Home Arts & Lit Are there words for everything?

Are there words for everything?


Kayley Gilbert helps you to find the word that perfectly describes those situations that leave you speechless.

Did somebody just vybafnout you?
Did somebody just vybafnout you?

As the third most commonly spoken language in the world, after Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, around 365 million people speak English as their first language. Whilst being the most widely spoken language, there are still a few faults with English – odd spellings and frustrating punctuation rules aside – that other languages can make up for.

Ever wanted to sum up a feeling or idea and haven’t been able to find the right words to justify it? Maybe you’ve needed to turn to another language to find le mot juste? This is probably because there are some words that simply don’t exist in the English language. However, they must exist in another language, even if they don’t have direct English translations. Though after reading this list, you’ll wish they did!

1. Kummerspeck (German) – a word used in Germany to describe the excess weight gained from emotional overeating. The best thing about this word – aside from giving you a new way to describe those gorges after a bad day – is that it is literally translated as “grief bacon”. Could that be more perfect?

2. Yuputka (Ulwa) – the “uuuuurrrgggghhh” sensation of feeling something ghostly crawling on your skin.

3. Tartle – the Scottish word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember. Almost onomatopoeic isn’t it?

4. Vybafnout (Czech) – a word that means to jump out and say BOO!!

5. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana) – you bite into a piece of boiling hot pizza, then open your mouth and make a sort of “aaaarrrhhh” sound – we’ve all been there. The Ghanaians have a word for that.

6. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian) – it means to scratch your head in frustration when you can’t quite remember something you’ve forgotten. A word that describes me at least once or twice a day, if not more.

7. Boketto (Japanese) – a word made for those 9am lectures, it means to gaze off vacantly into the distance.

8. Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian) – the attempt to revive an unworkable relationship. Brilliantly, its literal translation is “reheated cabbage”.

9. Nekama (Japanese) – the word used in Japan to describe a man pretending to be a woman on the internet. It is an abbreviation and combination of the Japanese words for “internet” and “male cross dresser”.

10. Have you even gotten up early to hear the birds sing? Ok, me neither, but it is apparently something the Swedes often do, as they have a word for it. In Swedish, gökotta is to go outside early in the morning to hear the birds sing and/or to appreciate nature.

11. Spaegie (Shetland dialect) – pronounced “spray-gee” is a word for the soreness felt in muscles a day or so after working out – something everyone from BodySoc’s LBT classes will know.

12. Firgun is the Hebrew word for getting pleasure out of someone else’s success, without jealousy or resentment. The opposite is the German word Schadenfreude which means to take joy in someone else’s bad luck.

Kayley Gilbert

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