Give examples of words that English is missing

Sander   Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:26 am GMT
The Swede,

According to a Swedish English dictionary, Dygn means:

English translation
day (and night), 24-hour period

resan tog tre dygn---the trip took three days
jag sover tio timmar om dygnet---I sleep ten hours a night
dygnet runt---round the clock.
That means that 'etmaal' isn't the same as 'dygn'.

However we do differenciate between , like you said, 'I was outside the light period of the day, when the sun was up so to speak.' , 'a day' is 'een dag' in Dutch , but the 'light period of a day is called 'overdag'. 'night' is spelled 'nacht' here but 'at night' (or the dark period of a day) is called ' 's nachts '.
The Swede   Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:30 am GMT
Yes Sander, I think you agree with me and I think also Damian agree with me when he has realised/understood the reasoning.
Damian in Edinburgh   Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:29 pm GMT

Yes, I do agree with you now that I've had more time to study your reasoning and all the other posts in this thread and fully appreciate what you were getting at. English does have it's shortcomings. Fun, ain't it? :-)
Sanja   Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:54 pm GMT
Serbo-Croatian /Bosnian also has some words that English doesn't. For example, "davno" means "a long time ago". So, that's four words instead of one. Also, since "a long time ago" means something that is distant in the past, what do you say for something that is distant in the future? (The opposite of "a long time ago" - actually something similar, just for the future). I noticed a long time ago that Serbo-Croatian lacks that word, and as far as I know, there is no such word in English either.

Another word that English lacks is the plural of "you".
The Swede   Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:20 pm GMT
Yes, it´s fun the only problem is that we only can talk about the English language.
Travice   Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:00 pm GMT
Frances and Sanja, one thing though is that many English dialects, in particular North American English dialects, do have specifically plural second person forms such as "you guys", "you all", "y'all", and "youse", with "you" being second person singular by default, even if the second personal singular and plural are *formally* the same in literary English. Hence, one really cannot speak of English *in general* lacking such forms, just formal/literary English, and various specific dialects which have not innovated new second person plural forms.
Deborah   Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:22 am GMT
The Swede said:

"Well, I as a Swede can compare English with Swedish and I have found that Swedish has some words that don´t exist in English and vice versa. You can communicate well with your English, but not perfectly well."

(1) You're not saying anything about English that couldn't be said for any other language. Every language has single words to express a concept that may require more than one word to express the same idea in another language.

(2) Every language manages to communicate perfectly well. Why do you think that having one word to express a certain idea is any "better" than using more than one word to express that idea?
Uriel   Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:09 am GMT
Ah, but look at it from the Swede's point of view -- it must be frustrating to want to say something that you have in mind, but not be able to because there either is no equivalent or there is, but it's just not the same for the listener.
The Swede   Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:24 am GMT
Deborah, my vision is not to attack the English language and say that there are more languages which is far better. I started this topic because I wanted the native English speakers to realise that their language has some weaknesses that they probably not should known without this discussion. We have different cultures in the world today and I want that so many as possible shall take part of all these cultures and their advantages. And why shall you do that? Because your own standard of living will be higher, better and richer. It´s the same with lanugages.
Look at Uriels comment it was a perfect comment. Take this Swedish sentence: "Jag kände att jag var lagom mätt" It means
"I felt that I was fairly satisfied" the tow last words was not good words to translate. Becouse mätt is the opposite word for hunger. In English you can use satisfied in other phrases: "The manager was satisfied after the victory" But in Swedish you cant translate satisfied with "mätt" in this case.
Think about old days during the antique period if a person from Greec should tell an Englishman that the olympic games was canceled this year because of a democratic decision. It works today with one sentence but it should be a hard chalange for the antique Greec person becouse English had not a word for democarcy and not good words for Olympic games during that time. So thats why it´s good to have a effective language.
The English language today is a language which is good enougt during our days, but you shall not have a conservative attitude. Let English continue it´s development. Otherwise the English language will be a victim for the future.
Finally why do I not take examples of words that Swedish is missing? Because many here are not interest of that becouse they don´t use or can our language, thats why.
Damian in Edinburgh   Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:41 am GMT
English has many words that are similar in meaning (synonyms) but with very subtle differences in these his respect it's a very rich Language. There are English words for which there is no precise equivalent in other Languages and no doubt the opposite applies as well.

I already mentioned that Welsh word for which there really is no one single English word that expresses the exact same feeling and emotion ("hiraeth"). Unfortunately I haven't yet been able to find a similar word in Gaelic. btw not Gallic as I said in an earlier post! :-(It's just that in Scotland that's how it's pronounced so I unwittingly slipped into phonetic mode.

**The Swede Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:20 pm GMT
Yes, it´s fun the only problem is that we only can talk about the English language.**

Who says we can only talk about the English Language? OK, this part of the Forum is dedicated to English by and large but I dinnae think we'll be slapped on the wrist if we discuss other Languages in context, do you? Check back and you will see posts in here written in Languages other than English so what the heck!
Travis   Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:02 am GMT
I myself definitely agree with Damian on this issue, and whatever some supposed rules that we have to just speak about Englist alone in this section be damned!
The Swede   Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:26 am GMT
Damian, it´s not a forbid to speak about other languages but the thing is that English has a special position, almost everyone here prefer English after their own native language. It maks that they have a comfortable feeling when they use English. What about your Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, Russian etc etc? I think you prefer English as well. That makes that every non native English speaker prefer to compare their language with English. I can´t reveal any weaknesses in the Polish language because I can´t any Polish. I can some German but I can say that they don´t have good words for dygn, fika and lagom either, I´m not sure with mätt, they have "zufrieden" at least and thats the same as satisfied. I don´t know if I spelled it correct, but anyway in Swedish we don´t have a word for "mätt" when it´s about thirst. You know you can have thirst but when you have drunk a lot then you are ?________ Have someone that word in their language? We have "mätt'' when it´s about hunger and you can say "proppmätt" when you are so satisfied that you have a bit pain in your stomack because of that you hav eaten so much. Eaven if you don´t have the opposite word for thirst you may have som suggestions?
Frances   Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:10 pm GMT
"English has many words that are similar in meaning (synonyms) but with very subtle differences in these his respect it's a very rich Language. There are English words for which there is no precise equivalent in other Languages and no doubt the opposite applies as well."

It's that Saxon v Latin thing that has produced synonyms. Just think of dove v pigeon...
american nic   Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:59 pm GMT
There actually is a word in English that means 'mätt' perfectly...full.
american nic   Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:36 pm GMT
I just thought of one...there's no way to differentiate meeting someone for the first time compared to just meeting up with them. For example, if someone said that they met someone in a bar, there's no way to know if they mean they went there and met someone new, or meet up with an old friend. In other languages, are there way to differenciate the two?