Awesome Non-English Words That We Need in the English Language

Non-english-words-with-surprisingly-specific-meanings-03-685x429Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? The problem might not be your own vocabulary, but rather the limitations of the English language. While English is a very expressive language, there are a few situations for which we literally have no words. Here are five words from other places on the globe that we need in the English language.

1. Shemomedjamo

Have you ever overeaten to the point of discomfort simply because the food was so tasty? Americans do this a lot, judging from our obesity rates, and yet we have no word for this situations. The Georgian language does, and it’s a word we should adopt immediately. The next time you finish that giant burger with no regard for tomorrow, you’ll be able to describe your situation in a word.

2. Backpfeifengesicht

Have you ever been annoyed by the mere sight of a certain person? Do you feel a violent impulse when your coworker makes sexist or racist jokes with no regard for the reactions of other people in the room? We all encounter people like this in everyday life but English lacks a word for those people. The German language has the perfect word: Backpfeifengesicht, which translates literally as a face that badly needs a fist.

3. Hikikomori

There are friendly everyday geeks who function in society and then there are people who have withdrawn to their parents’ basement to spend their lives pursuing WoW or perusing Reddit. The Japanese word hikikomori refers to these people: teens or young adults who have given up on most aspects of life to obsess over gaming, internet, television, and other electronic pursuits. English is very ambiguous about geekery, using the same word for an accomplished rocket scientist as for a dude who never puts down the Xbox controller.

4. Schlemazl

Some people have nothing but bad luck. Their cars break down on the way to that big job interview, their girlfriends cheat on them with an entire biker gang, and their roofs collapse at the first raindrop. We gave all known these perpetually unlucky people, but only Yiddish has a word to describe them and their plight. A schlemazl is that poor guy who has nothing but bad luck, often in epic ways.

5. Iktsuarpok

Life in the Arctic is a lonely existence, so guests and other diversions are eagerly awaited. Iktsuarpok is the Inuit word for checking over and over to see if a guest is arriving. While most Americans have never watched the horizon for a dog sled, we’ve all checked the mail repeatedly for a package from Amazon or watched our phone for an important text. Clearly this is a word we need in the English language.

The English language has many borrowed words, so why not these? However, there is hope: Our language is constantly adopting and even creating new words. If enough people use these words in our everyday talk, we soon may be able to describe these and other common situations.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Bureau Translations a leading company that provide translation services for businesses.


One Response to Awesome Non-English Words That We Need in the English Language

  1. Brian Robben June 22, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    As a recent English major graduate, I totally agree that these 5 words are needed! Good post.

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