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Multilingualism and the Beauty of Untranslatable Words

Multilingualism is more than a sign of intelligence; it reflects resilience, particularly for those in monolingual environments. This article explores the often-overlooked cultural and linguistic dimensions lost in translation.

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The importance of multilingualism

Multilingualism is often associated with higher intelligence and strong will, especially for those who grow up in monolingual environments.

However, what is frequently overlooked when discussing multilingualism are the rich cultural and linguistic connotations that can be lost in translation.

At Polydioms, we share a passion for languages and their subtle nuances.

Endemic words

We've curated a list of some of the most beautiful words that seem untranslatable, carrying unique cultural meanings:

  • "Hygge" (Danish): The Danes value coziness and warmth so much that they've coined a term, “hygge," which embodies the feeling of intimacy, contentment, and

    coziness. It's a way of living that has inspired people worldwide to embrace a

    cozy lifestyle, whether indoors or outdoors, teaching them to share intimate

    moments with loved ones or cherish quality time alone.

  • “Tsundoku" (積ん読) (Japanese): While bibliophiles around the world can relate to the joy of buying books, the Japanese have a specific term for acquiring them and letting them pile up, unread. This quirky habit speaks volumes about societal respect for knowledge, the intention to learn, and the realities of life's pace often getting in the way.

  • "Saudade" (Portuguese): This term encapsulates a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone absent, intertwined with the realization that the object of longing might never return. More than simple nostalgia, it's a blend of

    melancholy and hope, deeply embedded in Portuguese music, literature, and

    soul. Celebrated in Brazil every 30th of January, "saudade" was defined by the

    linguist Duarte Nunes Leão as the "memory of something with a desire for it."

  • "Ubuntu" (Zulu, South Africa): Ubuntu is an African philosophy that emphasizes communal values, stating "I am because we are," highlighting "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity." It underscores the belief that well-being is

    deeply intertwined with that of others, suggesting a profound connection

    between all individuals. It's a testament to the importance of community, shared

    experiences, and mutual respect in multiple African cultures.

  • "Dépaysement" (French): This term describes the feeling one gets when in a foreign or unfamiliar place—a mix of disorientation and excitement. Think of that tingling sensation

    when stepping into a new city, where everything is fresh and unknown. It's not necessarily negative like 'culture shock,' but more about the adventurous and joyful feeling of uncertainty when out of your element.



These words showcase the beauty of cultural influences within each language. At Polydioms, we focus on cultural awareness when learning or teaching languages. Contrary to some beliefs, learning a language doesn’t solely involve knowing translations; it's about understanding the cultural nuances to experience a new way of living and grasp different concepts foreign to your native tongue.

Need help learning a language? Our online classes are meat to meet your needs and accommodate your pace. Fell free to reach out at [email protected] or at our website .

About the author


Cheyma Rahmeni

As the founder and CEO of Polydioms, Cheyma Rahmeni stands out as an accomplished linguist with over a decade of experience in language teaching, translation, and consulting within the dynamic field of multilingualism. Proficient in more than 5 languages, Cheyma is driven by an unwavering passion for language learning and a deep understanding of its multiple benefits.
Graduating from the Sorbonne University in Paris with a degree in linguistics, Cheyma seamlessly integrated her academic foundation with practical experience, earning a Masters in International Trade and Marketing. Her holistic approach forms the bedrock of her language education philosophy.
Cheyma has not only left an indelible mark in guiding numerous individuals to fluency in French, English, and Arabic but has also actively contributed to the linguistic development of multicultural children, fostering a profound appreciation for language and cultural understanding.
As the visionary behind Polydioms, Cheyma brings a unique approach to language learning. Her methodology is interactive, well-constructed, and efficient, reflecting her commitment to making language education accessible and enjoyable.
Connect with Cheyma for insightful discussions, questions, or personalized language assistance, as she continues to shape the landscape of language education.