Impossible to Translate

Another fun list of ten difficult-to-translate words. It makes one wonder—how exactly do words like this get adopted into discourse. Surely English-speaking people have a lot of these same situations and dilemmas, even if we don’t have the single words that denote them.

Ilunga
From the Tshiluba language spoken in south-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, this word has been chosen by numerous translators as the world’s most untranslatable word. Ilunga indicates a person who is ready to forgive any abuse the first time it occurs, to tolerate it the second time, but to neither forgive nor tolerate a third offense.


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