MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

5 untranslatable words about friendship February 9, 2012

In time for Valentine’s Day, here are 5 more “untranslatable” words, describing our friendships and non-romantic relationships. My friend Justine Ickes from the blog “Culture Every Day” wrote about untranslatable words describing our romantic relationships. It seems people all over the world express their relationships in different ways!

Untranslatable words for friendship

In La ‘Kesh – Mayan:
“We are different faces of each other” or “I am another you”. These words are spoken with deep reverance as recognition of the divine within another person – similar to the phrase Namaste.

Nakama – Japanese:
Nakama is used to refer to friends who one considers family. Your “crowd” or group of friends will stand by you no matter what.

Szimpatikus – Hungarian:
You know the feeling you get when you meet a person for the first time and your intuition tells you she/he is a good person? You say this person is “szimpatikus”. You get a ‘good vibe’ from such a person.

Mate – Australian:
You probably know this one well. It provides a key to the Australian spirit. You spend a lot of time with your mates, doing things together, giving mutual support in good fortune and in bad fortune.

Anam ċara – Gaelic:
Your anam ċara is your “soul-friend,” your true friend, a lovingly stern companion to whom you can, in stringent honesty, unburden your heart.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day with your anam ċara! And may you get to spend time with your nakama!

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One Response to “5 untranslatable words about friendship”

  1. I feel very fortunate to have at least one anam cara. Even better, she’s from Ireland! 🙂 “Nakama” reminds me of the term “fremily” (friends + family) and I agree, they’re so important to have in your life. And the video about Dan and his coffee delivery is such a touching story.


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