The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren't Translatable Into English

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by KilljoyKlown, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Most translations are approximations. Sure, there are words like "dog" and "telephone" that have exact translations that everyone understands. Or do they?
    That cop has been dogging me ever since I gunned my engine to make it through that yellow light.
    Getting communications around here is like playing the telephone game: what you receive is nothing like the original.​
    When you have to translate a word into a phrase because your own language doesn't have a one-word equivalent, you're surely getting an approximation.

    What if it has two one-word equivalents? "To love" can be translated into Spanish with perfect accuracy as either amar or querer. But querer also means "to want."
     
  2. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    You are exactly right. I sometimes have problems understanding people who speak English, so I have to do the best approximation I can. I can just imagine how much more difficult that translation into another language really is.
     
  3. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    Soon, quite soon, I SHALL post names for kinship in Hindi/Sanskrit. Just wait Fraggle and try to interpret them.
     
  4. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Woohoo, the gauntlet has been thrown!
     
  5. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    No gauntlet, please.

    I have repeatedly posted here that languages can be very very unique and hard to transliterate, what to talk of translation. So called, IEL is based on terms from various lanmguages TRANSLITERATED intoRoman. Fraggle has admitted that he does not not know Sanskrit in any sense, written or spoken. So I wondered how can he authoitatively pronounce on languages worldwise.
     
  6. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Because Fraggle has a supremacy complex. :eek: :eek: :m:


    Anyway, bring on those Sanskrit words!
    Do transliterate into Latin alphabet, though, please.
     
  7. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    I do believe Fraggle has a complex. In fact he has a REDUX too.

    OK. Start with pitamaha. पितामह. DAADAA in colloquial.

    It is made of two words, PITA and Maha. They mean Father and Big Father.

    It only means father of father. Where is mother then?

    What is g'pa for you? Father of either mother or of father. Ambiguous. I will clarify.

    matamaha . मातामह. Father of Mother, Naanaa.

    I have explained these two relationships.

    When my daughter's calls Naanaaji, he means me. But for my g'd I am dadaji. Both g'lovies call me differently, but I KNOW. Of course they might imitate each other.
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    As the sound and timing of the syllables of a word affect its meaning, being able to point to the meaning of word by using a lot of other words in another language is not the same as translating it "accurately". And if you need too many words in the other language, then it is maybe not translatable - if, say, the "punch" of a short syllable was part of its meaning.
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It is well-known that words to denote family relationships are very specific in some languages.
    For example, some Slavic languages originally do not have a general word for "aunt" and "uncle", but have specific words for "mother's sister" as opposed to "father's sister," and "mother's brother" as opposed to "father's brother."
    In Turkish, the paternal grandmother is referred to with a word that means 'father's mother'.


    But given the OP of this thread, this thread isn't for this kind of relationship words, but for words that denote a particular emotional and mental state of the relationship, not biological relation.

    I thought you'd discuss words like prema, bhakti, rasa, rati.
     
  10. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    While the examples given in the OP denoted a particular emotional and mental state of the relationship, it didn't prohibit the biological relations. I find both types of relationship cultural type words to be very interesting, so I am inclined to say they are both welcome in this thread.
     
  11. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    OK.

    What about trying dukha, sukha etc? Or yajna? Or deva?

    Just cannot be translated.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Chinese has different words for older brother/younger brother and older sister/younger sister. The same is true for male and female cousins. You can even specify the order easily enough: "my second-oldest brother," only with a lot fewer syllables. In the old Charlie Chan movies, when Charlie talked about his "number-one son," that was a reasonable translation from Chinese for "oldest son."

    Your father's mother is your po-po, with the word for grandmother reduplicated to distinguish it from all the other words pronounced "po." But your mother's mother is your wai-po, "outside grandmother," i.e., the grandmother from outside the family.

    The Linguistics subforum doesn't get enough activity to worry about veering off track. As long as people stay in the realm of culture and history I'm happy.
     
  13. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    FR, OP definitely does not exclude kinship relational terms.

    Indian languages too have different terms for younger [anuj] and elder [agraj] brothers.

    Indian languages do NOT have any term cousin, or even a sense for it. Cousin brother is found only in India!! My g'kids do not call me as g'pa like term, but as dada or nana, respectively father's father and mother's father.

    In Hindi and Sanskrit, water has about 20 different names.


    Translation could be literal and be accurate, yet the spirit behind it may be completely missing.
     

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