“Lost in translation” is a fascinating facet of the German translation industry and that of any other language translation, too. It has become more and more important as global producers seek to bring their products to more and more potential consumers. Trying to give exact translations of words, phrases and concepts has become a translation eye opener as so often there are simply no precise translations in existence for every word.
This has become so important that books have been published, such as the Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World, which highlights the important relationship between a single word and its meaning.
Linguists have been involved in research for decades trying to discover why exact meanings cannot often be found when a word is translated from one language to another.
Waldeinsamkeit is a German word which in context means ‘solitude’ and ‘close to nature’. It’s such a unique word in fact that a poem has been written about it! German English and English German translators know of many such words in the German language
Culaccino is a unique Italian word that means a mark remaining on a table from the placing of a cool glass.
Iktsuarpok is an Inuit word embedded in the feeling of having to check outside to see if anyone is around.
Komorebi is a Japanese word meaning the sunlight that manages to filter down through a tree and creates a specific relationship between leaves and light.
Pochemuchka is a Russian word meaning somebody who asks many questions with the emphasis on too man
Sobremesa is a Spanish word meaning the conversations that take place between people following a shared meal.
Jayus is an Indonesian word for somebody who has been responsible for telling a bad joke which still causes roars of laughter
Pana Po’o is a Hawaiian word used when you have lost your keys. By scratching your head you remember where you left them!
Dépaysement is a French word meaning when you don’t fit into another place and you feel like a stranger.
Goya is an Urdu word found in both Pakistan and 5 Indian states and it means when you do not believe something and is especially related to storytelling situations.
Mångata is a Swedish word meaning the glimmering effect the moon sometimes has on the surface of water such as a river or lake.
You can see now from these 11 words how difficult it may be to find exact words in other languages that can be used in translation. I believe this would be a great challenge for any translator.