Words Beyond Translation: Retrouvailles

Words Beyond Translation: Retrouvailles

When I think of a reunion, I imagine two long-lost lovers running towards one another, limbs akimbo as fireworks play in the background. But in reality, encounters between loved ones are much simpler and meaningful than that. Rooted in the word “retrouver,” which...
Words Beyond Translation: Vale la Pena

Words Beyond Translation: Vale la Pena

Lazio, Italy Vale la pena is an Italian expression that has a direct translation but, as a native Italian speaker, I can tell you that it’s not quite the same. Vale la pena means “it’s worth it,” yet there is a keyword in the Italian phrase that is lost in the English...
Words Beyond Translation: Lagom

Words Beyond Translation: Lagom

Skinnskatteberg, Sweden The Swedes are well-known for their minimalist, functional, and sustainable approach to living, and this is reflected in the untranslatable word lagom. Lagom means not too much and not too little: it’s just the right amount, and as the Swedish...
Words Beyond Translation: Saudade

Words Beyond Translation: Saudade

No one had to teach me the meaning of saudade, because I’ve intimately understood it since I could speak. Saudade is a famous Portuguese word: countless articles have been written trying to capture its essence, but none of them have quite explained how it makes me...
Words Beyond Translation: Kefi

Words Beyond Translation: Kefi

I experienced kefi before I even knew it was a word. Kefi accurately captures Greek culture as I’ve experienced it. The word roughly translates to: the spirit of joy, passion, euphoria, enthusiasm, exuberance, frenzy. It’s that overpowering emotion you have when you...
Words Beyond Translation: Rasa

Words Beyond Translation: Rasa

JAVA, INDONESIA As a writer and a traveler, I scavenge the world for words that carry far more meaning than their direct translation. Laden with context, multifaceted, and tailored to culture, these words can only be understood when we experience them. During my visit...

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