NABOKV-L post 0021080, Mon, 20 Dec 2010 13:32:56 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] [SIGHTING]: 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words
Sighting: 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words & Nabokov heads the list with the word "Toska"(received from Jorio Dauster to forward to the List)

"There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English - or any language - could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive."
Here are a few examples of instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.

1. Toska
Russian - Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: "No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom."

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