come closest. To yearn for someone.
        Many old English words, which are sadly no longer in colloquial use, would be great to see back in everyday use.

        3 years ago
  24. In Sweden we have some words that you can’y find anywhere else. The first one is fika, I think you have already heard about this? Fika – when you go to a cafe and drink coffee. Or when you have a break during work. Or when you drink coffee and eat cake at home… or… Often about drinking coffee but drinking tea, soda or other stuff also work. Yes, a lot of swedes have a lot of fika every day.

    Another Swedish word I really like and miss in other languages is lagom. Lagom is a word that describes something as enough or almost in perfect balance. Your coffee can be lagom hot. It is then not to hot nor to cold either. You can have lagom amount of work, money, happiness, pie… You name it! Lagom is a word that pinpoints a lot of swedes striving to be in the perfect middle, They don’t want to stick out in society and are happy being like all others. If you examines it from a spiritual standpoint it is also about balance in your life. To much happiness or sadness, success or failure isn’t good, you should have a little bit of both. Lagom happiness or lagom success is the right way to go!

    3 years ago
  25. as an American, most of us know these words, but I think some of the best words (in terms of capturing a moment/trait) that we have are ratchet and swag…i feel like there are no true translations to these words haha… anywho but in Spanish (at least the Spanish spoken in Colombia because I am not too sure if other countries do this as well) there is a phrase, or a word rather, that I feel like cannot be properly translated into English and it is “me” (pronounced “meh” btw!). This can be used in a variety of ways. For example: Let’s say you have a parent who is scolding the child for doing something wrong, the other parent not liking the way the child is being scolded may say “no me lo/la (gender) grites!” instead of “no grites.” The use of “me” makes the sentence more possessive… saying, do not yell at MY child whereas the second sentence just says do not yell. Other random examples can be… “(por favor) cuidamelo” (instead of “cuidelo”) (please) take care of him/it for me; “no me lo puedo creer” (instead of “no lo creo”) I cannot believe it/unbelievable!; “no te me vayas!” (instead of “no te vayas!”) don’t leave me! and of course there are many more… and some of you who may have studied Spanish may find it familiar with the reflexive verbs but you don’t necessarily have to use it with a reflexive verb. But yea i find that the use of “me” in these phrases just puts a lot of emphasis to the importance of the message you are trying to convey is to you and you hope that others will care as well! Hope that makes sense!

    3 years ago
    • I think they are talking more about actual words from a language, instead of Slang. :FellowAmerican:

      3 years ago
  26. Lei

    I love the idea of words that are unique to a specific culture!
    In Hawaii, we use a lot of local slang that makes us sound kind of different from mainlanders (<— could possibly be another word we invented to describe the people living in the states on the North American continent). We call people of mixed races "hapa"; I think it was originally meant to be derogatory and ethnically specific, but most people use it pretty casually to describe anyone who's mixed (ex: caucasian and korean, Hawaiian and Caucasian, African American and Japanese). Hapa people are also known for being really pretty. Fun fact: when we mix brown and white rice together, we call it hapa rice (because it's mixed). We also say "da kine" a lot, when we forget what the thing we're talking about is actually called (ex: "Oh I went fishing at da kine yesterday"), it's basically like a brain fart word ("You know da kine!") Another pretty common term is "brah" or "braddah", which is what you might call your friends. It's pretty much a local equivalent to "dude".
    Loved this episode of… Well, you know!

    3 years ago
  27. Is there a Korean equivalent to “getting schooled”? Thanks!

    I love these segments, you guys are fun!

    3 years ago
  28. So something that is southern and not all southern people seem to say it. (I am from Oklahoma and live in Texas.) But it seems that “Ya’ll” is a special word.

    “Ya’ll” Means You all, but if you said You all, it would sound funny. Even if you said something similar. It is just a super useful word in referring to a large group. I already talk slower then my husband from Washington State, so any words I can shorten are a god send.

    Examples:
    “Ya’ll gonna go see the movie with us?”
    “What ya’ll gonna eat?”
    “What is the matter with Ya’ll?! People are trying to sleep!”
    “Hey Ya’ll, knock it off…”
    “Howdy Ya’ll, Welcome Home <3"

    3 years ago
    • As an Oregonian daughter of a guy from East Texas, I use “y’all” sometimes, but with a Pacific Northwest accent. People look at me funny. :)

      3 years ago
  29. I’m mexican but there are 3 words that i know that are not translated in english or it is not translated correctly. Pinche (PIN-che), it is translated in english as rascal or waiter but it means “f88k” or “f88king (insert noun)”. It is a slang word but i do not understand how it is translated to rascal. another word is mamites (MA-mi-tes). it a slang word meant for a child who is clingy to there mother, similar to a “mama’s boy” in english but it is not translated in english. Another slang word is chiches (CHI-ches)which means b00bs but for some reason it is translated as easy in english. Hey Soo Zee, lee, are there any slang words to identify people of another country or continent? EX: latino or latina (boy/girl who is from/descended/born in latin america)

    3 years ago
  30. I have a Korean bf, who I love being around, but I really don’t like how ‘I miss you’ translates to Korean. 보고 싶어요 is just so boring and feels expressionless… ‘I want to see you’ doesnt really explain how I feel. I like how in French you say ‘tu me manques’ which means, ‘you are missing from me’, and I feel the English expression is much closer to that. I also lived in Brazil, and they have a word, ‘saudades’, which means I miss you so much it hurts that I’m thinking about you constantly, and as I remember you I think of if I will ever see you again- sort of. Then when you ‘get rid’ of your saudades, you say ‘matei minhas saudades’, which literally means ‘I killed my missing-ness’ or ‘I vanquished my feelings’, but is more like ‘I’m so relieved to finally be with you- all is well’ kind of thing… it’s so hard to explain T^T But yea, Korean seems to lack here and there with expressions like this…

    3 years ago
    • DD

      In comparison with English(in America), I feel like, Korean expression about love and affection is very indirect and subtle. In my memory, I recognized that the person like me or missed me so much, not because of the word but because of the context of the expression and very subtle care for the fiancé of the person. When I traveled with my friends (woman) in Japan, they all bought small gift, such as chocolate, accessary or a picture may interested in for their fiancé wherever they go. I pretty sure that they would not talk about their affection, but they will talk about their travel with those small gift. It is probably bit different when the person is man, but the dynamics is similar I guess.

      3 years ago
  31. Jo

    Oh my gosh, the family tree thing is so confusing in Chinese too x_X You guys probably wouldn’t understand this video, considering how it’s in Mandarin Chinese, but just to give you a sense of how discombobulated everything is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCFRoILS1jY

    Also, for terms in one language that don’t translate to another…in French, there’s a phrase, “l’esprit de l’escalier.” Directly translated, it means “spirit of the escalator,” which doesn’t really make much sense. However, you ever have someone diss you really hard or someone had such a witty comeback that you were literally left speechless and you were just like, “…well damn, you won that one.” But then later, you come up with THE perfect comeback and then you’re like, “DAMMIT, BUT I CAN’T USE IT NOW!” “L’esprit de l’escalier” is the phrase for that exact feeling you get in that situation.

    3 years ago
  32. Some portuguese words that I find lacking in English are “saudade” which is the emotion you feel when you miss/long for someone, that can be used like the expression “I miss you”, but really you just need the one word and people will understand; another is “cafuné”(which is read Kah-foo-NEH) which is the act of rubbing someone’s head/hair gently, like on a lover or a loved one (i.e. a kid when you put them to bed might ask for a cafuné).
    As for English to portuguese yeah the word “sorry” i agree, we have the same issues too. it is just so much more convenient in English lol. There are probably others but I cant think of them right now.
    though I do find amusing the times when verbs have split meaning like “to be” in portuguse you have two verbs for it “ser” and “estar”, and conversely the verbs “to make” and “to do” can be balled up together into the verb “fazer”…. languages are very interesting. lol I love these kinds of things

    3 years ago
    • Oh! I lived in Brazil for a year and learnt Brazilian Portuguese! I totally know what you mean by saudades- though I found it odd that my classmates used it every Monday to express they hadn’t seen me all weekend, lol. It is a very sentimental and emotional word to be used like that.. And I remember hearing cafuné before, but I never really fully connected it til now! One time I was really upset and my lil host cousins (5-6 years old) came over and patted me on the head, and I remember their mom using the word. Also about Portuguese- I love being able to drop pronouns all the time- having all the crazy conjugations are in a way quite useful!

      3 years ago
  33. I’ve check your family tree titles, and I found no branch for the grandmother (dad’s mother or mom’s mother).
    How do you call them ?

    3 years ago
    • For grandmother, it’s 할아머니 (hal aw mah ni) (grandfather is 할아버지 (hal aw bah ji)), then you add the titles to express which side you mean. 친 증조 is denoting father’s side (친 cheen being father’s) then 외 증조 denoting mother’s side (외 being mother’s). Also, to an extent because Korean culture is patriarchal, I don’t know if this the way they would just naturally draw the family tree, or if it was left out simply because it has a clear equivalent to grandfather on my father’s side… Fun fact you might not know, Korean families also have a book of their family trees and relatives and typically first born sons need to study it… this is what my Korean bf has told me and many others have said so too… Knowing family is important I think…

      3 years ago
      • Ok thanks a lot ! I guess if you get how the different terms are build, it gets easier.
        I get the patriarcal thing, but still found that a bit sad for the grand mothers ! :)

        3 years ago
  34. I’m french, but I’m currently living in Dublin for few months and I ‘ve find a french phrase that has no equivalent in English. And it gets me very frustrated and awkward in some situations.

    It’s “Bon appétit”. We usually say that as we start eating our meal (like “itadakimasu” in japanese). But you don’t say anything in English ! And it makes me feels so weird when I start eating with someone here, but that’s not the worse.

    Because you can also use it when you see someone else eating, even though you’re not eating at the same time. Like for exemple if you’re entering a room and you see your friend/co-worker eating you would wish him “bon appétit”.
    I think this use could be translated to “have a nice meal” or “enjoy your meal”, but I feel like this is not really used apart from a waitress in a restaurant serving you… (Correct me english speakers from all around the world if I’m wrong)

    And this use gets me being so awkward when I bump into someone at work eating, because I will start staring at him feeling that I need to say something, but then realise I’ve got nothing to say in english. And I always end up saying a weird “Heeeeyyyyyyy”.

    3 years ago
    • you can just say “enjoy your meal.”

      3 years ago
    • You’re totally right, in English we don’t say anything! For me, when I visit my friend’s for supper and her fam begins the meal with praying, I feel super awkward too… As for what you could say in those scenarios, you could always ask ‘how’s your lunch?’ they’ll prolly reply with ‘good’- and that’s the most I can think of what you could say at that time…

      3 years ago
    • lol I have seen americans just use the french saying sometimes, but I think that is usually when they are trying to sound posh. But in portuguese we have that phrase too its : Bom apetite.

      3 years ago
      • I was actually thinking about using my french word for this situation but don’t want to sound posh ;-;

        3 years ago
    • In Polish we say ‘Smacznego’ and it also means ‘have a good meal’ or sth like that. :)

      3 years ago
  35. In Barbados some popular words are”parrow” which is used to described someone who is homeless and is on drugs :P
    “Cah-deer” which means poor guy or something along those lines and “Caw-Blen” which is derived from the phrase “God blind me” and it is used when something surprising or unexpected happened.

    3 years ago
  36. In Dutch/Flemish there is ‘alsjeblief’ which means ‘please’ and is used when politely asking for something or begging (just like in english when using the word ‘please’ ) but it’s also used when you want to be polite when giving something to someone. Example: you ask your friend to pass the salt, ‘alsjeblief’ and he/she gives it to you and says ‘alsjeblief’. It’s kind of like the gesture of supporting your arm Korean people use when being polite when giving someone something, now that I think about it.

    3 years ago
  37. I don’t have much to say, but When Leah was talking about the Word “sorry”, for having a bad time, I couldn’t help but to think in teh south we say “Bless your heart.” I have heard this mentioned Many times meaning “im sorry that happened”, “poor guy”, “wow he’s an idiot”.

    Hey Leah, I know your from Texas, but how about some Southern slang?

    3 years ago
  38. I am Chinese and we have all those family titles too! I remember having to memorize all of them when I was young, especially during Chinese New Year. Me and my cousins are currently in the lowest rank of the family tree so we really need to make sure that we get all the titles right><
    I think there are quite a few Cantonese slangs that can't be translated literally, but I believe that there are Korean phrases that have similar meanings!

    3 years ago
  39. I`m from Bulgaria and we have a lot of family titles to, but to be honest I don`t know most of them ( guilty).
    However we have some untranslatable words and phrases too 
    1) Шуробаджанащина – when you appointment of profitable positions your family member or close friend without the necessary qualities for the position. It`s combination from words for wife’s brother (шурей) and wife’s sister husband (баджанак);
    2) Мани – мани – it can be translation literally “remove- remove”; when the situation is bad and you do not want to talk about it (well, probably they going to explain anyway);
    3) здраве да е – literally “be healthy”; we used that phrase when something go wrong or the way we don’t want but we cannot change it. The meaning is that everything will be ok as far as we are in good health;
    4) много ти здраве – literally „ much health to you”; when someone annoy you and you don’t want to lose your time with him and you say to him to go on his way with health;
    And many more (excuse my english) 

    3 years ago
  40. I’m from Sweden and I know at least two words that can’t be translated into English, fika and lagom.
    Fika, as you might know, is like a mix between a small meal and having a coffee. It doesn’t have to involve coffee, but sometimes it does. Usually you eat some kind of pastries and sometimes a sandwich or some other “real food” first. Sometimes a fika replaces lunch, but at other times it is a small meal between lunch and dinner.
    Lagom is a really good word! It means “not too much but not too little either”. In Sweden we have an expression that says “Lagom är bäst” wich means “The right amount is the best”. For example, you need a lagom amount of sleep. If you sleep too little you will be tired, but also if you sleep for too long you will be tired too.

    3 years ago
    • The meaning of “Fika” you give here looks very close to the meaning of the french word “goûter”. Which is used to refer to a meal between lunch and dinner (usually around 16h) and can involve everything you like, but more often pastries and cakes. But needs to be just a snack, not a full meal.

      It also makes me think that in Ireland (and maybe in UK I don’t know) you can use the word “tea” to refer to the dinner. So you can say “the tea is ready” or “let’s have a tea” to actually mean “the dinner is ready” or “let’s have dinner”.
      That got me really confused in Dublin.

      3 years ago