29 brilliantly untranslatable words to use as praise


New research has found English is lacking in the language of positivity: in short, we don't have all the right words to describe the subtle express joy as other languages.

The paper, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology by Tim Lomas, lists 216 "untranslatable" words, with the aim of "providing a window onto cultural differences" and "expand[ing] the emotional vocabulary of English speakers.

The report also includes a section of words describing resourcefulness, grit and determination. Need a better way to describe your team's performance during a difficult project last week? Here's what Lomas recommends (or check out his full paper here):

1. ​Sumud (Arabic) - Steadfastness, a determined struggle to persist

2. Sisu (Finnish) - Extraordinary determination in the face of adversity

3. Að jenna (Icelandic) and 4. Sitzfleish (German) - The ability or willingness to persevere through tasks that are hard or even just boring

5. Ganbaru (Japanese) - To do one's best

6. Jaksaa (Finnish), Orka (Swedish) - The importance of being energised

7. Kefi (Greek) - A spirit of joy, passion, enthusiasm, high spirits, frenzy

8. Baraka (Arabic) - Gift of spiritual energy or "sanctifying power" that can be transferred from one person to another

9. Orenda (Huron) - The power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces such as fate

10. Jugaad (Hindi), and 11. Arrangiarsi (Italian) - The ability to "make do" or "get by"

12. Desenrascanço (Portuguese) - To artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation

13. Fingerspitzengefuehl (German) - The ability to think clearly about numerous phenomena and to understand how they relate on multiple levels

14. Sprezzatura (Italian) - A certain nonchalance, "studied carelessness"

15. Saper vivere (Italian) - The ability to handle people and situations with charm, diplomacy and verve

16. Pihentagyú (Hungarian) - Quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions

17. Kombinować (Polish) - Working out an unusual solution to a complicated problem, and acquiring coveted skills or qualities in the process

18. Meraki (Greek) - A sense of ardour, specifically in relation to one's own actions and creations

19. Yuán bèi (Chinese) - A sense of complete and perfect accomplishment

20. Brav (German) - An adjective used to commend children, encompassing qualities including being pleasant, earnest and well-behaved

21. Majime (Japanese) - Someone who is reliable, responsible and able to get things done without causing problems for others

22. Sunao (Japanese) - Meek, docile, submissive - but in a positive way, exemplified in the respect given by a student towards a teacher

23. Szimpatikus (Hungarian) - A decent human being

24. Fēng yùn (Chinese)-Personal charm and graceful bearing

25. Lagom (Swedish) - A sense of moderation, doing anything by just the right degree

26. Ilunga (Tshiluba) - A person who is ready to forgive abuse the first time, and tolerate it a second time - but never a third time (incidentally, rated by linguists as the world's most difficult word to translate)

27. Ikigai (Japanese) - A reason for being, the feeling that life is good and meaningful

28. Genki (Japanese) - Being healthy, energetic and full of life

29. Joie de vivre (French) - A zest for life, a knack of knowing how to live

Well done, team.

(Source: Giphy)

Full story: 29 brilliantly untranslatable words to use as praise: City A.M.

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