How One Small Word Can Have One Big Meaning

Translation takes a written word from its original language and rewrites it in a different language while making sure it conveys the same meaning. Think it sounds simple? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s not. There are plenty of words that describe multiple feelings and situations all at once—and these don’t transfer over to another language that easily. Take, for example:


This Italian word is closely related to the idea of a “crazy cat lady” in Canada, but without the “crazy” part. A gattara is an elderly lady who cares for stray cats. She does not fill her home with them and barricade herself inside, though. A gattara spends her time “feeding and caring for cats that live in the streets,” says the Huffington Post.


In German, this word is a term that might closely resemble spring cleaning; except it happens more often than in the spring. Kehrwoche is an entire week that is set aside regularly for cleaning very specific areas of a shared residence. The Local explains it as meaning a “rotating time period during which a resident [of an apartment building] is responsible for cleaning shared areas…such as staircases, hallways, driveways, etc.”


Practically everyone can relate to the uncomfortable feeling that tartle describes. In Scottish, this means to forget the name of someone you are speaking to, even though you’ve been introduced to them before. Lifehack describes it as a “hesitation in recognizing a person or thing.” It’s good to know that such a common (and uncomfortable) feeling can be summed up in one easy word.


Dr. Tim Lomas studies how positive feelings and well-being are expressed in various languages, with the hopes that it may “help expand the emotional vocabulary of English speakers…and enrich their experiences of well-being.” Mepak does this by explaining “pleasure derived from simple joys.”

Can an App Really Do Them Justice?

Now, imagine how a translation app would approach words such as this! You’d likely get something that has very little to do with the original meaning. As much as people might like to borrow these words for the expressions that they convey, they simply cannot do so without using a full sentence to explain them. This is where the human touch really shines in translation. By using a professional translator, you’ll get the basic idea of the word through the feeling and tone that only a human translator possesses.

Translation in Many Ways

The many languages that we translate make us successful in meeting the needs of business clients in multiple industries all over the globe. With the continuing increase in Internet traffic, we’ve even been able to provide successful website localization services that can ensure your content is updated regularly by expert translators who understand not only the business, but the culture, including different symbols and references. So, the next time you need a quick way to explain mepak, we’ll be happy to help. Contact us today.

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