I wish English had a word for this!

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I wish English had a word for this!

Post by mbm »

This thread is mainly for those who are not native speakers of English. Which words and expressions from your own first language do you miss most in English?

My most sadly missed word from Czech is "kolikátý", an interrogative pronoun. You use it to enquire about an object's position in a sequence, and the answer is an ordinal number. If English had an expression for this, it would probably be "how manyeth" or somesuch. How manyeth were you in the line? I was the third.

Incidentally, German also has a single word for this: "wievielte". Here's a short conversation discussing its absence in English. It's such a useful word, how can you live without it? I often find myself having to invent elaborate wordings when in Czech a single word would do the job.

Any other sadly missed relatives, anyone?
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Re: I wish English had a word for this!

Post by Åge Kruger »

mbm wrote:My most sadly missed word from Czech is "kolikátý", an interrogative pronoun. You use it to enquire about an object's position in a sequence, and the answer is an ordinal number. If English had an expression for this, it would probably be "how manyeth" or somesuch. How manyeth were you in the line? I was the third.


Sounds like "where" to me.
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Post by Klaivas »

Yeah, "where" would work fine. You can also use the neologism "whatth" IMD...

- I'm going away on the 4th of December
- The whatth of December?
- The 4th of December

Though "when in December" would work fine there.

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Post by mbm »

Hm... I'm sure where and whatth work sometimes, but other times you just can't avoid a longwinded re-wording:

Der wievielte Besitzer des Autos bist du?
(= how many owners did this car have before you?)

Der wievielte Präsident der USA war Reagan?
(= of the presidents of the USA, what number was Reagan?)
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Post by Nuntar »

"What number president was Reagan?" works fine.
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Re: I wish English had a word for this!

Post by Euskaldun »

mbm wrote:This thread is mainly for those who are not native speakers of English. Which words and expressions from your own first language do you miss most in English?

My most sadly missed word from Czech is "kolikátý", an interrogative pronoun. You use it to enquire about an object's position in a sequence, and the answer is an ordinal number. If English had an expression for this, it would probably be "how manyeth" or somesuch. How manyeth were you in the line? I was the third.

Incidentally, German also has a single word for this: "wievielte". Here's a short conversation discussing its absence in English. It's such a useful word, how can you live without it? I often find myself having to invent elaborate wordings when in Czech a single word would do the job.

Any other sadly missed relatives, anyone?



Colloquial french has it also: le combientième.

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Post by Ghenris »

English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you". There should also be a maculine/feminine/neutral plural third person.

Something I consider unnecessary in english is the "Present Perfect". I mean, wha' is that about? The other languages don't use it and I think it is too confuse.

And there is the portuguese word "saudade". Only we, from portugal, use it. I don't know to explain what it means in english, but wikipedia does:

Saudade (pron. IPA [sɐu'ðað(ɨ)] in European Portuguese and Galician, and [sau'dadʒi] or [sau'daði] in Brazilian Portuguese) is a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.

And:

Saudade is generally considered one of the hardest words to translate. It originated from the Latin word solitatem (loneliness, solitude), but developed a different meaning. Loneliness in Portuguese is solidão (a semi-learned word), from Latin solitudo. Few other languages in the world have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

In his book In Portugal of 1912, A.F.G Bell writes: "The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."

Saudade is different from nostalgia (the English word, that is). In nostalgia, one has a mixed happy and sad feeling, a memory of happiness but a sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if that return is unlikely or so distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present. One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia as a feeling one has for a loved one who has died and saudade as a feeling one has for a loved one who has disappeared or is simply currently absent. Nostalgia is located in the past and is somewhat conformist while saudade is very present, anguishing, anxious and extends into the future. In Portuguese, the same word nostalgia has quite a different meaning.

For instance, the phrase "Sinto saudade de você" ("I feel 'saudade' for you") directly translates into "I miss you". "Eu sinto a tua falta" also has the same meaning in English ("falta" and "saudade" both are translated for missing), but it is different in Portuguese. The first sentence is never told to anyone personally, but the second can be. The first sentence would be said by a person whose lover has been abroad for sometime, it would be said over the phone or written in a letter. The second sentence would be said by someone who has divorced, or whose partner is not usually at home, and would be said personally.

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Post by linguoboy »

Ghenris wrote:English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you".

In many dialects, there is. If you were learning American English, you could pick up "y'all".

Something I consider unnecessary in english is the "Present Perfect". I mean, wha' is that about? The other languages don't use it and I think it is too confuse.

We've done our best to explain it. If it's any consolation, it can't possibly be harder for you to master than it is for Americans to learn the use of the subjunctive in Romance languages.

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Post by Ghenris »

linguoboy wrote:We've done our best to explain it.

I know you did it :wink: Now I know moreless when I must use Past or P.P., thanks to you (y'all XD); but I still think it is difficult.[/quote]

If it's any consolation, it can't possibly be harder for you to master than it is for Americans to learn the use of the subjunctive in Romance languages.


I would never suppose so... The subjunctive is quite easy to understand. It is another thing I miss in english. It is used to speak about doubtful, imaginary, hypothetical, demanded, or required situations. It is used after "que; se" ("that; if").

But I am a native speaker of portuguese; it is natural for me. It is the same story of the Present Perfect, but the other way around.

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Post by BGMan »

linguoboy wrote:
Ghenris wrote:English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you".

In many dialects, there is. If you were learning American English, you could pick up "y'all".

I use it whenever I can get away with it. It is still considered informal, like ihr/euch in German; on the other hand, it seems to be spreading around the country and is no longer confined to Southerners and Black Americans. In northern states, it still isn't as common as "you guys", however.

The problem is figuring out a possessive form for "y'all". Having to fall back on "your" appears to be the only solution at this point, since "y'alls" sounds like something you'd say only if you really *were* from the Deep South. (Exasperatingly, I hear "you guyses" all the time: "Hey, is this you guyses CD player?")

I just wish we hadn't gotten rid of "thou". :(
Ghenris wrote:Something I consider unnecessary in english is the "Present Perfect". I mean, wha' is that about? The other languages don't use it and I think it is too confuse.

The present perfect? Continental European languages (German, French, Italian) have gone and tossed their real past tenses and now use present perfect instead. Rather annoying, if you ask me, since I like the past tenses better. :evil:

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Post by Avaja »

A great Swedish verb is orka which is roughly "to have the energy/will to do something". The imperative of it is often used by youngsters when they don't orka.

- Write this down.
- Orka! (I don't have the energy/will to do it)
_@'O' \|/

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Post by Wycoval »

Ghenris wrote:Saudade (pron. IPA [sɐu'ðað(ɨ)] in European Portuguese and Galician, and [sau'dadʒi] or [sau'daði] in Brazilian Portuguese) is a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.


'Longing' is as close as may be.
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Post by Jipí »

BGMan wrote:It is still considered informal, like ihr/euch in German;


Explain please. What is informal about "ihr" and "euch"?

The present perfect? Continental European languages (German, French, Italian) have gone and tossed their real past tenses and now use present perfect instead. Rather annoying, if you ask me, since I like the past tenses better. :evil:


German and French use their respective perfect tenses to express something that happened in the past. But German did not completely stop using the past tense. Actually, we mix both, which makes a text more vivid. Nevertheless, using only the past tense is considered more stilted than mixing tenses.

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Post by linguoboy »

guitarplayer wrote:
BGMan wrote:It is still considered informal, like ihr/euch in German;

Explain please. What is informal about "ihr" and "euch"?

I think he means as opposed to the formal singular/plural "you", Sie.

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Post by Whimemsz »

BGMan wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Ghenris wrote:English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you".

In many dialects, there is. If you were learning American English, you could pick up "y'all".

I use it whenever I can get away with it. It is still considered informal, like ihr/euch in German; on the other hand, it seems to be spreading around the country and is no longer confined to Southerners and Black Americans. In northern states, it still isn't as common as "you guys", however.

The problem is figuring out a possessive form for "y'all". Having to fall back on "your" appears to be the only solution at this point, since "y'alls" sounds like something you'd say only if you really *were* from the Deep South. (Exasperatingly, I hear "you guyses" all the time: "Hey, is this you guyses CD player?")


What? But...but...

Nearly everyone in Texas who uses y'all has y'all's as the plural. I guess you're including that in "Deep South", but I mean, that's where y'all is most often found.

I don't know how often people around me say you guys'--I agree it sounds kind of cumbersome. Personally, I usually say your guys (or sometimes your guys').

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Post by Mecislau »

Whimemsz wrote:I don't know how often people around me say you guys'--I agree it sounds kind of cumbersome. Personally, I usually say your guys (or sometimes your guys').


Hey, I use you guys'!

If you ask me, your guys sounds just flat out wrong. It's unacceptable.

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Post by tiramisu »

To me, suspirar in Spanish doesn't have a particular English counterpart. The closest word that comes to it is 'sigh', but that word has a different connotation from suspirar. My Spanish teacher (native speaker) and I both agree that suspirar must have began meaning 'to sigh', but that today its meaning is usually 'to sigh [erotically,lovingly,whatever you wanna call it, etc.] when a girl sees a hot guy'. 'Sigh' can carry that meaning as well, but the reason they have different connotations is that when someone hears 'sigh', he's more likely to think of a general exhaling breath (and will probably only think of the above description in context), but when he hears 'suspirar' he's more likely to think of the exhaling breath described above. [/b]

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Post by candrodor »

I miss jaleo from Spanish.

jaleo m (fam)
a (alboroto, ruido) racket (colloq), row (colloq), ruckus (AmE colloq)
b (confusión) muddle, mess; (desorden) mess; (problemas) hassle (colloq);
c (actividad intensa): hemos tenido mucho jaleo en casa everything’s been very hectic at home; con todo el jaleo de la mudanza
with all the upheaval of the move
d (riña) brawl; aquí no quiero jaleos I don’t want any brawling here


I know we have options in English, but it's such a broad cover-all word for so many useful things. I wouldn't know how to explain the word really.

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Post by Xephyr »

linguoboy wrote:
Ghenris wrote:English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you".

In many dialects, there is. If you were learning American English, you could pick up "y'all".


Just a note: I'm far from representative, but I don't think I've ever actually heard anybody say "y'all" in my experience of American English.
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Post by Siride »

Xephyr wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Ghenris wrote:English is very poor in pronouns.
"I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they"... There should be a plural "you".

In many dialects, there is. If you were learning American English, you could pick up "y'all".


Just a note: I'm far from representative, but I don't think I've ever actually heard anybody say "y'all" in my experience of American English.

I, unfortunately, hear it all too often...

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Post by Eledhi »

I say y'all every now and then. And I am extremely self-conscious about sounding Southern. I think I've almost erased all symptoms of a Southern accent, but I still say y'all. Why not let English have a 2nd person plural pronoun? It feels wrong to say "you" when you mean a group of people. Is y'all strictly Southern American or does it exist in other dialects? I think it would be interesting if a new pronoun evolved in English.

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Post by BGMan »

Maknas wrote:
Whimemsz wrote:I don't know how often people around me say you guys'--I agree it sounds kind of cumbersome. Personally, I usually say your guys (or sometimes your guys').


Hey, I use you guys'!

If you ask me, your guys sounds just flat out wrong. It's unacceptable.

I don't think I have heard anybody say "your guys" as a possessive, except for somebody talking to a girl about something that belonged to her boyfriend.

candrodor wrote:I miss jaleo from Spanish.

jaleo m (fam)
a (alboroto, ruido) racket (colloq), row (colloq), ruckus (AmE colloq)
b (confusión) muddle, mess; (desorden) mess; (problemas) hassle (colloq);
c (actividad intensa): hemos tenido mucho jaleo en casa everything’s been very hectic at home; con todo el jaleo de la mudanza
with all the upheaval of the move
d (riña) brawl; aquí no quiero jaleos I don’t want any brawling here


I know we have options in English, but it's such a broad cover-all word for so many useful things. I wouldn't know how to explain the word really.

How about "mess" or "hell"?

Eledhi wrote:I say y'all every now and then. And I am extremely self-conscious about sounding Southern. I think I've almost erased all symptoms of a Southern accent, but I still say y'all. Why not let English have a 2nd person plural pronoun? It feels wrong to say "you" when you mean a group of people. Is y'all strictly Southern American or does it exist in other dialects? I think it would be interesting if a new pronoun evolved in English.

Read the entire thread. ;)

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Post by nebula wind phone »

candrodor wrote:I miss jaleo from Spanish.
jaleo m (fam)
a (alboroto, ruido) racket (colloq), row (colloq), ruckus (AmE colloq)
b (confusión) muddle, mess; (desorden) mess; (problemas) hassle (colloq);
c (actividad intensa): hemos tenido mucho jaleo en casa everything’s been very hectic at home; con todo el jaleo de la mudanza
with all the upheaval of the move
d (riña) brawl; aquí no quiero jaleos I don’t want any brawling here

I know we have options in English, but it's such a broad cover-all word for so many useful things. I wouldn't know how to explain the word really.

"Clusterfuck." It can refer to a flurry of intense pointless activity, a string of misunderstandings, a situation gone horribly wrong, a hassle or a mess.

(It couldn't refer to a fistfight or a loud-but-well-organized process, though, and from your definition it sounds like "jaleo" might be able to. Anyway, I'm sure it's not an exact match, but it might come close.)
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Post by Tengado »

I like the word "clusterfuck". But in my experience it means something more like a sitution that has just gone seriously wrong, perhaps in multiple ways, but usually quite rapidly.

I have a question that goes the otehr way. In Yorkshire, we have a verb "to thoil" [no clue onspelling, I've never seen it written]. "It beens to be able to stomach [spending the money on something]".

eg He wanted 10 pounds for it, but I couldn't thoil the money.

It doesn't imply that the object is expensive on an absolute scale, but more that it is not worth the money, or perhaps you don't need it eough to warrant buying it, so you can't justify or stomach the purchase.

Dootehr languages/dialects of english have such a word?
- "But this can be stopped."
- "No, I came all this way to show you this because nothing can be done. Because I like the way your pupils dilate in the presence of total planetary Armageddon.
Yes, it can be stopped."

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Post by droptail »

Well, it's just been added to mine... 8) Usually I'd just say "It's not worth my money" or something similar.

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