Scholars and professional translators have determined that “ilunga” — a word in the Bantu language of Tshiluba for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time — is the “most untranslatable word in the world. “Shlimazl”, a Yiddish word for a chronically unlucky person, and “radioukacz”, a Polish word for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, ran a close second and third. The most untranslatable word in the English language was voted to be “plenipotentiary”, which means a special ambassador or envoy, invested with full powers.
The Most Untranslatable Words
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