Questions tagged [translation]

Determining English equivalents for words or phrases in other languages (that is, translation into English). We don't actually do translations: we can try and help you with your own translation. Please see the detailed tag info for guidance on what to ask.

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10
votes
3answers
6k views

What would you call a word that doesn't exist in or translate well into another language?

I've run into this situation several times, being a native Spanish speaker. There are some words you just can't translate into another language. Is there a particular word to describe this? I'm not ...
41
votes
10answers
20k views

“To shoot out of cannon into sparrows”

In Russian we have idiom/saying "To shoot out of cannon into sparrows" (literal translation) which is used to convey an idea of applying too drastic measures to small problems. I believe there should ...
11
votes
12answers
6k views

Is there a single noun in English for 'jerry-rigged?'

Gambiarra in Brazilian Portuguese means a device, solution, or means to an end made impromptu, usually in a sloppy way and lacking care. I was wondering if there was a single word in English for ...
182
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15answers
39k views

Do most languages need more space than English?

I saw the following statement on User Experience: Supporting multiple languages can break the user interface, because most languages need more space than english This seems to be a gross ...
27
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9answers
3k views

“Saving on the parrot's chocolate is futile”

In Catalan there is an expression "ser la xocolata del lloro" that can be translated as "saving by not giving chocolate to the parrot is futile", conveying the meaning that when a household wants to ...
23
votes
10answers
92k views

English equivalent of komorebi (木漏れ日) — “sunshine filtering through leaves”

Is there an English equivalent of komorebi (木漏れ日), which means the sunshine filtering through the leaves of a tree (or trees)? It is made up of three kanji and the hiragana particle れ. The first ...
57
votes
11answers
10k views

You “show” someone a picture. You “---” someone a song?

In Maltese, we have a verb meaning "to show" corresponding to "to see/to look", and we have a different verb corresponding to "to hear/to listen": inti tara stampa (you look at a picture.) ---- ...
9
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6answers
14k views

Is there an English term for “L'esprit de l'escalier”?

L'esprit de l'escalier or l'esprit d'escalier (literally, staircase wit) is a French term that describes the predicament of thinking of the perfect comeback too late. Merriam-Webster dictionary ...
15
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24answers
3k views

Favourite untranslatables [closed]

What are your favourite words and idioms in other languages that don't have good, succinct equivalents in English? (The issue of whether there is, or could be, a sentence on one language whose ...
19
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4answers
6k views

Word for “distance in time”

I need the correct English word for the German expression (zeitlicher) Abstand. Abstand means "distance", and zeitlich means "in time". The "distance" between building maintenance dates is about ...
15
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7answers
3k views

What is the English synonym for the German word “Sparmeister”?

Well, the title pretty much says it all. A Sparmeister (noun), briefly speaking, is a person who is concerned about his finances and tries to avoid spending money whenever possible. a ...
5
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0answers
504 views

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Is become” vs “has become” This is a famous quote from J. Robert Oppenheimer after the successful detonation of the first nuclear weapon. The quote ...
47
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25answers
9k views

Is there a similar English phrase for this Tamil proverb - “Lavish outside home yet starving inside of it”?

In Tamil, a south Indian language, there is a saying which roughly translates into English as: Lavish outside home, starving inside of it. Background : This proverb has a mocking tone and ...
81
votes
10answers
24k views

Captain America said “if you get killed, walk it off!” How to understand “walk it off”?

The Avengers 2 just hit China yesterday. The official translation of the line "If you get killed, walk it off!" is "Someone is trying to kill you, run, run for your life" (This is the English version ...
10
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5answers
30k views

Difference between “purpose” and “goal”

What does this sentence from Star Trek: The Alternative Factor mean? Jim, madness has no purpose ... or reason ... but it may have a goal. As far as I know purpose and goal are synonyms. How ...
13
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19answers
14k views

Single word for a very small amount of time [closed]

In French, if I want to quantify a very small amount of time (but not fixed: it can be 5 ms or 0.1 ms) I can use a pouième. Is there an equivalent in English? I'm not looking for an expression but ...
7
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3answers
6k views

Is there a word in English for the Portuguese term “saudades”?

The word "saudades" was the the centerpiece of the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics. It describes a feeling of melancholy or nostalgia not easily translated to English. Its definition in ...
3
votes
6answers
11k views

Pessimism idiom - opposite of rose-tinted glasses?

In Hebrew, we say "pink glasses" to mean optimistic observation, and "black glasses" for pessimism. I was trying to figure out how popular the literal translations are in English. I found "rose-tinted ...
7
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4answers
2k views

French (and, hey, others too) equivalent of “anglicize”

Is there a preferred word that means "to change (a word) to sound (or otherwise appear) as if it came from French"? I've found both "Frenchize" and "Francize" with a web search. If the latter is ...
3
votes
2answers
394 views

What are the technical symbols used in the margin of a page called?

I research Latin texts which discuss a peculiar medieval practice: the addition of minute graphic symbols into the margins of the page, for example in order to indicate passages of interest, flaws in ...
97
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13answers
12k views

Is there English counterpart(s) to Japanese old saying, “Present salt to your enemy.”?

We have a popular Japanese saying, “敵に塩を送る” — literally, “present (supply) salt to one's enemy”, meaning ‘play fair and square, not taking advantage of the weak point of your rival.’ It’s different ...
21
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8answers
3k views

Are there sentences in languages which use grammatical gender that lose meaning when translated into English?

English nouns which don't denote people or animals with natural gender do not (apart from a few rare examples) use grammatical gender. So for example, "table" is always an "it" in English, whereas it ...
18
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6answers
3k views

Why are the same words translated differently into English depending on their meaning?

I've seen it several times before, but only have one example at hand right now. This Forbes article mentions Russia as country's name, but Rossiya as the bank's name, despite that these words are ...
16
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21answers
30k views

Idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad

Is there any idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad, or an expression for a person who does such a thing? For example, I know that if I ask someone a ...
40
votes
15answers
22k views

A word for a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh

There is a word for this in Indonesian language: jayus. (Maybe, it is used in Filipino and Malaysian language also.) It is a joke that is so bad, it's funny. It is often mentioned as untranslatable....
34
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28answers
18k views

Derogatory term for a corporate employee

I’m looking for a derogatory term for a person who works in a big, international business. In Polish we have a few informal words for that, like korpoludek (“corpo little guy”) and korpoczłowiek (“...
30
votes
12answers
4k views

English equivalent of the Portuguese phrase: “this person's mood changes according to the moon”

In Portuguese there is an expression that says: "Essa pessoa é de lua." Literally "this person's mood changes according to the moon", which means that nobody can predict that person's mood. Is ...
22
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8answers
5k views

How can I translate the words for the two types of bathrooms found in Russia into English?

I work in real estate, and sometimes I have to translate respective inscriptions from my native Russian into English. I get stuck in some cases where not only linguistic, but cultural differences have ...
15
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6answers
5k views

What do you call the habit of looking into smartphone while walking?

The habit of looking into and texting on a smartphone is becoming a prevailing social phenomena in Japan these days. We call this habit “歩きスマホ – aruki sumaho – using a smart-phone while walking” in ...
20
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2answers
2k views

When did we stop translating proper names?

It used to be that one would just translate a proper name that was in another language into English when referring to that entity. For example, William the Conqueror, Christopher Columbus, King ...
14
votes
6answers
24k views

Single word for “more than once”

Is there a single word to describe the occurrence of a pattern more than once? This word exists in a file more than once. According to an online Czech–* dictionary, these would be the equivalents ...
13
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9answers
2k views

Word similar to “distraction” but with jokey connotation

I was wondering if there is a word that carries the same meaning as "distraction" but can be used for a comedy effect too. As an example, imagine a situation where my parents are away and I've been ...
13
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6answers
6k views

Is the “female” in “female cousin” redundant here?

"My female cousin working for a finance company was dismissed. Disappeared along with her job were her confidence and smiling face." There is a very complicated system in Chinese for naming different ...
11
votes
10answers
3k views

Is there an idiom like the Russian's “Untilled field”?

"Непаханое поле" - a [big] amount of undone work. Updated example: a kid is leisurely watching TV while there a lot of undone homework (which he hasn't even started). Note: the example below is ...
9
votes
3answers
8k views

Word or expression for guys who slept with the same woman(prostitute)?

Embarrassingly, in Korean, there is a slang word for this kind of relationship between guys. Might be translated as, "the husband of my wife's sister but only by the hole" ? I don't know how can I ...
17
votes
6answers
9k views

Friendlier way to express you paid for a person's drink/dinner and expect it to be paid back

In Dutch we have the word voorschieten. In English it translates — according to Google Translate — to "advance, lend, disburse". The Dutch word voorschieten is used in an informal setting between ...
16
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4answers
9k views

Is “plastic glass” as a container a valid expression?

In another question here (sanity of a plastic glass!) the term "plastic glass" is being used which sounds somewhat odd to me, but has not been brought into question by any respondents. Maybe it is ...
11
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6answers
2k views

Is there an enhancing, slangish word to put after statements, like the Norwegian slang word “ass”?

I’m making subtitles for a Norwegian TV show, and there is a very common slang word in Norwegian called ass. (Yeah, never mind the English meaning of that, it’s not pronounced the same.) The etymology ...
10
votes
8answers
1k views

English term for pre-thinker?

I was searching for an English translation for the German Vordenker. Basically a person, often a scientist, who began or further significantly developed a new concept or theory by contributing epoch-...
8
votes
11answers
24k views

Idiom/expression for changing the subject in a conversation

Is there an idiom/expression in English for changing the subject in a conversation (and if possible, in a sarcastic way)? For example, there is an expression in Turkish: gelelim fasulyenin ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

I'm translating English to Hindi, what's it called when the translations are with English characters?

I'm translating English to Hindi, what's it called when the translations are with English characters? For example, "love" comes up as "Pyāra" and "प्यार". I need the "Pyāra" word in my dictionary.
5
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5answers
5k views

Is there an English word for “fargin”?

I have heard many people claim that Yiddish is a much richer language than English, and follow up with an attempt to prove their point by pulling out a Yiddish word they claim has no English analogue. ...
4
votes
4answers
65k views

What is the difference between translation and transliteration [closed]

It's always intrigued me what the difference is between these two terms. I can guess that translation is a contextual translation whereby the original foreign text is maintained with any language ...
1
vote
2answers
560 views

Can one abbreviate the Spanish given name José María to José Mª in English, like in Spanish?

According to the English Wikipedia, José María (abbreviated José Mª) is a Spanish language male given name, usually considered a single given name rather than two names[.] [Related, possibly ...
6
votes
3answers
346 views

“If the cedars caught fire, what will the hyssops of the wall say?”

The other day, my mother used a Hebrew expression I hadn't heard before: אִם בְּאֲרָזִים נָפְלָה שַׁלְהֶבֶת מָה יַגִּידוּ אֲזוֹבֵי הַקִּיר It apparently comes from the Talmud, and its literal ...
5
votes
3answers
825 views

English translation for the different parts of a course as found in French schools/universities

What would be the transposition to the US school/university system of the French expressions: “cours” (that is lecture, listening to the teacher) “travaux dirigés” (lit. directed works, students ...
4
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14answers
11k views

The meaning of “blue canoe” in the lyrics of “Where to Now, St. Peter” sung by Elton John

In his song Where to Now, St. Peter, Sir Elton John sings: I took myself a blue canoe, And I floated like a leaf Dazzling, dancing half enchanted In my Merlin sleep. Crazy was the ...
4
votes
4answers
582 views

What can I call the two possible directions on a line (as a category)?

In English, a vector is said to have two properties: a length and a direction. The possible directions correspond to half-lines out of the origin (so that, eg, up and down are different directions). ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Translation of Soccer term: disarm

I'm looking for the translation of the soccer term that in Portuguese we use as "disarm". It is the action of taking the ball from the opponent player or when the player with the ball attempts to ...
3
votes
8answers
15k views

What do you call it when you refuse to give up on a particular task

In Dutch we've got the expression 'Vastbijten in'. It means you really get into a problem or some work. And you won't give up till it's resolved. I've been looking all over the web, but I've not been ...