Studying Foreign Languages

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

keep calm and learn foreign languageAre you guys studying any foreign languages? Of course I understand if you are a citizen of the United States or any other English speaking country, it might seem there is no special need in studying them, since almost all the world speaks English. But what if I told you studying foreign languages is not just about being able to communicate with other nations? What if studying other languages can significantly affect your English, enrich it, and make your speech–both written and oral–much more diverse and persuasive?

The reason why I believe in this is foreign languages have a lot of terms, phrases, and expressions which are absent in the English language, and which are capable of expressing a complicated gamma of meanings in just a couple of words–or even one word. I am writing this, because at the moment I am studying three foreign languages: Japanese, Hindi, and Russian. To prove my point, I’ve prepared a short list for you, which contains words from languages from all over the world. Enjoy!

1. Sobremesa (Spanish). This word means having a conversation around the table after having lunch.

2. Tartle (Scottish). Imagine yourself having to introduce two people to each other. Suddenly you realize you cannot remember the names of one of these people (or both of them). Would you panic? I bet you would. That’s what tartle is.

3. Myötähäpeä (Finnish). Have you ever been in a situation when someone else did something stupid in public, but the person who felt ashamed for it were you? Well, this is the word for this situation.

4. Iktsuarpok (Inuit). I love this one. Imagine you are waiting for someone–your friend or spouse–to come to your place, but this person doesn’t come. You wait–they don’t come. You start losing patience, look out the window every five minutes, go to the door hoping they are at your threshold… This is iktsuarpok.

5. Lagom (Swedish). Something which is not too big, not too small, not too light, not too heavy–just fine.

6. Ilunga (Kongo). This word means a person who can be patient for a long, long time, calmly tolerating poor treatment, until finally bursting with righteous anger and kicking everybody’s… uhm.

7. Utepils (Norwegian). A nice bottle of cold beer you can drink outside of the house.

8. Abbiocco (Italian). This word means a sensation of pleasant drowsiness after having meals.

9. Hyggelig (Danish). A combination of friendliness, coziness, calmness, safety, and caring. It is a feeling… I suppose.

10. L’esprit d’escalier (French). I bet this happened to you as well. Literally it can be translated like, “wits on the stairs.” This expression means a situation when you don’t know what else to say while arguing, but on your way home you suddenly come up with a super-witty and sharp reply. Oh well…

P.S. Oh yeah, and by the way, how many words can you come up with to describe snow? Inuit people have about 30 of them.


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