Friday, August 17th, 2012 In Blog, Fun stuff, Swedish, Translation By Stephanie
Translate VS untranslatable

Untranslatable maze

  As a translation agency, we should be used to dealing with words. However, when translating a document or a blog post we often come across the same question: “What does that really mean anyway?” The funny thing is that you would get a different opinion from each person willing to answer your question and this would usually initiate a debate. With around 6,912 officially listed languages from all around the world, it can create a great confusion of feelings, emotions, wrong food orders and old language lost in a new generation, what can be better than an untranslatable word? Another untranslatable word. Since we are based in Istanbul, I will start with a ubiquitous expression in Turkey, from brushing your teeth to driving on chaotic roads, “Inshallah, I’ll make it through the day”. To make a long story short, it goes like this: “My life is so complicated and I don’t want to make the wrong decision, so I would rather let somebody else do it for me.” Another Turkish word which has no English equivalent is “Hallederiz,” literally, “We’ll manage it.” But anyone unlucky enough to hear this at work knows what it really means: “I understand that this needs to be done, but I won’t do anything and hope that it magically gets done somehow…Hallederiz…” Now, please translate these into your own language! Emotions and feelings do have their share of weird and untranslatable words as well, how about I ‘cafuné‘ my girlfriend/boyfriend? In Brazil, it is used to describe the act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair. Tenderly combing? As for our cheerful Danes, “lykke” is the ultimate state of happiness…and “hyggelig” is the ultimate state of coziness and comfort. Life could not be better! – especially after tasting some Spanish dulce de leche” – a sweet delicacy between toffee, caramel, chocolate, nougat, with a hint of honey…well everything sweet and sticky that would ease any heart aches. Life is just so hyggeligt! And what about the word “brabble“? It sounds like a version of Scrabble played in a bar, but it actually means to quarrel noisily about trifles, brawling and squabbling meaninglessly. I can see myself using it as, “Stop brabbling about that stupid one-too-many drink I had last night. It’s no big deal, really.” When it comes to describing tricky emotions, getting the right feeling, food or writing stuff about other countries, the best is to leave it to the professionals. If you need a weird translation to be done, contact us and enjoy some gezelligheid*” while we take care of the work! * A Dutch word that represents a state of comfort and coziness – being at home, with friends, with loved ones, or general togetherness. But not as ultimate as hyggelig.

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