Words we wish we had in English
Coming up with a clever reply too late, forgetting names, eating to patch a heart-break, sun lamp overdosing: other languages have perfect expressions for our foibles. Here are 10 of our favourites
6. Nunchi (Korean)
While someone who has l’esprit de l’escalier comes up with the right thing to say at the wrong time, a person with nunchi has a natural ability to know what the wrong thing to say at any given moment is and the wit not to say it. Nunchi translates as “eye-measure” and is important in a society such as Korea where status and respect are crucial and saying the wrong thing can have calamitous consequences. A person is a nunchi eoptta if they are particularly good at putting their foot in things.
7. Bothántaíocht (Irish)
Visiting friends or neighbours just to collect tittle tattle is as a very Irish trait. There isn’t (always) badness in it, mostly it’s just nosiness.
You might think you are above such carry-on but if it is extended to non-physical visitations too you might have a different view. If you ever find yourself texting or tweeting someone just to collect some juicy gossip about someone or something there’s a bit of a Bothánach in you.
8. Slampadato (Italian)
If you are obsessed with being bronzed to the extent that you have lost all understanding of what it means to be tangoed you are most likely a slampadato - an unnaturally orange slampadato.
9. Boketto (Japanese)
You might think no country in the world would be bothered coming up with a word for absentmindedly staring into the middle distance thinking of nothing at all but you would be wrong. The Japanese have one – we’re not sure if they use this word as a positive or a negative but we think such idle gazing is to be commended.
10. Sgiomlaireachd (Scots Gaelic)
You are absolutely starving, have had a bad day at work and are just about to sit down to your dinner when the doorbell rings.
Of course it does. The people who have an uncanny ability to ruin your dinner with their ill-timed visits are known by our Scottish cousins as sgiomlaireachd. We just call them the guy from Airtricity who wants a few moments of our time to tell us what a great deal he can do for us on our electricity.