When There is No Clear Translation

Share This Post!
Share This Post!

One of my favorite parts of studying foreign languages is the discovery of a word that has no translation in English.

 

I love that people have created specific words for something that the rest of us need to dance around and describe in hopes of conveying a particular feeling or experience.

 

A few of my favorites (some you may know, and some I found here are:

 

  • Schadenfreude (German) – finding humor at someone else’s misfortune (e.g. any “epic fail” videos on YouTube)
  • Commuovere (Italian) – a story that makes you cry (any movie with a child separated from parents gets me every time)
  • Tosca (Russian) – “A sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without a specific cause; a longing with nothing to long for.”
  • Ya’aburnee (Arabic) – “A declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how unbearable it would be to live without them.”
  • Nemawashi (Japanese) – literally turning/digging around the root of a plant; metaphorically, it means building consensus by speaking with each person 1:1 to get buy-in before a major decision is made.

This last one was one I encountered many times when I lived in Japan, especially as consensus building, as opposed to majority rule, is a way of life there.

 

Broadly speaking, Japanese tends to be much more indirect and subtle than English, as the concept of “wa” (harmony/peace) is arguably as intrinsic to Japanese culture as freedom is to American culture and rhetoric.

 

It can also be a matter of building up a case for something little by little over time, almost like an interpersonal “drip campaign” to help people come around to an idea.

 

A perfect example of nemawashi is depicted this week on the Speaking to Influence podcast.  Luke Billeri, CEO of Members Choice Credit Union,  shared his experience of using nemawashi (without actually using that word) to gain support for major organizational change.

 

 

Luke shared a number of terrific stories in which there did not seem to be a clear “translation” of the solution, including:

 

  • What happens when a company grows quickly and outgrows its systems
  • When he realized he was initially speaking over the heads of some groups and losing his audience, at which point he learned the importance of adapting his communication style based on the audience’s competencies.
  • How he got buy-in by helping the other person understand how it would impact that person’s public image.
  • When diplomacy requires the “carrot” vs. the “stick”
  • The role of demonstrating some aspect of passion in an interview, no matter what your personality type,

And more.

 

Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.

 

Lastly, allow me to extend an invitation to which there is a very clear and direct meaning:

 

Starting February 1st through the end of the month, join me (at any time that’s convenient for you) for “Hearts in Motion,” a virtual 5K in support of The Adoption Center’s mission to help older children in the foster care system to find “forever families.”

 

 

 

You can walk indoors, inside a shopping mall, on a treadmill, or wherever you like. By joining me, you’ll be helping kids find the loving families they so desperately need and deserve. Register here and let’s make a difference together!

Share This Post!

Search

Recent Posts

Newsletter Sign-up

Disclaimer: By signing up for our newsletter, you acknowledge that your personal information will be securely stored and used exclusively for communication purposes. We respect your privacy and assure you that your details will not be shared with third parties without your explicit consent.

Related Posts

A small gallery

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et ...
Read More

Entry with Post Format “Video”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et ...
Read More

Entry without preview image

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et ...
Read More