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English Concepts That Don’t Translate Well Into Other Languages

By July 9, 2018General
English Concepts

The Oxford English Dictionary endeavours to store all known English words and now has some 600,000 words and 3.5 million quotations in its book of English phrases and concepts. There are so many distinct words that don’t have any equivalents in other languages that these languages borrow them and use them as part of their own repertoire of words and quotations rather than provide a language translation from the English translation.

Here are some English Phrases and Concepts that Simply don’t seem to have any Real Equivalence in other Languages and Pose too many Difficulties to find a Language Translation.

1. Auto-tune

Auto-Tune was a word developed by Antares Audio Technologies in the late 1990s. It is a pitch-correcting software and is commonly used to make performances or recordings sound in tune. It can also be used to make a singer’s voice sound like a robot. There are few languages that can provide an equivalent language translation for this word.

2. Compromise

In 2004, Christopher Moore a linguist published a book called “Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World.” He alludes to the word “compromise” in relation to the fact that there is no equivalent word in Arabic.

3. Procrastination

In the television and social media era, procrastination has seeped its way into our language. It originally comes from the Latin verb procrastinare, meaning “moving something forward from one day to the next.” There are a few languages that are able to use a single word that means the same as procrastination.

4. Selfie

The word ‘selfie’ was the Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” in 2013. This term was first used in Australia but grew in popularity with the rise of social media and smartphones. Because there is no one word equivalent in other languages it has become a loan word for many languages so its structure isn’t changed and no language translation has been made of the word.

5. Spam

‘Spam’ in English refers to messages that are sent to a recipient by email or through other internet platforms such as unasked for advertisements or messages sent via email or over the Internet. There are few languages which have introduced a word with the same meaning in their own language so it’s used as a loan word instead.

These are just a few English phrases and concepts that can’t find an equivalent language translation. No doubt there are other words in other languages where there is no appropriate language translation.

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