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Lost in Translation



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Komorebi, noun: the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees, often invoking a feeling of nostalgia or longing (Japanese). Hanyauku, verb: the act of walking on tiptoes across warm sand (Rukwangali). Hyggelig, adjective: a feeling or spirit associated with comfort, warmth, and intimacy (Danish). 

None of these words have a clear English equivalent—they include complex meanings and associations extending beyond these one-sentence descriptions.

The languages we speak make up a big part of the cultures we celebrate. Summed up perfectly by Italian director and screenwriter Federico Fellini: “A different language is a different vision of life.” Thus, various language-specific words can be an homage to historical events, cultural and religious traditions, or community values. 

Dear writers, is there a word or expression in your mother tongue (or in another language you find fascinating) that lacks an English counterpart? Tell us the word, and research its meaning, etymology, and cultural significance. Next, try your best to creatively define it in English; with any examples, associations, descriptions, and metaphors necessary!

For further inspiration, check out these phenomenal pieces from our Community Ambassadors mindfruit, thrisingwriter, seaomelette, and sci-Fi!

[This prompt was designed by Community Ambassador sherry171.]