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This thing that I want to say but I am not able to say…

Yes, we know that the title sounds like a tongue-twister.

There is a line which everyone who studies a new language must cross: the moment when you accept that every single word cannot be translated exactly.

Learning a language also means learning a culture. Some of the elements of one culture are exclusive to it and can’t be translated. It happens a lot with English: the word “pub” in Spanish is also “pub” (not “bar”) because it describes a very specific kind of venue: generally with lot of different beers, which serves a specific kind of food and where people often gather to get drunk. Another example is “fish and chips”, which cannot be accurately described aso “pescado con patatas fritas”! “Fish and chips” is a very specific way of cooking a very specific kind of fish served with a very specific style of chips.

Possibly the most untranslatable word in Spanish is “sobremesa”. Wordreference offers a pretty accurate definition describing it as “table talk” or “after-dinner conversation”, but they have to use a few words to translate it.

Read this article if you want to know more examples in other languages.

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