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Old 07-29-2007, 04:07 PM   #1
craig johnston
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words we need

i've recently been struck by the number of german words which are not translatable into english, everyone knows about schadenfreude, but here are some of my other favourites:

begeistert - is usually translated as enthusiasm, but it is much more than that. the geist is the soul/spirit, and the word implies that you are so into something that it has entered your soul.

ausstrahlung - it's how you express your inner personality in public, it has to do with glowing, beaming, giving off rays of light, it's fantastic and wonderful and impossible to translate into english. if you describe someone as having a nice ausstrahlung, it's like saying they are charismatic and attractive in some way that isn't necessarily physical, but is extremely positive.

feierabend - celebration evening. it means the end of the working day, time to relax and have fun, especially on fridays of course. who said the germans were serious?

maybe you know some more stephi? anyone else know any words in other languages which could fill a gap which english fails to reach?

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Old 07-29-2007, 04:24 PM   #2
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my personal favorite:

satori

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Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment. The word literally means "understanding". It is sometimes loosely used interchangeably with Kensho, but Kensho refers to the first perception of the Buddha-Nature or True-Nature, sometimes referred to as "awakening". Kensho is not a permanent state of enlightenment, but rather a clear glimpse of the true nature of creation. Satori on the other hand refers to "deep" or lasting enlightenment. According to D. T. Suzuki, "Satori is the raison d'etre of Zen, without which Zen is no Zen. Therefore every contrivance, disciplinary and doctrinal, is directed towards satori."[1] Satori can be found in every moment of life, it is wrapped in all daily activities, its goal to unwrap them to see satori.

As an analogy, we may think of a baby when it first walks. After much effort, it stands upright, finds its balance and walks a few steps (kensho), then falls. After continued effort the child will one day find that it is able to walk all the time (satori).
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:49 PM   #3
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There's a word in Russian that means tourist sites, like landmarks you'd take a visitor to. I'm too lazy to crack out the Cyrillic at the moment, but it hardly matters -- It's 8 syllables and I understand it's translated syllable by syllable from German. Maybe you or Stephi know it?
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brightpearl View Post
There's a word in Russian that means tourist sites, like landmarks you'd take a visitor to. I'm too lazy to crack out the Cyrillic at the moment, but it hardly matters -- It's 8 syllables and I understand it's translated syllable by syllable from German. Maybe you or Stephi know it?
My colleague has just written it up for me:

dostoprimechatelnosti --> Sehenswürdigkeit i.e. something worth seeing)
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Stephi_B View Post
dostoprimechatelnosti --> Sehenswürdigkeit i.e. something worth seeing)
That's it! I should have transliterated the Russki myself for reference, but for some reason I find that rather difficult. Does that have the same "sehnen" root as "sehnsucht"?

We have both of these words in English, but we don't have this interesting nuance:
Mukha (муха) means "fly" (the insect, not the verb) with the stress on the first syllable, and "torture" with the stress on the second.

Sometimes even when you have the words with precisely the same meaning alone, you can't ever achieve the same nuanced context.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:33 AM   #6
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^ No these are two different verbs 'sehen' = 'see' and 'sehnen' = 'yearn' etc.

But in the connection of Sehnsucht and Sehenswürdigkeit a very, very German word comes to my mind:

Fernweh

literally far-hurt or far-pain, meaning the (painful or at least very deep) longing to visit foreign lands.

You speak/learn Russian? Started to (on my own after I saw my time-schedule would not allow me to visit a proper course at uni) with school books (Cyrillic I knew anyhow - extensive hanging-out with East Europeans since childhood ). Unfortunately I came off after being through the first ~ 2/3 of volume 1 (of two). But I get my daily oral understanding lessons here in office when Vanya phones with his wife Whenever I have more time (oh when, oh when..) I wanna pick it up again. Such a beautiful language full of colour and nuances! If there weren't this six cases (already struggle with our four sometimes being grown up with grammatically quite individual Bavarian).

Love this book here: Dictionary of Russian Slang & Colloquial Expressions
OK in parts quite saucy stuff, particularly the 1001 different ways to use the most notorious 3-letter word хуй, but extremely interesting (if you don't know it already).

Last edited by Stephi_B : 07-30-2007 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:50 PM   #7
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There is a very nice expression in french "être bien dans sa peau" which literally means 'to be well in one's skin'. It has no equivalent (that I know of) in English. It translates a sense of well being, and inner peace. Usually when we refer to adolescents we say that they are not "bien dans leur peau" because they are in a constant state of restless agitation.

On a another level, being "bien dans sa peau" implies that at the present moment your mind is in your body and not wandering somewhere else. You are here, and you feel well.

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Old 07-29-2007, 04:52 PM   #8
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^We say that, don't we? "Comfortable in your own skin", isn't it? I know smidges of several languages, and I get confused sometimes...
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Old 07-29-2007, 04:59 PM   #9
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pearly - don't we just say sights? as in, 'i'm gonna show you the sights of novosibirsk baby!'

satori and feierabend = nirvana
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Old 07-29-2007, 05:04 PM   #10
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^Yes, but I'm told there's a hella long word in German that is good for trivia purposes...
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Old 07-29-2007, 06:16 PM   #11
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and where would we be without wabisabi?
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:29 AM   #12
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Cool thread!

Actually German would be a wonderful language - if it weren't that most of my fellow country(wo)men speak it in such a hard sounding way.

The word Augenblick (can mean among others: moment, instant, wink, jiffy) is beautiful and interesting imo. The translation is eye-view, and this doubling of 'to see' thus includes an active, if not intense, partaking in the referred to 'moment'.

Sehnsucht / sehnsüchtig is another good one, LEO dictionary offers 'aspiration', 'longing' and 'yearning'. But besides 'sehnen' (longing, wishing, yearning) the word also contains 'suchen' (searching), but in the same way 'Sucht' / 'süchtig' (addiction, addicted). No wonder it was quite the keyword of Romanticism.

One of my favourite words is the old-fashioned Kleinod (actually it got voted for as most beautiful endangered German word this year --> a link). It means little-property and the trivial meaning is treasure or gem. But a Kleinod can be basically anything, not necessary precious materially or in the eyes of other people.

Something one cannot translate is the Brazilian-Portuguese tudo bem (all is good, it's alright) as it sums up the total Brazilian philosophy of life in two words. The freshly graduated Brazilian engineer who used to live at our place some months when I was a kid (my stepfather #1 had picked her up at a highway stop, oh he actually often did pick up people and bring them home... not totally selfless in her case - he had a construction firm back then ) tried to explain us. But I suppose you have to be born and bred Brazilian to really get the gist.
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Old 08-05-2007, 08:31 AM   #13
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ausstrahlung - uitstraling

être bien dans sa peau - goed in je vel zitten

vorgestern - eergisteren

ubermorgen - overmorgen

geisterfahrer - spookrijder

gemutlich - gezellig

sehenswürdigkeit - bezienswaardigheid

augenblick - ogenblik

kleinod - kleinood

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ
of course, it works the other way too. german doesn't seem to have a good translation of naughty, quite possibly my favourite word ever (i can't quite decide between naughty and cheeky).

how do they survive?
in dutch: stout.



i find it hard to translate the dutch word "lekker" into english. you use it when something tastes good (food, drink), feels good (weather, soft pillows, sex, anything really), smells good, etc!
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:26 AM   #14
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^Hm. Pleasurable? That's not quite right, tho'. In English, "pleasureable" has a "naughty" vibe.

More Pelorian (regular/symmetrical when some degree of irregularity would be normal) as per my post on last page:
Stepford wives


The one guy in the middle is a real weirdo.


My fave:
Talking points. You'd expect some variation, but apparently the press has been genetically altered.
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Old 08-05-2007, 04:43 PM   #15
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^^ Dutch is something like a cute-sounding German Lekker you're back Frieda!

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i find it hard to translate the dutch word "lekker" into english. you use it when something tastes good (food, drink), feels good (weather, soft pillows, sex, anything really), smells good, etc!
Interesting, we got the same word lecker but apply it to a smaller range of things: to 'what tastes/smells good' just the same, but in the category 'what feels good' strangely only to men('s bodies, asses in particular ) as far I heard/used it. Must do some investigations on why Germans don't think women, weather, soft pillows, sex etc. simply lecker! Should start in a male toilet... (my otherwise very open guys at work did never use the word out in the open terrain, so maybe one has to dig deeper...) Or, do you know something, CJ? About calling chicas lecker?
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