Multilingualism

The Joys of Speaking Too Many Languages

You know when there’s a word right at the edge of your brain, and you’re trying to fish it out so you can write it down, but it just won’t quite come out?

I get that a lot. My friends are used to messages from me asking questions like “Hey, what’s that word that means… like… ‘thing’?” I am not always eloquent, it’s true. But I try.

This becomes even more confusing when you speak several languages, and there are some terms that can’t be properly translated. What is the English word for dépaysement, anyway?

And then there are the days when your brain’s just strange. Today, for example. I was writing an article which mentioned someone whose bio says that she’s a “half jet-setter”. I thought this was a pretty good term, and I wanted to use it in my article, but I also wanted to attribute it to her. Then my brain stopped speaking all the languages.

“What’s the English word for…” I searched around in my brain, trying to dredge up the concept I was looking for. “Selbstgenannte,” I finally came up with. “Self-named” would be the direct translation of this term, which is definitely a real word in German. OK, I thought, pulling up WordReference and typing it in, I’ll just find out.

Nope. Not a word.

So now I’ve made up a word in German, because I knew there wouldn’t be one in English, and it felt like a concept that might have a German name.

Now I’m even more confused and I still have to finish this damn article. In the meantime, have a list of pretty words in various languages that don’t translate into other languages, courtesy of the immensely talented Anjana Iyer.

#lifegoal
#lifegoal

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There should definitely be an English word for this, considering the state of the London underground at rush hour...
There should definitely be an English word for this, considering the state of the London underground at rush hour…

scar

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