No love lost in learning French: 7 untranslatable French words

It has often been said that language is the best reflection of a nation’s culture; the most authentic insight into its people’s mindset and weird and wonderful ways of life. Not too surprising when you think about it, given that language has been the one constant over years and years’ worth of changing history, politics, art, geography – the list goes on.. Each individual language is full of clues and pointers as to how its native speakers really think…

So let’s start with our closest European neighbours, the French! We all know the clichés: romantics at heart, lovers of fine food and wine, effortlessly stylish, very proud of their nationality, and let’s face it, perhaps a tad cold and unfriendly??

We’ve picked out 7 unique and untranslatable French words, to see how they might give us a tip or two about our friends across the pond…

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A nation of crazy cat ladies. 7 untranslatable Italian words.

If we thought that Spain was all about sleeping, chilling out with friends and eating well, it’s actually Italy which pips the Spaniards to the post, and the language tells it all. From lazy walks to lounging on the sofa, from snoozing in the shade to snacking on free food, it’s no wonder the Italians are so happy!

Let’s take a look at seven truly Italian turns of phrase and what they tell us about the loud, fiery, pasta-loving romantics. Those of you who’ve visited or lived in Italy before will already be familiar with the first word on our list…

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Crazy in love with the bad guys: 5 untranslatable Portuguese words

Yes it has the beaches, sunny climate, and cultural afternoon nap, but there’s something slightly deeper lying within our stereotypes of Portugal. Wander its streets to hear the fado music play, and you’ll be in tune with a sense of melancholy and deep expression. We’ve chosen 5 truly unique and untranslatable Portuguese terms that show how strong the role is that emotions play within this culture – the difficulty of trying to translate them all perhaps reflects something on our own!!

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3 untranslatable Mandarin phrases and what they tell us about the Chinese

The Chinese culture is often regarded as one of the most alien to our western way of life. If you go to China unable to speak the language, you’re likely to be totally stumped, and not even wild hand gestures and pointing fingers will help you to communicate. The cultural differences are no wonder given the 4,000 odd miles between us, but how does the Chinese language reflect their unique cultural practices? Let’s take a look!

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A logical language full of strange sayings? 7 Untranslatable German words

Not overly similar to the romantic and laidback late-night owls of the Mediterranean, the Germans have developed rather different stereotypes. To name a few, they are (more often than not) direct, punctual, distant, organized, lovers of rules, and the ultimate beer and football fanatics. But does the language they speak function in the same way? We take a look at seven untranslatable German words to test how language can speak a thousand words about its users…

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A nation of affectionate chatterboxes. 6 untranslatable Spanish words

It seems like the Spanish have got their priorities right on. I know whenever I think of Spain, what comes to mind is a mix of siestas, streets teeming with friends sharing a sundowner, late evening meals stretching into the night, tantalizing tapas, and a really authentic party spirit. The siesta, for a start, is a cracking idea (not only because it rhymes with fiesta) and shows how laidback the vida española really is.

We’ve picked out a few more of our favourite Spanish-specific words and phrases, to see if they tell us a thing or two about the sizzling Spanish way of life.

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