The magic of “untranslatable” words

During my research for a translation, I recently came across an article in “Scientific American” on untranslatable words. This in turn led me to the utterly fascinating website “The positive lexicography” created and maintained by Dr. Tim Lomas on which he collects (yes, you can contribute!) words related to well-being from other languages that are “untranslatable” into English.

There are various options to view the ever-growing index: by alphabet, by theme, by language, and as interactive lexicography.

I’ve only just scratched the surface, and I’m already in love! I had actually considered studying etymology at some point, precisely because the meaning of words and how they came to be has always fascinated me. So for someone to actually collect those wonderful, pesky words without one-word equivalents in other languages is like a dream come true.

There’s also an introductory TEDx Talks video by him that starts with “Words are incredible things” – I couldn’t agree more!

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