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Sayings That Do Not Translate

Sayings That Do Not Translate

There are 6500 languages spoken in the world today. The most popular and spoken languages include English, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, French, and Arabic. Each language is unique and has different dialects depending on the region. Translations are an important aspect of global communications; however, some terms and statements cannot be translated. Below are some examples from around the world:

  • Desvelado is Spanish for not being able to sleep
  • Pochemuchka is Russian for someone who asks too many questions
  • Uffda is Swedish for when someone is in pain
  • Bakku-Shan is Japanese for someone who appears to be pretty from behind but not at the front
  • Fisselig is German for when you are too flustered or stressed to function
  • Packesel is German for someone who looks after everyone’s luggage
  • Eigneur-terraces is French for someone who sits in a coffee shop, for a long time but does not spend much money
  • Sobremesa in Spanish for the time spent at the table after eating


It is very normal to come across terms which cannot be translated, hence, can be quite difficult for the linguistic experts to come up with an alternative. In the world of translations – we often come across the need to communicate a message and the translation cannot be completed due to the same issue; we, therefore, follow the process of transcreation.


What Is Transcreation?

Transcreation is a process where the content has a specific meaning within the same culture or tradition and translating the content would lose the creative intent of the source or locale’s message. You can read more about transcreation.



It is important to find a translation company that will not only provide you with translations, but also transcreation if the content merits it.  By using native speaking and professional translators and copywriters to truly reflect the meaning of your message, you will ensure you message is well received and your audience understands it.  Your translation company should be able to guide you on the types of translators and copywriters  required for a project that needs transcreation and not just translation.