Learning English as a foreign language alert: “Some feelings and experiences can’t be summed in a single word—at least in English”, Amy Maoz told Pocket.

So, it’s highly likely you’ll come across certain words and phrases that don’t have English equivalents when you’re learning English as a foreign language.

The English vocabulary is vast though. There’s no undue cause for concern that you’ll ever end up tongue-tied.

To this end, learning English as a foreign language will help you get round this plain fact – that certain words and phrases you might be used to using in your native tongue just don’t exist in English per se!

Words That Learning English as a Foreign Language Can’t Help With

Here’s a few fun examples of words that are literally untranslatable in to English:-

  • Jayus – You know those cheesy jokes that are so bad and cringe-making you just have to laugh at them – sardonically, almost sympathetically, not because you find them in the slightest bit funny? That’s “jayus” in Indonesian.
  • Schadenfreude – What do you call smugness and relish as a result of other people’s lack of good fortune. You call it “schadenfreude” in German.
  • Sobremesa – The BBC’s Mike Randolph said, “There is no equivalent word in English, though the concept is simple: Sobremesa is the time you spend at the table after you’ve finished eating.” So, we can understand this Spanish dining etiquette. But we don’t have an English word that sums it up without a full explanation.


At La Academia – Manchester’s award-winning language school – we’ve got many savvy solutions for navigating oddities. They’re a perfectly normal part of learning English as a foreign language and any other languages.

Fourteen Fascinating and Untranslatable Words, Amy Maoz, Pocket