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Language of love which can’t be translated

Whether you love it or hate it, it’s that time of year when couples celebrate their love for each other, admirers send anonymous cards and gifts, and single people try to pretend it’s not happening! Yes, it’s Valentine’s day!

To celebrate Valentine’s day, without getting too caught up in the “slushy” side of it, we thought we’d look at some love related words and phrases which can be heard in a few countries around Europe, but can be difficult to translate.

Let’s start with a word which can be heard all around Lingua Translations’ homeland, Cwtch. In Wales, we use the word Cwtch to describe a sort of hug…although it’s much more than that. If someone asks you for a Cwtch, they don’t just want a hug, they want a cuddle! I suppose the closest English translation is “snuggle”, although it still doesn’t imply the affection that a Cwtch does.

Now we move across the English Channel to France, home to one of the most romantic cities in the world. The French use the word Retrouvailles, which literally translates into English as “rediscovery”, to describe the feeling of happiness when you’re reunited with someone who you have been separated from for a long time. Another romantic phrase you may hear in France is La Douleur Exquise, which describes intense pain of wanting to be with someone who you can’t be with. The closest English translation would be “heartache”, but this doesn’t nearly describe the intensity of La Douleur Exquise….maybe our English reserve keeps us from having such a passionate word in our vocabulary!

Moving further south to Spain, you may hear the word Flechazo, which translates into English as “love at first sight”. In English, this phrase is mainly used to describe how two people met, whereas in Spanish, you can use Flechazo in everyday situations when you see someone you are attracted to – “¡Qué flechazo!”

Then we go to Italy, home to a very strange phrase which describes an attempt at getting back together with an old partner, Cavoli riscaldati. This phrase translates into English as “reheated cabbage”! The “reheated” part of the phrase makes perfect sense, but where the “cabbage” comes in, I have no idea!

I’m sure there are plenty more love related words and phrases in different countries around the world. We’d love to hear about them, get in touch using the comments box below.

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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