Appendix talk:Terms considered difficult or impossible to translate into English

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List of candidate terms[edit]


To make this page more manageable, nominations which have been accepted (added to the list) or rejected (excluded because the supposedly untranslatable terms are in fact translatable) are moved to the 'checked' archive.

Old discussions (for example, about the format of this page) are found in the discussion archive.


I consider this appendix's title to be appropriate, but it's not set in stone if anyone has a really good idea for improvement.   — C M B J   10:03, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I would say that these are words with no direct English translation. Some are not necessarily hard to translate, but there is no English analog, so the translations are wordy. bd2412 T 13:31, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't have strong feelings about the title, but just as a thought, BD2412's comment above said it quite well, so how about a title that paraphrases that: "Terms without close analogs in English"? That would be more concise, and it would avoid the word "translation," which has prompted some objections.--Haplology (talk) 15:11, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The term 'considered' bothers me; what if one author considers a word impossible to translate but others don't? The way I interpret the current title, is that as long as an acceptable source says that a word is impossible to translate into English, I doesn't matter if other sources, no matter how many, consider that there is a translation. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:50, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I propose Terms without idiomatic English equivalents (or translations instead of equivalents.) The term considered also bothers me. Considered by whom? Judging from the nominations below, by people who suck at thinking of translations! — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:26, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
  • It seems more like "terms without fully matching one- or two-word English translations". Terms like 素直 (sunao) are definitely translatable, but the shape of the conceptual box described by the term is very different from the shape of the conceptual boxes of the corresponding English terms, so overlap is incomplete, necessitating a more nuanced approach to translating than just taking the source text and replacing it with the one-to-one match for each word.
This is partly why I'm not too worried about machine translation destroying my career. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:25, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd really prefer not to define the concept as being limited to one- or two-word terms. If any term exists, regardless of word count, then it can be considered an equivalent. On the other hand, if two words can describe a concept but aren't citable as a term, then they generally shouldn't be considered equivalent.   — C M B J   06:27, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Obscure terms adopted as loanwords[edit]

Need to start notating these either for a supplemental chart or a separate appendix at some point in the future.   — C M B J   10:56, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Foods, poetic meters, etc typically left untranslated[edit]

  • Almost all the terms I can possibly find relating to Old Norse poetic technique are totally untranslatable, since their poetic forms have long since vanished. Of course, none of them are on Wiktionary either...
fornyrðislag WP
malaháttr WP
ljóðaháttr WP
dróttkvætt WP
And the modern rímur, rímnahættir WP
+many lesser terms kviða, galdraháttr, kviðuháttr, lausavísa, drápa, and the list goes on... Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:24, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Most of these are just translated as themselves, e.g. dróttkvætt. I don't think they're any more untranslatable than the names of specific [distinctive] food dishes (which also tend to be borrowed). - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)


This page makes use of valign, which is not compliant with HTML5. --EncycloPetey (talk) 04:31, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Really? That's good to know because a great deal of Wikipedia tables still rely on that tag, and the same is apparently true here as well, because I actually just copied the original table from another appendix that had cells with valign and retained the configuration as a convenience. On a side note, it's really interesting to see that tag be deprecated — it's still pretty new in my mind because this is what HTML looked like when I started working with it.   — C M B J   05:14, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

This "list" needs organizing.[edit]

I'd like to propose that this very haphazard list be drastically reorganized -- each language should be listed alphabetically, then each term alphabetically under the proper language header. The current non-structure is about ready to fall over of its own weight. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

It's fairly intense finding, aggregating, processing, and standardizing a list of heterogeneous content this size, so first things were first in my mind. I agree that there's good reason to start sorting at this point, though, so I'll get to working on it. Thanks for pointing it out.   — C M B J   05:54, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
You should considering removing the accepted and excluded nominations, to reduce size. — Ungoliant (Falai) 13:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, wouldn't that make contesting them more difficult?   — C M B J   12:20, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
No, since they are added to the appendix. — Ungoliant (Falai) 18:49, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
I think a better solution would be to collapse the content. That way, you don't have to choose between tripling the overhead or making things difficult for newcomers. Is there any better template than {{collapse-top}} and {{collapse-bottom}} here? Those seem pretty flakey in comparison with their en.wp equivalents.   — C M B J   05:49, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Try {{der-top}}. I just reworked the References section to use that. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 06:01, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
That works and looks pretty nice.   — C M B J   06:21, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
To make this page smaller and more manageable, I have begun moving processed nominations to an archive. - -sche (discuss) 20:57, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
I think the main list should be alphabetised in the manner Eirikr proposes, but I'm not sure what to do with multiple languages have a term for something English does not have a term for. - -sche (discuss) 21:38, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree. I guess we will have to repeat the definitions. — Ungoliant (falai) 21:43, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Guideline draft[edit]

Starting a scratchpad here.


Errors If you believe that a term has been added or omitted in error, please feel free to contest the determination at any time. Simply remove the term's {{der-top}} header and {{der-bottom}} footer on this page and continue the discussion by presenting your view.
Removals Please document all terms removed from the appendix on this page accordingly, both as a reference and as a courtesy to others.
Suggestions If you know of a WT:CFI-compliant term that lacks any English equivalent, you may simply be bold and add it to the appendix at any time. If you came across a cool term in an article or book, or if you just aren't too sure about a term, please consider bringing it here first as a precaution.
Type Example(s) Determination
Loanwords Deletion icon.svg déjà vu, schadenfreude Considered adequately translatable due to 3 or more appearances in durably archived English publications during the same year, excluding translation aids, and with the exact same connotations as the original language's equivalent term.
Approve icon.svg TBA TBA
Neologisms Approve icon.svg TBA TBA
Deletion icon.svg Kabelsalat, Neidbau Considered adequately translatable due to equivalent English neologisms, which, though uncommon outside certain subcultures, can be reasonably presumed to express the exact same sentiments.
Unknown Deletion icon.svg разблюто Considered out of scope due to a complete lack of demonstrated usage by speakers of the source language.

  — C M B J   04:27, 10 June 2013 (UTC)


The FWOTD archive and the translation section of words in this category should be full of words to include in this appendix. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:08, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

I'm going through the FWOTD archive now. :) The entries in Category:English non-idiomatic translation targets, on the other hand, all seem translatable (to the shirt phrases that are used as the entry titles). - -sche (discuss) 01:25, 20 March 2018 (UTC)