11 Untranslatable Words: Urdu Edition

11 Untranslatable Words: Urdu Edition

Over 6,000 languages are spoken in the world, and they all express the range and depth of human life. However, no single language can properly represent the complete human experience because all of these languages offer somewhat different perspectives on the world.

As a result, every language on the planet contains words that are not found in any other language. These linguistic gems can be defined, but they cannot be translated directly. Languages are so incredibly beautiful, and to think that there are some words in all languages that are so unique and inherent to the language itself that it is impossible to find a whole translation. More often than not, the word is a feeling. And that feeling is indescribable.

Urdu is a spectacularly romantic language. Some of the most soulful words you will ever hear are in Urdu. It is a combination of beauty, formality, and sweetness. And despite being a relatively new language, it has some of the most valuable works in literature. One cannot simply dispute that Urdu has long dominated Indian writing as well as literature from other areas of the world. Even the most mundane phrase sounds rich because the language is lyrical and tailor-made for poets and authors. It has an immensely rich literary tradition. Here’s a continuation of our series of untranslatable words - Urdu Edition.

In the 12th century, Urdu began to flourish in north India, around Delhi. It was based on the dialect spoken in the Delhi region, which was highly affected by Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Before being called Urdu, it was known as Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi, and Rekhta. Historians say it grew and flourished in Delhi during the Delhi Sultanate from the 12th to 16th centuries, and then again during the Mughal Empire from the 16th to 19th centuries, when various court poets employed it in their outstanding poetry and works. It was then developed in the Deccan states.

I. Takallouf

The requirement of etiquette and customs; hesitation; taking trouble to do something.

II. Fanaa

To die before one dies (or) extinction of self in the universal being

III. Sifarish

To recommend something or someone. In the South Asian context, this word might specifically be related to using one’s influence to affect a decision unduly, making its implication go beyond the English equivalent ‘recommendation’.

IV. Malal

The feeling of grief often rooted in regret.

V. Aap

Oneself; to address someone with respect.

VI. Tishnagi

Feeling of thirst rooted in intense longing, even lust.

VII. Marasim

To have a connection and relation with someone.

VIII. Ruhaniyat

Soulfulness or spirituality.

IX. Shabaab

To be in the prime of life or at the zenith.

X. Justuju

To feel a sense of desire and quest or look for something lost.

XI. Ranjish

The feeling of displeasure; the unpleasantness between two persons.

Illustration credits: Lakhi Soni for Homegrown

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