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Ilunga: most untranslatable word in the world

It would be more accurate to call it "hardest to translate into English." According to Today's Translation, who conducted the poll of translators that led to this conclusion, the top ten hardest words to translate [with definitions in English] are

  1. ilunga [Tshiluba word for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time. Note: Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in south-eastern Congo, and Zaire]
  2. shlimazl [Yiddish for a chronically unlucky person]
  3. radioukacz [Polish for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain]
  4. naa [Japanese word only used in the Kansai area of Japan, to emphasise statements or agree with someone]
  5. altahmam [Arabic for a kind of deep sadness]
  6. gezellig [Dutch for cosy]
  7. saudade [Portuguese for a certain type of longing]
  8. selathirupavar [Tamil for a certain type of truancy]
  9. pochemuchka [Russian for a person who asks a lot of questions]
  10. klloshar [Albanian for loser]

And here are the top ten most difficult to translate out of English [with one-word etymologies]:

  1. plenipotentiary {Latin]
  2. gobbledegook [onomatopoeic]
  3. serendipity {Arabic]
  4. poppycock [Dutch]
  5. googly [unknown]
  6. Spam [™]
  7. whimsy [unknown]
  8. bumf [Middle English]
  9. chuffed [onomatopoeic]
  10. kitsch [German]

[via Plain English Campaign newsletter]

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