German Untranslatable Words

Why Germans Can Say Things No One Else Can

A set of 20 cards featuring the best of the German language's extraordinary range of compound words.

We are all hugely dependent on language to help us express what we truly think and feel. However, some languages are better than others at crisply naming important sensations, and therefore allowing us to express ourselves more fully. Germans in particular have been geniuses in inventing 'compound' words that elegantly articulate emotions or experiences that we all know, but that other languages require whole clumsy sentences or phrases to express.

Read an extract from the cards >>

Example Cards:

  • LEBENSMÜDE (Life-tired): 
    We believe ourselves to be firmly attached to life, but a lot of our behaviour attests to something more interesting and troubling; an occasional longing to give up our hold on existence. It is deeply useful to have this word to hand on gloomy days when it feels as if nothing will ever work out.

  • BACKPFEIFENGESICHT (Slapping-face):
    A face that is begging to be slapped. Generosity towards others is key, but the German language is bracing and frank enough to acknowledge that there are also moments when it is simply more honest to admit that we have come face-to-face with a dickhead. 

  • LUFTSCHLOSS (Air-Castle):
    Literally, a castle in the air or a dream that is unattainable - a word that suggests that German culture is deeply indulgent about big dreams, but also gently realistic about how hard it can be to fulfil them.

20 cards in a gift box | 159mm x 115mm x 20mm 


German Untranslatable Words

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