Is there an emotion your language doesn't have a word for?

There are emotions that some languages have words to describe, but that other languages don’t.

For example, in English we don’t have a word for a person being happy when something bad happens to another person. For this emotion, we therefore use the German word Schadenfreude.

German has a word Futterneid, which is what one feels when he likes someone else’s food better than his own. English doesn’t have any word for this feeling, and I don’t think people even feel it very often.

Is there an emotion in your language that English has no word for, or an emotion that English has a word for but your language doesn’t?

Hi, Jamie

I just translated Schadenfreude into my language and found out that it consists of 2 words linked together creating one whole word. You have these 2 words: malicious joy. Just get them together and invent a new word - maliciousjoy. :slight_smile: (which I predict will happen soon if people dispositions get any worse :slight_smile:
I know that German has lots of words which were produced this way.

As for your last question, I myself encountered several words in English related to emotions which I couldnt find any analogs in my language for, but I just cant remember them.

Many foreign dictionaries give “malicious joy” as an equivalent for “Schadenfreude”, but you never hear Americans using the expression “malicious joy”.

Hi, Jamie
Ops… I see.

This word just came to my mind: malevolence
Do you think it fits your description (of the word Schadenfreude)

No, malevolence is simply a feeling of wanting to harm someone. There doesn’t have to be any joy involved.

There are quite a few concepts in German that don’t exist in English and some of them express certain emotions too. For example, there is the German word “Feierabend” which doesn’t have an English equivalent. Many Germans attach positive emotions to “Feierabend” because it means that they can forget about their job and start living their private lives. If you tell a German that there is no word for “Feierabend”, they would stare at you in disbelief thinking that this is impossible. They wonder how English speakers can live without all the great emotions attached to Feierabend…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: An exotic performer[YSaerTTEW443543]


A few other examples:

“Gem?tlichkeit” - German type of cosiness, typically felt when people drink loads in a pub or sit snugly on the couch with a beer whilst watching football

“Festtag” - a festive day, can be anything from first communion or other religious feast days up to Germany beating England in football

“Helles” - a top fermented beer typical of southern German regions


“Festtagsgem?tlichkeitshelles” - I just made it up, but I’m pretty sure any native speaker of German would exactly know what I mean.

I’ve thought about this word Feierabend quite a bit before, and we really don’t have an equivalent word in American English. “Quitting time” has the some of the same emotion attached to it, but it doesn’t include the idea of celebration.

Do you think this vocabulary difference has something to do with the way Germans tend to compartmentalize their time more than most English speakers?

Hi Jamie,

Yes I think that the “Feierabend” concept has a lot to do with the fact, that many Germans (especially in the former socialist part) draw a distinctive line between their “private” and “professional” lives. They see their jobs as a necessary evil rather than a means of self-expression and personal growth. Once their working day is done they don’t want to be bothered with any work related issues. Despite the high unemployment rate in Eastern Germany, you still will hear phrases involving the word “Feierabend” quite often. The idea of turning your hobby into your job and becoming self-employed is still relatively foreign to many East Germans and so they put great emphasis on their right to have “Feierabend”.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A Turandot scene[YSaerTTEW443543]

They sound like unionized factory workers in Detroit. In the 1920s and 1930s, those unions were communist influenced, and you can see a definite attitude of socialist entitlement in many of their members even today.

Is German difficult to learn?

It depends on what you mean by difficult. The grammar is as hard as that of English. However, a German teacher I worked with told me once that she was stunned at how well her students from China were able to pronounce German. They butchered English to the point where they could barely be understood, but their German was crystal clear.

I hold that the difficulty of learing languages is not mainly defined by their grammar, but by variety of vocabrurary items which are immence in number for any language worth learning. (by vocabrurary items I understand not only single words, but phrasal verbs, common collocations, idioms and so on…) Even the decision on what tense to use depends on the meaning you want that verb to express. For example, to think you can use in the continuous tense and in the simple with quite different meanings.

For a Chinese German is probably more difficult to learn than Japanese while for a German English is much easier to learn than Chinese. For a Russian, English might be as difficult to learn as German. However, it’s probably much easier to learn some basic phrases in English than it is in German because German uses a clumsy and inflexible grammar system.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: The market[YSaerTTEW443543]

I think there are a lot of Japanese words that have no one-word direct translation in English or my own mother-tongue. But right now I can think of only two.

  1. We say “Shitsureishimasu” everytime entering a room or a friend’s house.

Basically it means “I am interrupting”. Now, how do we say that in English? We don’t, right? The word is cultural.

  1. “Gambatte” which means “Strive and do your best!” or “Gambarou” which means “Let’s strive and do our best!”.

We always say this before acting on a plan or work. When I was at the university, we wished it to each other before sitting for an exam. Now, the usual phrase the English spoken people would say is “Good luck!”, right? Which to me, does not carry the same meaning as Gambatte does.

Hi, NinaZara

I couldn help but laugh :slight_smile:


I would not like it if someone said that to me upon entering my house :slight_smile:

Shitsureishimasu …well Mr. Alex I need to say your eyes are …

Hi Alex,

You just love this stuff, don’t you? And you’re a programmer, aren’t you? In a situation like this, we say “Sasuga!” Which means “That’s just what one would expect of a programmer!”

Another word that has no direct translation and can only be understood with a sentence.

By the way, the word really is pronounced Shi-tsu-rei-shi-ma-su!

Like Dai-ha-tsu not Dai-hat-su or Ma-tsu-da not Maz-da. (Japanese cars)

I can never look at the word the same way again. And thank you, I had a good laugh. You’re funny.

Alex, you’ll love this. A student was asked to divide the word psychotherapist into its constituent morphemes.

She divided it this way: psycho | the | rapist

Good point Nina. I’m now living in Japan i have come across many words that we don’t really have in English.

Some others like “Otsukare” - They use this after a job is finished to express gratitute in working together and completing the task at hand. Also, “Tadaima” and “Okairi” which is used when arriving back home. In English it would be “I’m home” and “Welcome home”… but in Japanese it just sounds so much more natural.

I find it interesting! :slight_smile: