French words no English equivalent

SOME WORDS are untranslatable. They have come to carry such a specific meaning that few other languages have exact equivalents. Paradoxically, these “untranslatables” have often hiked their way into new languages. Let’s follow the trail of 7 French words.

1. Pack all your stuff into huge backpack: Barda

A barda is an oversized, heavy backpack, typically like the one you shoulder for a long backcountry hike. It is originally a military term brought into French in the 19th century from Arabic berdâa “packsaddle”.

2. Arrive at your destination: Dépaysement

Dépaysement conveys the feeling of “unusualness” one feels when arriving at a place that is very different from one’s usual home. It refers to the change in habits, scenery, and climate that trigger this feeling.

Dépaysement is different from “homesickness”, as it doesn’t indicate any nostalgia or negative feeling. Dépaysement can also be something you’re looking for during a trip. It is derived from French pays “country”, and literally means “un-country-fication”.

3. Go on a hike: Crapahuter

Crapahuter means going on a long backcountry hike on difficult terrain. This is originally French military slang that ended up in the everyday language. It comes from crapaud, “toad”.

4. Stop for a snack: Gourmand

Someone who is gourmand loves to eat refined food, generally made with very sweet or rich ingredients, in reasonable and appropriate proportions. This iconic French word is derived from the no-less iconic word gourmet, and dates back to the 14th century.

5. Use this break to explore your surroundings: Flâner

Flâner means to daydream by walking around in a leisurely, aimless way (without the sense of losing one’s bearing conveyed by “wander”).

6. Discover something inspiring: Trouvaille

Trouvaille is an unexpected discovery that is original and interesting. It can refer to an object (like that nice abandoned hat you found in a tree) or a place (like a secret bivouac spot). Trouvaille is poetic to the core, as it is derived from the French verb trouver “to find”.

7. You set up camp for the night: Bivouac

Bivouac was borrowed from French into English and means “a temporary camp”, typically a one-night camp during a backcountry hike.

(via Matador Network)

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