found that cookbook again...

slightly off this topic, tho, is -- I've got a book coming out any second called SECRET KITTY (ahadada) and half of it is written through various search engines (flarf) and half of it is machine translated to Japanese and back -- online machine translation (a la babelfish, there are others) -- there are plenty of English words that persist

it was easy to supply synonyms for those

but there were even more Japanese words which didn't come through in the other direction -- what I did (which was a bit silly, but fit the project) is put the mystery characters through google Japanese and picked from what came up, translated that --

All best,
Catherine Daly

-----Original Message-----
Dan Waber

I would like collect examples of words that are untranslatable and provide a web-based publishing outlet for them to be found.

I am most interested in single words (lacuna) which require phrases, paragraphs, or pages of explanation to try and give a reasonable approximation of their full meaning, but am open to considering anything at all (really, try me) that fits (or answers to, or responds
to) the notion of untranslatability.

When submitting, please include:

1) the native language the word (or phrase) appears in

2) the target language(s) into which it is known to be untranslatable

3) as much explanation as you feel is necessary to communicate the
full meaning of the word, possibly using a standard dictionary
attempt which fails miserably as a starting point (or not, as you
see fit)

or, for submissions that don't fit this idealized set of guidelines, a brief note explaining your submission's connection to the concept of untranslatability.

Submissions can be as casual or scholarly as your experience dictates, the format I'm planning will allow multiple approaches to the same translation challenge.

Please address submissions to your favorite word, whatever that may be, at

When I have a few solid examples to launch with, I'll announce that it's ready for viewing. When that times comes, the URL will be (but is not yet)

Please circulate this call as widely as possible, to anyone in any country or field of endeavor who might have examples to share. This is an open an ongoing call. I will attempt to accommodate all native and target languages to the best of my abilities.


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