Every language boasts words that are one of a kind. While certain ones are easier to pronounce, others might make a foreigner sound like Pink Panther trying to buy a dam-burrr-gheur. Some, though, are charming because they are oddly specific. For instance, the Japanese word for a lonely mouth (kuchisabishii) or the Finnish one describing a person drinking in his underwear in just several syllables (kalsarikännit).
Here at Bored Panda, we have gathered some of these fascinating linguistic gems for you to read. Shared by the r/AskReddit community members, they might be something you want to add to your vocabulary.
If you enjoy learning about unique terminology, don’t miss the chance to browse the list of times people were confused by the English language for some more entertaining content about languages.
Japanese for sunlight that shines through trees. I like the sound of the word but also the fact that a word for such a concept exists in the first place.
Image credits: Bratfahrer
According to Ethnologue, there are currently over seven thousand languages, however, more than half of the world’s population only use 23 of them. Sadly, as much as 40% of the languages are spoken by less than a thousand people, which puts them on the endangered list.
Data from 2022 shows that out of the 23 languages, the most popular one is English, followed by Mandarin Chinese. The third on the list is Hindi, then Spanish, and French taking fifth place by a thread, as Standard Arabic is left a close sixth.
#2Saudade - Portuguese for 'a nostalgic longing for something that no longer exists and knowing that it may never return'. What a lovely word.
Image credits: Wise-Guarantee-6665
#3Verschlimmbesserung - German noun for an attempted improvement that only makes things worse
Image credits: JR_0507
In some countries, citizens speak more than one language. This is true for some countries in Europe, such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, or Belgium, and beyond—South Africa and India, for instance. But one of them stands out from the rest. The country with the most languages is Papua New Guinea with an astonishing number of nearly 850.
Home to such a variety of speech, the country has a population of fewer than 9.5 million people. A large part of it comprises indigenous groups, some of which have less than a thousand people speaking their mother tongue. Unfortunately, that puts these exceptional languages in danger of disappearing.
#4kalsarikännit - originating in Finland, in which the drinker consumes alcoholic drinks at home, dressed in as little clothing as possible, mainly in underwear with no intention of going out.
Image credits: evendronesflyaway
#5It is a phrase not a word, but in Italian, to say "I love you", you usually say "ti voglio bene", which literally means "I want well for you". In english "love" means so many different things and I feel like this idea "I want well for you" encapsulates what love really means.
Image credits: mr_taco_man
Papua New Guinea alone has 35 times more languages than there are official ones in the European Union. However, Europe has more than the 24 official ones that can be seen on the EU documents.
The continent is home to roughly 200 languages, ranging from well-known English, Spanish, and French, to the less widely-represented ones, such as Basque, Gaelic, or Flemish. Based on the number of native speakers, the most popular one in Europe is Russian, followed by German, French, and Italian. English takes fifth place for the number of native speakers, however, it is the golden prize winner when it comes to learning a second language.
#6Tokidoki - “sometimes” in Japanese, just really fun to say lol
Image credits: rogue_rocketeer_
#7Água-Viva (Brazil/Portuguese), it’s jellyfish but if you translate it word by word it means “alive-water”.
Image credits: NicholasTOPark
German for ambulance.
Image credits: 8thFurno
English is currently the lingua franca of the world, however, knowing other languages can open a lot of doors as well. You can get better acquainted with certain cultures as it enables you to communicate with the locals. It can also be useful at work or going through lists of funny foreign words, some of which might be familiar if you’re bilingual or multilingual. Recent data shows that around 43% of the world’s population is bilingual.
#9kuchisabishii (Japanese). Kuchi means mouth and sabishii means lonely. Kuchisabishii means you're longing to put something on your mouth - essentially the feeling you have when you eat something (or chew on your nails or pencil) because your mouth feels bored.
Image credits: redsterXVI
#10Meerschweinchen, it’s German for Guinea Pigs, I like it because it literally means “little sea pigs”. Which makes no sense.
Image credits: AdvantageBig568
#11"wihajster" (pronounced: vee-hay-ster) in Polish, which is a placeholder, when you don't know what some object is or what it does. It comes from German "wie heißt er?" (“what's it called?”).
Some languages are considered easier to learn than others. Among the most difficult ones, you might often see Mandarin, Arabic, or Korean. These tongue-twisting systems of words feature a distinctive set of rules or other subtleties that make grasping them quite a quest.
For instance, Mandarin is a tonal language, which means it relies heavily on intonation. The same sound usually has four different transcriptions and meanings, depending on how the voice is used. Arabic is no easier as it usually features four different ways of writing every letter and reads from right to left, unlike most of the other languages. Korean is a challenge on its own as it is an isolate, meaning it does not belong to any larger family of languages.
That’s Finish for secondhand embarrassment. My native language doesn’t have the word for it so I use myotahapea instead.
#13Papillon. Means butterfly in french and its fun to say
Image credits: kk1289
#14Yalla in Arabic means hurry up let's go or right now depending how you use it
Image credits: Ntayeh
There are believed to be around 142 language families in the world. Some of the most popular ones include Niger-Congo (which has 1536 languages), Austronesian (with 1225), Trans New-Guinea (with 476), Sino-Tibetan (456), Indo-European (447 languages), and Afro-Asiatic (369).
#15Ikigai - lit. The Fruit of Life (in Japanese).
It is the philosophy of how to live a good life, it's elements and how to exercise them.
Image credits: ImpeachedPeach
It means stop/ enough in Hebrew.
My kids yell it at anything/one that frustrates them.
Image credits: litvisherebbetzin
#17*Lebensmüde* - Lebensmüde is a compound noun made up of the words Leben (life) and müde (tired). It, therefore, translates to 'life tired' and describes the feeling of being tired or weary.
A smaller family of languages—known as Dravidian—boasts 24 of them, one of which is considered to be one of the oldest languages still spoken today. It is called Tamil and is used by over 85 million native speakers, mostly in India, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. Other ancient languages used to this day include but are not limited to Sanskrit, Hebrew, Egyptian, and Greek.
#18“Tabarnak!” I love how, instead of being bodily-function based like English swear words, French Canadian sacres are mostly related to Catholicism. This one is my favourite as it’s the rough equivalent of the versatile “f**k” swear in English, so many uses.
sometimes it's rice
sometimes it's swear
you'll never know
Image credits: DependentPoint2458
#20My favorite word or phrase really, is "Oh la, la, c'est cher"–which means, "Oh my, it's expensive," in French. It was one of the first phrases I learned in middle school when I started taking French as an elective. When I went home and shared with my mom what I learned, she was so amused by how the alarming phrase sounded. She couldn't stop laughing.T his led to her constantly asking me to repeat it whenever we were in the presence of her friends, and I milked it. This is one of my treasured memories of my mother.
Even though unique languages are something to be cherished, there is a way to connect with the rest of the world using only one foreign one. Created by a Polish doctor Ludwig L. Zamenhof back in 1887, Esperanto is a universal language, which is politically and socially neutral. It does not belong to any country or ethnicity, and is believed to be easy to learn due to its uncomplicated structure and straightforward phonetics. According to Esperanto.net, there are roughly two million speakers in the world.
#21sanguagsuga - “blood-sucker” leech or bed bug in italian. can be used to describe a person too.
Image credits: ElectricalCod9533
#22Winkel. It means "shop" in Dutch.
#23Susurra. Spanish for whisper!
Another unique language enabling more people to communicate is sign language. Based on physical movements, such as hand gestures, grimaces, and pointing, it allows people to carry out a conversation when it’s not possible to do so verbally. There are around 300 sign languages worldwide, as they differ depending on the country or region where they are used.
#24Jalan Tikus (Indonesian: Mouse streets) back streets.
#25Cwtch - Welsh for a cuddle
its french for "birds" and none of it is pronounced the way it looks like it should
As if learning certain languages wasn’t difficult enough, they often comprise dialects that vary depending on the region as well. And dealing with some of them might be quite a pickle. For example, you might think you know British English, but talking to someone with a Geordie dialect can throw you off guard nevertheless. Such instances might require a minute or two (or an hour, to be fair) to get accustomed to the slightly different version.
Defining the number of dialects is not an easy task to do as some of them might be considered languages on their own. However, Chinese, for instance, is believed to have eight different ones, while Arabic boasts over 25 dialects.
#27Parapluie - French for “umbrella”
To an English ear, it sounds distinctly uncultured but it means 'art'
There's a heck of a lot of Deutsche in this list.
which translates to “darling” in english. idk why i love that term so much it sounds so sexy omg
Image credits: a1rxx
Languages are fascinating in so many ways. What seems like a simple form of communication is actually so complex and intricate, it might take ages to learn one. Even then, can you ever really say you know a language? Whether it’s our mother tongue or a foreign concept we’re trying to grasp, both might feature certain words we are still unfamiliar with. And, without a shade of doubt, all languages have words that are worth adding to this list.
#30Kitanai, or dirty in Japanese. It’s amusing to say at any minor mess like a disappointed mom
Image credits: ViForYourAttention
#31When I was a kid, the first Xbox 360 game I ever got was a Spanish copy of Halo 3 (I don't speak Spanish). At the beginning of the campaign, the characters keep saying "careful" over and over again. Because of this, "cuidado" has become one of my favorite Spanish words, and the voice they used has become my default voice to say other Spanish words. My other favorite has to be "resbaloso". A large, exaggerated r roll and a boisterous tone just makes this one of the most fun words to say in any language.
#32Lebensabschnittpartner = Lover or Partner *lit. The Person I am with Today*
Estrella = Star
積ん読 = Acquiring books and letting them pile up unread
#33Zou ba - let’s go in Chinese. It’s easy and fun to say.
#34Cacahuete means peanut in French. I like saying it;)
D'harawal (an Australian Aboriginal language)
*Cucaracha* (cockroack) - because of the song
*Gemütlichkeit* (cosiness and contentment)*
*Terima kasih* (thanks)
*Can* (both a question and a statement)
*Wallah Wallah* (I swear!)
*я машина!* 'Ya mashina!' [(I'm the Machine!)](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paG1-lPtIXA)