Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

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Linguaphile
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Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-12-21, 16:51

Do you know of Estonian words, which have no direct English translation (at least not a translation that is an English word rather than a longer phrase)? I thought this might be an interesting topic. A few I know of are:

Viitsima = to feel like doing something ('ma ei viitsi' = I don't feel like it, I can't be bothered)
Lang = relationship between a person's father and mother-in-law, or between the person's mother and father-in law
Nohu = excess mucous in the nose
Leilitama = to throw water on heated stones to make steam
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
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ainurakne
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby ainurakne » 2016-12-22, 10:32

Linguaphile wrote:Nohu = excess mucous in the nose
Aren't you describing tatt? Nohu is more like an illness or health condition ~ inflammation of nasal mucous membrane. Also, the rhinoviral infection or common cold is often referred to just as nohu.

I think I have never used nor heard anyone using the word leilitama. Usually only leili viskama and leili võtma. Also, visiting the "steam/hot"-room is mostly referred to as laval käima instead of leiliruumis käima.
Nevertheless, I think leilitama is more synonymous to leili võtma than to leili viskama, so it's more like 'baking oneself in the hot steam of sauna' instead of 'throwing the water on stones to make steam'.


I would propose the following word (although I'm afraid I'm not able to explain it in English very well):

tubli - a positive adjective that is usually used for living beings: resultative/skillful(/at an expected level) in one's field or actions because of one's hard work and efforts.
When used as a praise word, it could be translated as Good job!, Well done!, Way to go!, Good for you!, etc...
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Linguaphile
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-12-22, 17:00

ainurakne wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:Nohu = excess mucous in the nose
Aren't you describing tatt? Nohu is more like an illness or health condition ~ inflammation of nasal mucous membrane. Also, the rhinoviral infection or common cold is often referred to just as nohu.

I wasn't sure how to write the translation for nohu, but tatt does have a translation: snot. Other than maybe rhinitis we don't have a direct equivalent for nohu, since it can be used for the common cold but also for seasonal allergies and for "the sniffles" (especially the kind that persists and won't go away, I think). In part I am judging this by the fact that my Estonian friends often have nohu for weeks on end in winter while my English speaking friends who get "colds" are usually better in a week, sometimes "my cold is gone, but I still have the sniffles and a little cough". Meanwhile the nohu-sufferers may be feeling a bit better but they still have nohu. Then they get the same nohu in spring or summer while English-speakers have allergies. So, other than the aforementioned rhinitis (which outside the medical community is used far less often than nohu) I think there's not really a true equivalent word.

ainurakne wrote:I think I have never used nor heard anyone using the word leilitama. Usually only leili viskama and leili võtma. Also, visiting the "steam/hot"-room is mostly referred to as laval käima instead of leiliruumis käima.
Nevertheless, I think leilitama is more synonymous to leili võtma than to leili viskama, so it's more like 'baking oneself in the hot steam of sauna' instead of 'throwing the water on stones to make steam'.

At first I was going to put leil instead of leilitama. You can translate leil as "steam" or "vapor," but that's aur, too. Leil is a specific type of steam and English has no such distinction. I looked it up in Saagpaak's dictionary to see how he translated it before posting ("steam in a bathhouse, sauna steam or vapour") and that's where I cam across leilitama which, like you, I have never used or heard anyone using. But Saagpaak entry just says "leilitama vt. leili viskama". I should have just stuck with leil instead of posting a less-familiar one.

ainurakne wrote:I would propose the following word (although I'm afraid I'm not able to explain it in English very well):
tubli - a positive adjective that is usually used for living beings: resultative/skillful(/at an expected level) in one's field or actions because of one's hard work and efforts.

Wow! I did not know that meaning. I've heard it used as a praise word, but I just assumed it was slang and originally had some other, unrelated meaning (kind of like lahe being used the way we say "cool!" in English). I didn't realize that this was actually the literal meaning of tubli as well. Just checked a few dictionaries, they have "diligent, proficient, mettlesome, efficient". Honestly, I've probably mis-used this word sometimes, thinking it was more synonymous with suurepärane than it is; I didn't realize the meaning was that specific to work and effort, and I've probably called some things tubli when they were actually suurepärane.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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Naava
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby Naava » 2016-12-22, 18:51

Linguaphile wrote:Lang = relationship between a person's father and mother-in-law, or between the person's mother and father-in law

This was an interesting word! Do you know where I could find more relationship terms in Estonian?

Also, what is the difference between the sniffles and the common cold? I've always thought it's the same thing!

(Btw in Finnish löylyttää means 'to beat up someone', and for a few seconds I was very suspicious of that leilitama. :lol:)
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby ainurakne » 2016-12-22, 21:16

Linguaphile wrote:I wasn't sure how to write the translation for nohu, ... I think there's not really a true equivalent word.
Indeed, I have never known what to say when speaking about nohu in English. :roll:
I'm also one of those sufferers of especially long nohu. At least I was in my childhood.

Linguaphile wrote:You can translate leil as "steam" or "vapor," but that's aur, too. Leil is a specific type of steam and English has no such distinction.
I think the meaning of leil was once along the lines of spirit or soul, so it is indeed a very special kind of steam.

Linguaphile wrote:I've heard it used as a praise word, but I just assumed it was slang and originally had some other, unrelated meaning (kind of like lahe being used the way we say "cool!" in English).
I think the slang-ish meaning of tubli is something like large, great, robust, etc...

By the way, do you know how to actually translate lahe into English literally?

Naava wrote:Do you know where I could find more relationship terms in Estonian?
There is a list in Wikipedia. Seems to be quite comprehensive at first glance (at least I didn't knew some of them either). :blush:
Eesti keel (et) native, English (en) I can manage, Suomi (fi) trying to learn, Pусский (ru)&Deutsch (de) unfortunately, slowly fading away

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Naava
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby Naava » 2016-12-22, 21:30

ainurakne wrote:
Naava wrote:Do you know where I could find more relationship terms in Estonian?
There is a list in Wikipedia. Seems to be quite comprehensive at first glance (at least I didn't knew some of them either). :blush:

Oh, thanks! Looks very good indeed. :D Could you tell me which words were new to you / are not so common anymore?
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ainurakne
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby ainurakne » 2016-12-23, 20:19

I hadn't heard õved (which seems to be quite new) and kõuk before. I think lell and sõtse are not used very often anymore (except by older people) - tädi and onu seem to be more common for people from both sides. And nääl, käli, küdi, nadu, langud and kälis are words that I have heard very rarely and can't remember which is which.
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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-12-24, 2:17

ainurakne wrote:By the way, do you know how to actually translate lahe into English literally?

"Airy" or "roomy," I think, but because it has so many definitions, also "refreshing", "free", "calm," "loose," "comfortable" and so on... depending on which definition is being used.

ainurakne wrote:I think lell and sõtse are not used very often anymore (except by older people) - tädi and onu seem to be more common for people from both sides.

Have you ever heard lell used for "doll" in Estonian? I can't even remember where now, but I'm certain I've learned that from somewhere as a synonym for nukk, except that it's not in the dictionary that way. So now I'm wondering if lell really is sometimes used for "doll" (in children's language or something like that, maybe?) or maybe I'm just losing my mind? :?
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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Re: Untranslatable words / tõlkimatuid sõnu

Postby ainurakne » 2016-12-24, 8:57

Linguaphile wrote:"Airy" or "roomy," I think, but because it has so many definitions, also "refreshing", "free", "calm," "loose," "comfortable" and so on... depending on which definition is being used.
Ah, yes. the meaning of lahe can vary considerably in different situations. For some reason, I was only thinking about the opposite of tight/cramped.

Linguaphile wrote:Have you ever heard lell used for "doll" in Estonian? I can't even remember where now, but I'm certain I've learned that from somewhere as a synonym for nukk, except that it's not in the dictionary that way. So now I'm wondering if lell really is sometimes used for "doll" (in children's language or something like that, maybe?) or maybe I'm just losing my mind? :?
Maybe it's a mutation or mishearing of lelu (toy)? Other than that, I've got nothing.

By the way: Häid jõule kõigile!
Eesti keel (et) native, English (en) I can manage, Suomi (fi) trying to learn, Pусский (ru)&Deutsch (de) unfortunately, slowly fading away


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