30 November 2012

word nerd

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"Untranslatable Words" by  Fucshia MacAree. Prints are available in her shop!

It's fascinating which complex ideas different languages have distilled into single phrases. I think I could spend another lifetime studying linguistics — traveling the world, recording dying-out dialects, exploring how the human mind has created so many distinct pronunciations for the same familiar things.

I recently "Americanized" a book for work and was surprised at how difficult I found it. I thought because of way I'm alert to slang and spellings different from my own, it would be fairly easy — but instead my eyes glided over UK phrases too complacently, as if I were eager to incorporate these puzzle pieces of culture into my own lexicon.

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5 comments:

  1. I find this fascinating too. There are certain words in Hebrew that when translated into English become a paragraph instead! It's amazing what we can do with words - how we can distil and also expand meaning through them.

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  2. vvvv - I know right? So cool.

    Hila - A paragraph?! Incredible! It really is amazing in so many ways - psychologically, culturally, aesthetically.

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  3. Oh, these are lovely. Such a clever idea. It is amazing what we, as a species, can do with language. There's some really interesting stuff about the theories and politics of translation - I should read up on it. I wonder what an untranslatable English word would be...

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  4. I got a great kick out of this! Languages are fascinating. These words are proof.

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