If you speak a language other than English, you've probably noticed that some words are impossible to translate. In German, for example, FERNWEH means "being homesick for a place you have never been to." And in Indonesian, JAYUS means "a joke that is so unfunny (and told so poorly) that you can't help but laugh." Neither of these has a direct English translation... which is one of the beautiful things about languages: they capture the world in different shapes and shades. (For more examples, check out these awesome illustrations: New Zealand artist Anjana Iyer's 30 untranslatable words here
, and UK artist Ella Francis Sanders' untranslatables here
So, what is the English lexicon missing?
William Shakespeare is famous for inventing new words when the English dictionary wasn't up to snuff. By changing nouns and adjectives into verbs, bridging words, and playing with latin roots, Shakespeare invented over 1,700 of our common words. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Take a leaf out of Shakespeare's book and coin a new English term.
- In King Henry IV, Shakespeare coins the term DEAFENING to describe the raging force of the wind: "Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them / With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds..." (Origin: Old English: deaf)
- In King John, Shakespeare invents PERPLEXED with this line: "I am perplex’d, and know not what to say." (Origin: Latin: perplexus, which means “involved, confused, or intricate.”)
Have you ever had an experience or feeling that was hard to sum up in a single word? Well this is your chance to enrich the English language. Give us the word, its definition, and its origin (if there is one), and then use it in a sentence or paragraph. (And if you're on a roll, don't stop at one!)
Thanks Sunshine Rose and Jeremy for these beautiful new words.
by Sunshine Rose
by Jeremy Houle